By Ryan McGreal
Published August 22, 2012
In a report published yesterday on CBC Hamilton, Mayor Bob Bratina is quoted saying Hamilton will have to pay some of the cost of the planned Light Rail Transit (LRT) line.
The mayor met Monday with Bob Chiarelli, Ontario's Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation, at the Association of Ontario Municipalities (AMO) conference in Ottawa.
The minister clarified that Hamilton will have to raise a share of the cost of establishing an LRT service, Bratina said in a phone interview with CBC Hamilton on Tuesday.
"It was a relief to finally hear a clear statement from the minister that there will be participation expected from the host community," he said.
RTH contacted Mayor Bratina via email to ask him why it is a "relief" that Hamilton will have to pay some of the LRT cost, given that the Metrolinx mandate is to fully fund regional higher-order transit projects. The Mayor responded:
Council has struggled with the question of funding from the very beginning when the "Big Move" was announced. There has never been any question in my mind that LRT would require some cost to taxpayers and that is now confirmed. We can now engage in specifics of how, when and where LRT would be best suited to meet the needs of Hamilton based partly on our ability to pay. Until this was made clear Council was reluctant to declare specific commitments. I believe you will now hear a much more focused discussion.
RTH also asked whether other LRT systems funded through Metrolinx - like the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown LRT, Sheppard East LRT and Etobicoke-Finch LRT, will also require their host city to pay some of the capital cost. The Mayor answered:
I can't answer for other systems. The ones mentioned were part of a specific announcement in 2009 regarding the first five year capital plan that included three million dollars for Hamilton to study the A and B line rapid transit corridors. Subsequent proposals will depend on the June 2013 decision on how the Province intends to proceed with the outstanding transit projects. Words such as "alternatives" and "creative" point to funding sources beyond current Provincial taxation.
RTH has also contacted Minister Chiarelli, Metrolinx, Hamilton MPPs Ted McMeekin and Andrea Horwath and members of Council for comment. More to come as we get responses.