Following events of the past two days two facts emerge about Hamilton’s proposed LRT project:
- The provincial contribution is capped at $Billion.
- The project will not be built without a significant financial contribution from Hamilton taxpayers.
Flamborough-Glanbrook MPP Donna Skelly reiterated today the comments of Premier Doug Ford when he was in Hamilton a few days ago, where for the first time he acknowledged that “the folks in Hamilton are going to have to come up with a share.”
Speaking with Bill Kelly on CHML today the MPP made a similar comment.
The comments were triggered in response to the Auditor General’s report released yesterday that said the Wynne government knew the costs of the LRT had escalated to close to $4 Billion but did not share the information with Hamilton Council who voted to advance the project in 2017 believing the cost was still $1 Billion and also believing that Hamilton would not have to make a contribution to the project.
In a news release responding to the Auditor General’s report Mayor Eisenberger referred to Hamilton LRT as “shovel-ready.” In fact, the cancellation of Hamilton LRT last December, necessitates a new Request for Qualification process to identify interested bidders and then an RFP process. Also because the project is a design-build project, the successful bidder would still have to come up with a final design for the project. The entire process would take a minimum of two years according to persons familiar with public infrastructure bidding.
The same Auditor General issued a report in 2018 that found Metrolinx had failed to properly evaluate the merits of Bus Rapid Transit versus LRT in the case of Hamilton and three other projects in Ontario. It referred to a 2015 internal Metrolinx documents that suggested the bernefits of LRT had been overstaed relative to BRT and even suggested a BRT-only solution for Hamilton as an alternative to LRT, writing, “an option considering full BRT in the western downtown portion, continuing as BRT light in the eastern portion has not been considered in the Business Case Analysis. (BRT) would align with growth forecasts without imposing new transfers, and could be a less expensive interim step to an eventual full LRT. “Elsewhere in the document the authors expanded on this idea, suggesting that BRT with a separate right-of-way be built from McMaster to Ottawa street, with the buses continuing in mixed traffic to Eastgate.