Hamilton mayor says millions of dollars have been wasted with cancelled LRT
A rendering of a planned light rail transit line in Hamilton that was cancelled in 2019 is shown. The provincial and federal governments have committed $3.4 billion in funding to revive the project.
TORONTO -- Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger has penned an open letter to Ontario Premier Doug Ford calling the cancellation of the Hamilton LRT a “personal betrayal” and suggesting that “millions of dollars” have been wasted as a result of the decision.
The letter comes days after the Progressive Conservative government announced – with little warning – that the capital and operational costs of the Hamilton LRT has grown to $5.5 billion over 30 years, from the previous $1 billion estimate.
Ford has blamed the former Liberal government, alleging the party knew about the true costs of the 14-kilometere line but hid the numbers from the public.
Former Premier Kathleen Wynne has denied Ford’s claims and cast doubt on the $5.5 billion figure.
Eisenberger, however, suggests the true blame should lie with Ford, whose government had repeatedly restated its commitment to the project.
“You sent your then-transportation minister, Jeff Yurek, to Hamilton on April 10, 2019, to confirm to me face-to-face that your government was backing the LRT project,” Eisenberger said in his letter.
“I thought you were a man of your word, but I was wrong. That is why I now call this a betrayal.”
The premier has not responded to the letter.
Calls to release full cancellation costs
Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath is calling on the government to release the full costs of the cancellation, including the potential break fees for firms that were preparing to bid on the contracts.
The initial request for proposals outlined a break fee that would be paid to a potential bidder “if the project is cancelled.”
“More than $180 million in public money has already gone into the Hamilton LRT, along with an untold amount of private investment from developments counting on the LRT,” Horwath said.
“The people of Ontario deserve to know how much more of their money Doug Ford is planning to spend to scrap the plan for this vital piece of transit infrastructure.”
The government has refused to put a figure on the amount of money it may have to pay as a result of the cancellation.