Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay – Wednesday May 27, 2015
Wynne promises $1-billion for Hamilton LRT, GO transit
Premier Kathleen Wynne got a sustained ovation when she announced up to $1 billion to build a light rail line from McMaster University to the Queenston traffic circle, with an eye to eventually reach Eastgate Square. But Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca earned the best response when he stopped to note: “Yeah, I said ‘L’. You heard me say ‘L.'”
The line will also send a spur to the new James Street GO Station and connect with the existing Hunter station via a “high order” pedestrian connection that will prioritize walking traffic.
While the funded line will end for now three stops short of the edge of Stoney Creek, east enders will see a new GO Train station built by 2019 at Centennial Parkway, Del Duca announced.
That’s also the year construction is slated to start on the LRT line, although procurement is scheduled to begin in 2017 – before the next election. Wynne joked “by the time all this is built, I won’t be in this job,” but later added responsible governments have to “think beyond the next election cycle” and make longterm investments.
“This is monumental for Hamilton,” said Mayor Fred Eisenberger, who called light rail transit a “sensible, affordable transportation system that lifts our entire community.”
City council will eventually have to sign off on a master agreement with Metrolinx that will spell out everything from who operates the system to what costs will be covered by the city to how a long construction period will be phased.
Eisenberger acknowledged a years-long build – a prime concern for city councillors opposed to the project – “is going to be a challenge.”
“There will be disruptions … but over the long term, the result is going to beneficial to everybody,” he said. “The hard works actually starts now.”
The mayor doesn’t believe those challenges will scuttle the project, however, despite increasing opposition from some councillors.
“For those who would push back on a billion dollar investment in the city of Hamilton, I would be very surprised to have them do that,” he said. “The province is actually delivering what council has asked for.”
City manager Chris Murray said he will report back to council in several weeks to outline the negotiations needed for a master agreement. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)