Ontario Government pulls the plug on Light Rail Transit in Hamilton

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The Ontario Government announced that they are pulling the plug on Light Rail Transit in Hamilton.

Today, the Government of Ontario announced the cancellation of the procurement for the Hamilton LRT project.

Infrastructure Ontario has notified the Proponent teams who were bidding on the project. As per the Break Fee policy outlined in the Request for Proposals, teams will receive a stipend according to their involvement in the procurement process. IO and Metrolinx will be meeting with teams in the coming days to discuss next steps.

Over the coming weeks, the Province will work with the City to determine alternative opportunities to deliver on its $1 billion funding commitment to ensure the City gets the transportation infrastructure that it needs.

We look forward to working together with our industry partners to deliver on more than $60 billion worth of projects highlighted in our Fall 2019 P3 Market Update. – Source

According to Robert Benzie, the Queen’s Park Bureau Chief for the Toronto Star, Premier Doug Ford told Global Newsradio AM 640 that the province’s price-tag estimate includes operating costs for years. That’s how they have arrived at the $5.5 billion number.

Colin D’Mello, Queen’s Park Bureau chief for CTV News Toronto, caught up with Transportation minister Caroline Mulroney who confirmed the government has taken 30 years of capital costs for the Hamilton LRT and compiled them into one $5.5-billion figure. Mulroney previously cancelled her press conference in Hamilton earlier in the day and fled without taking questions with media or Hamilton Councillors.

The Government of Ontario’s $5.5 billion number is a manufactured and artificially inflated number.

  • $2.85 billion capital construction costs
  • $765 million other capital costs (incl. property acquisition)
  • $980 million provincial operating costs
  • $950 million municipal operating costs

Ryan McGreal of Raise the Hammer pointed out that even the $2.85 billion dollar figure doesn’t make sense. Other comparable LRT projects (including Waterloo Region) were built for far less. The Kitchener-Waterloo project cost $818 million for 18 km of LRT. Hamilton’s LRT project was actually 4km shorter, making the $2.85 billion figure more absurd.

With the cancellation, mere months before the work was to go out to tender, there’s no way to know what the actual figure would have been.

About 40 employees being funded by Metrolinx will also lose their jobs just before Christmas.

Back in March 2018, Premier Ford pledged his support for Hamilton’s LRT project. Just 8 months ago the Province announced they were purchasing property in the city for an LRT storage facility.