Following the unexpected cancellation of the Hamilton LRT this week by the Doug Ford provincial government, Mississauga mayor Bonnie Crombie remains confident that the game changing Hurontario LRT project is safe.
The 19-stop Hurontario LRT, which is expected to transform development along that corridor, is expected to begin construction in the spring of 2020. In October, Mobilinx, and international transit consortium, signed a $4.6 billion contract to build, finance, operate and maintain the project for 30 years.
Crombie said the Hurontario LRT is “much further ahead,” and that she does not anticipate a cancellation.
“I think it’s full steam ahead for the Hurontario LRT,” she told the Mississauge News “We do have a signed contract with Mobolinx and we know that construction will begin in the springtime.”
Meanwhile, Hamilton politicians, citizens and developers remain angry today after the province officially cancelled its much needed LRT.
Stating that the project would cost 5 times the expected estimate, Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney left her (chaotically cancelled) press conference on Tuesday with a police escort in an effort to avoid protesters – who were there in anticipation of the LRT’s cancellation.
It’s just one in a series of unpopular decisions Doug Ford has made this year – and now over 75 per cent of Ontarians apparently dislike the premier – according to a new poll.
“More and more Ontarians are turning away from Doug Ford as his support is collapsing,” said Mainstreet Research CEO Quito Maggi, whose firm released new survey data this week. “We have never seen an incumbent premier reach these depths in popular opinion with barely a year into his mandate.”
Among the angriest are those commuting to the GTA on a daily basis – and of course, Hamilton’s Mayor Fred Eisenberger
“In my view that’s a betrayal of the city of Hamilton,” he said to reporters. “That is not working in good faith with a partner.”
“Their timing on this is just outrageous,” said Eisenberger. “If they were going to do this, they could have picked a better way.”
When provincial staffers moved Mulroney to another building, a couple of Hamilton city councillors followed: Couns. Maureen Wilson and John-Paul Danko – who were frustrated with the lack of information.
“My constituents demand answers and my job is to give them that information,” Danko said. “For the minister to come to Hamilton and not be prepared to face the public or face council, that’s just ridiculous.”
But disappointment was the theme of the day.
Eisenberger knew that the LRT would have “created hundreds of jobs,” provided economic uplift, cut carbon dioxide emissions and added to affordable housing. In the works since 2007, the line would have run 14 kilometres from McMaster University in the city’s west end to Eastgate Square.
It’s also surprising because of the $162 million Metrolinx has already spent on the project.
“It is frustrating news, but the stark fiscal reality is that the project will actually cost five times more than the previous government led us all to believe,” she told the associated press.
Meanwhile, reacting to the bombshell announcement, Hamilton city councillors from Stoney Creek have said that it’s time to rethink how to use the $1 billion the Progressive Conservatives say is still on the table following the cancellation of the LRT.
“I would expect council will regroup in January and begin heavy discussions on how to move forward,” said Coun. Brad Clark.
“The ball is in council’s court. If they get to work and find reasonable, pragmatic transit/transportation projects that can be applied for the $1 billion, we will get the money,” he said. “(If not), they may risk that $1 billion.”
The Toronto Sun has even accused the Ford government of launching a “war”.