1. Do you believe the city is at a point where it sufficiently understands the costs of a Light Rail Implementation? By sufficient, we mean sufficiently enough to pursue additional funding sources?
No I don't believe there is sufficient understanding. Even at this point in the project most of us were surprised that $9.1 million had already been spent, $5 million of which came from the City, the rest from the Province. We initially approved $200,000 a year for three years to run the LRT program, but have no recollection of further approvals that would amount to $5 million.
2. What is council’s understanding of the funding sources for Light Rail. Do we have an idea how much the municipal contribution will need to be, and are there any plans afoot to lobby the Federal government or other sources, to contribute funds?
The understanding of the municipal contribution ranged in different Councillors' minds from zero to one-third of the total, which is upwards of a billion dollars. It will be up to Metrolinx to create the funding strategy which is due in 2013. The presumption is that they would work out a partnership with the Federal Government to cover the total cost of all projects, not piecemeal. The original investment strategy published by Metrolinx in the Big Move document was based on $50 billion dollars over 25 years, or $2 billion a year. The following is lifted from the original document under Chairman Rob MacIsaac's signature.
Metrolinx has outlined the following vision for the Investment Strategy:
- Fair and equitable full-cost transportation pricing;
- Access to a range of dedicated, long-term funding sources and tools;
- Dedicated funding pledged back to support integrated multi-modal solutions;
- A shared responsibility by all three orders of government;
- A meaningful role for private-sector participation;
- Importance of public and stakeholder consultation/engagement;
- Commitment to performance measurement.
3. Assuming we can find our way through the funding challenges, what kind of impact do you think an implementation of LRT will have on Hamilton’s progress toward revitalization?
This is a difficult question to answer, but an excellent report on Transit-Oriented Development was prepared for the City by the McMaster Institute for Transportation and Logistics . http://mitl.mcmaster.ca/documents/MITL_LRT_August.pdf.
I urge any interested people to read it carefully. Briefly, the report suggests that such projects might need champions because the full benefits might not be realized for decades. This means the public might take some convincing. Buffalo has had their Metro system for 38 years, and authorities there tell me that currently there are some glimmers of the promised development along the route. I have my own ideas on how best to use LRT in the Hamilton context, but suffice it to say the revitalization of Hamilton is well underway, with new development in the billions of dollars throughout the City, and especially the Downtown core. How LRT best fits into the picture in my opinion needs further discussion.
Thanks Mayor Bratina for engaging with Hamiltonians on The Hamiltonian.