By Ryan McGreal
Published August 28, 2012
In an essay just published to his blog, Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina shares some highlights of the Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO) annual conference he just attended.
The Mayor starts with a summary of his meeting with Transport Minister Bob Chiarelli:
On Monday August 20, we met with the Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation Bob Chiarelli and members of his staff, including the Deputy Minister. Mr. Chiarelli initiated the conversation by asking whether we had pursued LRT funding with the Federal Government. On the question of LRT funding, he stated that a number of approaches are being considered in preparation for the Metrolinx budget presentation scheduled for June 2013, and that we should look at the Waterloo model as one example of how different levels of government might participate. There is to date, no specific funding formula but the clear message from the minister was that all municipalities are expected to be contributors.
Notwithstanding the Transportation Ministry's claim that Metrolinx projects are funded on a "case-by-case basis", the approach Metrolinx has taken so far with its approved LRT projects - like the $8 billion Eglinton Crosstown LRT has been to fund 100 percent of the direct capital costs and to own and operate the line once it is complete. That is also what Metrolinx has told Council and city staff about Hamilton's LRT plan.
The whole point of the province creating Metrolinx was to replace the previous ad-hoc approach to higher order transit with a coordinated, fully-funded regional strategy.
If the Province is backing away from that, it needs to do so openly instead of moving the goalposts and hoping no one notices.
The Big Move, Metrolinx's Regional Transportation Plan for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), identifies $50 billion in transit investments over twenty-five years, with the planned east-west B-Line LRT in Hamilton listed among the Top Transit Priorities to be completed in the first fifteen years.
Next June, Metrolinx is set to present an Investment Strategy that will recommend revenue sources to continue funding rapid transit projects in the GTHA once the original Metrolinx endowment of $18.5 billion is exhausted.