By Ryan McGreal
Published September 30, 2011
In an email to a number of people who posted statements through the Hamilton Light Rail campaign, Mayor Bob Bratina disputes the claim that the Province promised funding for LRT in Hamilton.
His email reads in part: "The following information shows that no funding for LRT has been promised" by the province, and includes a link to a list of MoveOntario 2020 projects from June 15, 2007.
Under the heading "Subway and Other Rapid Transit", the list includes item 32: "Hamilton east-west rapid transit on King/Main Streets from Eastgate Mall to McMaster University" and item 33: "Hamilton north-south rapid transit on James/Upper James Streets from Rymal Road to King Street".
At the bottom of the list of projects is a footnote:
*Projects subject to the review of the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority.
This asterisked caveat, according to Mayor Bratina, means the Province didn't actually promise to fund Hamilton's rapid transit lines but merely proposed them. (Note: the Greater Toronto Transit Authority was later renamed as Metrolinx.)
However, the main Ontario Government press release about MoveOntario 2020 from the same day reads in part:
MoveOntario 2020 will build 902 kilometres of new or improved rapid transit, starting in 2008.
It will create 175,000 jobs during construction and deliver 52 rapid transit projects. These include:
- The extension of the Yonge St. subway line to Highway 7
- Increasing speed and reducing emissions by electrifying the GO Lakeshore line and expanding capacity on all GO lines
- Expanded express bus service across Highway 407
- Two rapid transit lines across Hamilton, and
- Toronto's Transit City vision for light rail across the city.
The government will work with the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority (GTTA) to implement the plan. The GTTA will report back to the Province in early 2008 on a detailed plan for moving forward. [emphasis added]
A few months later, on September 12, 2007, the Ontario Liberal Party issued a press release that read in part:
In Hamilton, the Conservatives would put rapid transit projects through MoveOntario 2020 - including two light rail lines across Hamilton - at risk.
It is hard to see this as anything other than a promise to build "two light rail lines across Hamilton" - at least insofar as such a promise might persuade Hamiltonians to support the Liberals in the election.
In the November 2008 Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) The Big Move - the "detailed plan for moving forward" promised in the MoveOntario 2020 announcement - Metrolinx identified "Rapid transit in Downtown Hamilton from McMaster University to Eastgate Mall" as one of the top 15 priorities for completion within the first 15 years.
The plan notes:
projects identified in the regional rapid transit network will undergo a more detailed Benefits Case Analysis to determine the most appropriate technology.
In other words, Metrolinx announced its intent to carry out due diligence on rapid transit projects in cooperation with municipalities before going ahead with the projects.
As part of this due diligence, the City of Hamilton completed a detailed feasibility study for rapid transit on the B-Line in October 2008, and Metrolinx completed a Benefits Case Analysis for rapid transit on the B-Line in February 2010.
Both studies concluded that LRT will cost more to build but will provide a bigger overall net benefit in economic development and neighbourhood revitalization.
It goes beyond fastidious to try and wiggle the government out of its commitment to build LRT in Hamilton by noting that the Province originally stated in a footnode that it would carry out due diligence on its announced projects, when we are now four years later and that due diligence has already been completed.