Light Rail

Mayor: Municipality Expected to Contribute to LRT

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.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted August 28, 2012 at 14:57:06

Mayor Bratina wrote, " Mr. Chiarelli initiated the conversation by asking whether we had pursued LRT funding with the Federal Government." Well, what was the answer to Mr Chiarelli's question?

Wish the mayor would pursue LRT funding with the provincial government too.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted August 28, 2012 at 15:00:41

What!? The Province is now asking Hamilton to go out and try to raise its own money for LRT by negotiating directly with the Federal Government!

This was not at all how Metrolinx was supposed to work.

The Kitchener-Waterloo LRT project predates Metrolinx, and in any case K-W is not part of Metrolinx, but Hamilton most certainly is. Metrolinx was created to plan, finance, build and operate transit throughout the GTA and Hamilton. The large scale coordination and centralized decision making was why it was created! Apparently we are now going back to the pre-Metrolinx era of uncoordinated planning and ad hoc case-by-case cobbled together financing.

The Province would clearly like the Federal government to contribute to fund Metrolinx projects, which they should, but the idea was never that the Province would download the Federal fundraising to the municipalities. The Government of Ontario was supposed to do the negotiating and ensure Metrolinx was fully funded to be able to complete its projects.

Telling the individual municipalities to raise the money directly from the Federal Government is a recipe for confusion, delay and ultimately killing the projects, as the ground rules constantly change and cities compete with each other to get money from both levels of government.

Minister Chiarelli's comments show that either he didn't think carefully before speaking (maybe he is obsessed by fund raising and budget cuts), or that he is planning on effectively killing the legislated planning and financing role of Metrolinx.

It also ignores the point that this is manifestly not the deal they offered Toronto and other municipalities!

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2012-08-28 15:02:53

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By DemonioAzul (anonymous) | Posted August 29, 2012 at 13:22:07

Unfortunately, Metrolinx' mandate states:

“regional transportation area” means the area that includes the geographic areas of the City of Toronto, the City of Hamilton, The Regional Municipality of Durham, The Regional Municipality of Halton, The Regional Municipality of Peel and The Regional Municipality of York and any additional prescribed areas; (“secteur régional de transport”)

Therefore, under "any additional prescribed areas" they may operate in Waterloo too...

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By George (registered) | Posted August 29, 2012 at 16:13:31 in reply to Comment 80139

But they aren't. K-W's LRT has not involved metrolinx.

On June 28, 2010, the Province of Ontario committed $300 million towards the capital cost of constructing a rapid transit system in Waterloo Region. On September 2, 2010, the Government of Canada committed one-third of the eligible costs, up to $265 million to support the construction of the Region's rapid transit project. The Region's portion of the capital cost is $253 million. On June 15, 2011, Regional Council approved the funding for the Region's portion of the Stage 1 capital costs, subject to annual budget deliberations.

Comment edited by George on 2012-08-29 16:15:44

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