Special Report: Light Rail

LRT Environmental Project Report Answers a Lot of Council's Questions

Council has already agreed, contractually, with Metrolinx to forward the Environmental Project Report Addendum in order to seek Environment Ministry approval for the LRT plan.

By Craig Burley
Published April 26, 2017

A number of City Councillors requested my slides from my delegation to the April 19, 2017 General Issues Committee meeting detailing key aspects of the Environmental Project Report (EPR) Addendum for the Light Rail Transit (LRT) plan. The following bullets contain the text of my slides.

Note particularly the brief analysis of Section 3 and Recital E of the Metrolinx-City of Hamilton Memorandum of Agreement [PDF].

Recital E:

Based on the May 26th announcement by the Province and the change in scope, it is intended that Hamilton facilitate an amendment to the EPR and/or an additional TPAP, including by undertaking all preparatory and ancillary work required for such EPR amendment and/or additional TPAP, and that Metrolinx will reimburse Hamilton for the costs incurred by it in this regard. The Parties agree to be co-proponents of the EPR process and to work collaboratively on the EPR amendment and/or additional TPAP technical work plan. [emphasis added]

Section 3:

It is intended that the Project as initially described in and approved by the EPR will be varied and amended by amendment to the EPR to take into account and reflect the May 26, 2015 project funding announcement by the Province of Ontario, which referred to an LRT corridor as described in Recital D. Additional technical studies will be undertaken to form the basis of the submission for EPR amendment. [emphasis added]

Council has already agreed, contractually, with Metrolinx to forward the EPR Addendum in order to seek MoECC approval.

This is a brief note asking Council to consider these aspects of the Addendum. The Addendum is a good report. Even as you may wish to prevaricate, it is important to let the provincial government continue its work.

The city's business community needs this and the city's economy needs it. You've heard that message repeatedly and I don't need to repeat its details.

I know that you, as politicians, wish to minimize the damage to you personally from the project - as with any transformative transportation project, it will disappoint some at some times - but I feel you must, at the end of the day, keep to your oath and duty as councillors to manage in the best interests of the city.

The professionals have done a superb job bringing us a plan that works, and that will bring jobs, investment, and prosperity to a city that has not recovered in the three-plus decades since economic disaster befell it.

Please agree to forward the EPR Addendum. Thanks for your time.

Craig Burley is a tax lawyer in Hamilton. You can follow him on twitter @craig_burley. Comments here are not legal advice.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted April 26, 2017 at 09:07:07

Craig, could you please explain what the city solicitors meant when they said the MOA is a "non-binding agreement"?

What is the difference between a binding and non-binding agreement?

In the Fall, solicitors clearly confirmed that Council agreed to work with Metrolinx to implement the LRT project in at least three separate agreements.

In particular, he MOA language says that both parties will

proceed expeditiously, diligently and in good faith and in a co-operative and collaborative manner

and

facilitate and expedite the construction and completion of the project.

The same solicitors pointed out in a report to Council that Metrolinx could pursue the City for costs and contractors could pursue the City for foregone profits if they renege at this point. The risk is about $70M.

https://raisethehammer.org/article/3295/...

What would be different if the MOA were a "binding" agreement? Some Councillors seem to be interpreting this as meaning they have no obligation to follow through with what they agreed to in the MOA ... they can just ignore it.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2017-04-26 09:12:03

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By Connie (registered) | Posted April 26, 2017 at 13:09:36

It may be "non binding", but opting out would not be without consequences. Eg, Toronto had to pay back Metrolink's $75m costs to date when it cancelled the Scarborough LRT.

Metrolink's costs to date in Hamilton are about $70m.

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted April 26, 2017 at 13:27:41

I think the argument that the city would have to pay the costs incurred if they quit the LRT project is a weak one. It's impact on the city's coffers wouldn't be inconsequential but this kind of expense can be chalked up to the costs of doing business. Or, more specifically, the costs of agreeing to do something and then not doing it.

The lost development, investment, jobs and tax base dwarfs the 70 million that would fly out the door if they kill it.

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