Mayor Fred Eisenberger issued a statement this afternoon in response to the release of figures that cast some doubt on the $5.5 Billion dollar price tag on the Hamilton LRT, and Premier Ford’s subsequent expression of concern about the $1 Billion operating and maintenance cost that would be borne by Hamilton taxpayers.
Earlier this year, the Province’s citizen-appointed Hamilton Transportation Task Force recommended Hamilton’s Light Rail Transit (LRT) project as the number one transit recommendation for the City of Hamilton.
The LRT project is the most-studied transit project in our city’s history, and we are now turning our minds to restarting our economy. The LRT will create thousands of jobs, economic uplift, increase affordable housing, cut CO2 emissions drastically and will be a legacy transportation project for our city.
In 2016, the City of Hamilton entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Metrolinx, respecting the Hamilton LRT Project. Under this agreement Metrolinx assumed the lead role for the LRT project, including matters related to scope and budget. The City has not undertaken the preparation of a cost estimate at a level of detail which could be compared to the estimates by the Third Party consultant released in December 2019. The City does not have access to any detailed costing prepared by Metrolinx.
The Third Party report recently obtained by local media distorts the numbers of Hamilton’s LRT project. It is dishonest to suggest that costs had escalated by more than five times the original forecast when the Province cancelled the project in December 2019.
The City of Hamilton was always responsible for day-to-day operating costs of the LRT. The annual costs were to be offset by increased property tax revenue from new developments and development charges.
As indicated by the Federal government and Hamilton MPPs, the LRT is the best, shovel-ready infrastructure project for the City of Hamilton. I look forward to working with Premier Ford and his ministers to get this project back on track.