Transport Action Ontario issued the following statement on December 18, 2019 regarding the cancellation of the Hamilton LRT project.
Transport Action Ontario is profoundly disappointed with the Ontario government decision to cancel the Hamilton LRT project. Work had been underway on this project for many years, with over $160 million expended by Metrolinx on design and property acquisition, with more than 60 properties acquired and residents relocated. There are many troubling aspects about this decision.
Without completing the RFP process, the province’s figure of $5 billion (including 30 years of operating costs) is even more of a guesstimate that the previous government’s forecast. Other LRT projects in Ontario have come in at a much lower figure than this. The fact that the government will not release the third-party report that generated the $5 billion figure is also very troubling.
A business-friendly environment for investment and job creation requires political stability and long-term infrastructure planning. Businesses have been making investments in Hamilton for several years based on the promised LRT. This is a slap in the face that will also make businesses think twice about planned investments along other promised transit corridors in the GTA. This cancellation contradicts Ontario’s objective of being “open for business”.
It is not clear from the Minister whether all the proven benefits of LRT have been fully considered. Downtown air quality in Hamilton would see significant improvement from the reduction of engine emissions, toxic PM2.5 particulates, brake and tire dust. The negative health effects of these airborne compounds in vehicle traffic-dense areas and their heavy burden on health care costs are alarming the health research community. Higher incidence of respiratory diseases and reduced brain function are, they say, a direct result of poor air quality. LRT in Hamilton would help to alleviate this growing problem.
There is a demonstrated need – economically, socially and environmentally – for the Hamilton LRT. Meanwhile the expert panel that reviewed the widely-opposed 413 GTA-West expressway project found that the need for it could not be adequately demonstrated and that tax dollars invested in transit and road alternatives would do more to reduce congestion. That report has now been deleted from the Ministry of Transportation website, and the $5 billion+ project restarted. The government has thus opened itself up to the perception that it has resurrected a known boondoggle at Hamilton’s expense.