Last Monday, when the Minister of Transport announced that the government was killing the LRT, Mayor Fred Eisenberger used terms like “shocked…stunned….flabbergasted”… to describe his feelings about what he claimed was an announcement that came out of the blue. He told Bill Kelly Monday morning on CHML that he couldn’t believe the Minister would plan a news conference in Hamilton without advising him. But MPP Donna Skelly told the Bay Observer that Transport Minister Caroline Mulroney’s office tried repeatedly on the weekend to reach the mayor to advise him of the announcement without success. Now we may know why. Today Eisenberger released an open letter to the premier where, among other things, he admitted he had already been shown the cost estimates that had construction at almost triple the $1Billion original estimate for LRT the previous week. Apparently it wasn’t the first time the mayor had been warned about the spiraling costs of the project., Spectator Columnist Andrew Dreschel reported that the Mayor had met with minister Mulroney last September and had been advised that the project was likely way over budget. In addition, Mulroney said Monday that a perusal of the Hamilton LRT file dating to its inception, showed that the cost overruns were well known to the Wynne government, prompting the question, did anybody in Hamilton know about the costs prior to and during the 2018 Municipal election, that saw Eisenberger returned to office on a campaign that centered around LRT. The mayor told Dreschel he didn’t share any of the cost concern information with council because he didn’t believe the numbers.
In the letter to Ford the Mayor demanded to know the assumptions behind the government’s cost estimates which LRT supporters insist are too high. The Bay Observer discussed the government cost projections with transportation sources who thought the $2.8 Billion figure for the construction portion of the project, and the operating and maintenance figure of $1 Billion over 30 years while somewhat high, were “not unreasonable.”
Meanwhile in a scenario reminiscent of Orwell’s 1984 where history was being constantly revised, the Metrolinx IT department has purged all references to Hamilton and the LRT project from its website. The Hamilton LRT page was gone by the afternoon of the Mulroney announcement. And now all references to Hamilton are gone.