By Kevin Werner, News Staff
The Liberals have jumped on the funding bus to pay for Hamilton’s transit needs, says the premier.
Kathleen Wynne said during a campaign stop at Stoney Creek’s Mohawk College campus May 12, the Liberals will provide the city will 100 per cent of the base funding for a light-rail transit system. She also added the Liberals will provide the base funding to any transit system that the city supports.
“We will work with the municipality of Hamilton to provide the base funding,” Wynne told reporters. “Not only (for) the LRT, but the integrated transit system. We want to make sure GO and the bus rapid transit and the LRT all work together.”
When asked again if the Liberals are committed to 100 per cent funding, Wynne responded “the base funding, absolutely.”
Some Hamilton councillors last week were delighted that the Liberals had taken to Twitter and announced the 100 per cent funding for the city. But they were confused the premier and Transportation Minister Glen Murray had made the announcement on the social media site rather than in a more formal announcement to provide better clarity.
In the Liberals transit funding announced in their failed May 1 budget, the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area would receive $15 billion, while the rest of the province would share about $14 billion. But at the time of the announcement it was unclear how much of the funding would be provided to Hamilton.
Councillors have backed the 14-km light-rail transit system from McMaster University to Eastgate Square but only if the provincial government funds 100 per cent of the capital cost, estimated so far to be over $800 million. Last week, though, some councillors were having second thoughts about an LRT system. Some suggested there should be a review done on bus rapid transit, which is less expensive than LRT, and could prove to be less disruptive to businesses and the public. Before adopting the LRT system contained in the city’s Rapid Ready transportation document early last year, councillors had debated the merits of LRT and BRT for about three years.
NDP leader Andrea Horwath said recently she supported LRT, and hoped council didn’t back down from its initial support.
During an interview with Hamilton Community News Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak said he didn’t think a Tory government would provide money to the city for a LRT system.
“I don’t see that as a priority for Hamiltonians,” he said. “That’s not simply my view. It’s what I hear in the area.”
He supported, instead, funding full-day two-way GO transit, and building the Mid-Peninsula Highway as an antidote to the area’s transit problems.
“If you want the LRT to spend a lot of money and tear up a lot of streets in Hamilton, you have two choices the Liberals and NDP, or the Progressive Conservatives,” he said.