Despite calls for the Ontario government to increase its commitment to the Hamilton’s LRT project, the Ontario budget indicates the Ford government is holding firm on the pledge made in 2015, by the Wynne government and reconfirmed repeatedly for Premier Ford that the amount of money available for the project is $1 Billion. The Budget document reads, “The Ontario Government is keeping its commitment to provide $1 billion in capital funding to implement the Hamilton Transportation Task Force’s recommendation for a higher-order transit project and proceed with planning and design work for an updated light rail transit plan.” This puts the ball back in the court of the federal government to come up with the roughly $1.5 Billion that would be required to get an LRT line as far east as Gage Park. More if the line were to extend further east. Hamilton City Council members who recently called for the province to explain what is going on with negotiations being led by the Labourers International Union, repeated their long-held position that they will not support a Hamilton contribution to the project.
Federal support program
The Ford government made a formal request to the Federal government for financial support for Hamilton’s LRT, following months of encouraging signals from Federal Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna, who repeatedly referred to the Hamilton project as “shovel-ready, and suggested all it would take was a request from Ontario to get things moving. What has not been revealed is the program under which Hamilton could qualify for support without making its own contribution. The Investing in Canada Infrastructure Plan typically calls for a municipal contribution of around 27 percent, and caps the federal contribution at 40 percent. Hamilton’s LRT would not qualify for ICIP funding under that formula.