Monday, May 13, 2013

By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Monday, May 13, 2013

Unease over LRT funding

Hamilton is asking for 100 per cent funding from the province with no strings attached in the form of new taxes, fees or levies.

The province says it can’t afford that deal, that it needs to create new revenue tools to finance 15 transit projects in the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area costing $34 billion, which includes a light rail line from McMaster to Eastgate.

On June 1, Metrolinx, the provincial transportation agency, is giving the province its recommendations on which funding tools to use.

But after that, answers to some key questions disappear into a thickening mizzle.

We don’t know what the provincial government will do with the recommendations or how long it will take to make a decision.

Premier Kathleen Wynne is a strong advocate of new revenue streams to tame the GTHA’s economically debilitating congestion and grow the regional transit network.

But whatever new taxes and fees are imposed, it’s not clear how they’ll be rolled out.

Other unknowns abound. For example, do GTHA municipalities have the option to bail on their projects rather than pay new taxes?

Can Hamilton tell the province and Metrolinx to count us out? We don’t want LRT or BRT. Just leave us alone and take the ‘H’ out of GTHA. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)