By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday, July 26, 2014
Province not ready to commit to $811-million Hamilton LRT
The province isn’t ready to commit to an $811 million LRT line in Hamilton and there’s no timeline for a decision.
Ontario’s new Transportation Minister, Steven Del Duca, emerged from a controversial private meeting at the city Friday to repeat the Liberal government’s commitment to paying 100 per cent of capital costs for a new “rapid transit” project in Hamilton.
But he couldn’t say what that project will be, when the city will get an answer or define what is covered by “capital construction costs.”
“It may very well be LRT,” he said in response to persistent questioning after the meeting with Mayor Bob Bratina, city manager Chris Murray and four other councillors.
But he said he wasn’t in a position to “make an announcement” Friday, although he added he was clear the city’s official request is for a light rail line, despite recent public musings of some councillors on the idea of a bus rapid transit alternative.
Del Duca also acknowledged the city needs an answer on what will be covered by provincial capital funding, for example expropriation and other land costs. He said he would consult with provincial officials and Metrolinx and get back to the city on the “interesting” question.
Councillors had varying reactions to the meeting.
Mayoral aspirant Brian McHattie said he was “blown out of the water” by the “positive” meeting, adding he was relieved the minister was not confused by mixed messages coming from individual local politicians.
Councillor Brad Clark, also a mayoral candidate, said he didn’t hear “very much new information” from the minister, but appreciated the chance for a direct conversation.
Clark said it was made clear Hamilton has more work to do, to make its case for a rapid transit project, but added the specifics will come from Metrolinx and senior provincial staff in the coming weeks or months.
McHattie, by contrast, said the minister praised the work already competed by Hamilton and seemed to think “we’ve done enough” to take the next step. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)