Doug Ford's Government Scrapped The Hamilton LRT & Residents Think They Know Why
Hamilton's mayor called the move a "betrayal."
For those counting on the Hamilton LRT being built, December 16 was a tough day. Ontario's Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney says the Conservative government will no longer fund the highly-anticipated project due to a recent overview of the cost in doing so. What once had an estimated $1 billion price tag is now supposedly costing $5.5 billion, officially prompting the project to be scrapped.
According to Hamilton councillors, the provincial Minister for Transportation, Caroline Mulroney, was scheduled to hold a media briefing on Monday, Dec. 16 to deliver an update.
Instead, as reported from the scene by Hamilton councillors including Nrinder Nann, Mulroney cancelled that appearance at very short notice.
She then released a written statement that revealed the in-progress transit plan had been dismissed.
Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger said he feels "betrayed" by the move and shared some words for the Ontario government.
"I am extremely disappointed by the Minister’s approach to informing the City of this announcement and for cancelling their scheduled media availability and briefing," reads Mayor Eisenberger's statement.
"This is a betrayal by the province to the City of Hamilton. This will not only hurt Hamilton’s economy but Ontario’s economy."
According to CBC, Eisenberger said he was only told of the government's decision about an hour before Mulroney was supposed to make an announcement.
While calling out Toronto and Mississauga transportation projects being more expensive, Eisenberger said he's found that that "Ontario is an unreliable partner."
"Ontario is not a place where you can do business because of the Ford government," he added. "Ford’s message to the world is take your business elsewhere."
Per CBC, Mulroney's statement laid the blame for the spiralling costs of the LRT project at the feet of Kathleen Wynne's Liberal government which was ousted from power 18 months ago.
"The project will actually cost five times more than the previous government led us all to believe," reads part of the minister's explanatation.
"For many years, members of the former Liberal government including former Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca, were not upfront about the true cost of the Hamilton Light Raul Transit project."
Del Duca himself issued a stinging response on Twitter, in which he said Ford has been "searching for a way to kill the Hamilton LRT" since day one of his time as premier.
But Hamiltonians on Twitter seem to think there's a different reason behind the decision, and they suggest it has far more to do with Hamilton than any financial or external factors.
"Of course no Hamilton LRT!" read one tweet. "#HamOnt didn't vote for Doug Ford! Did anyone really expect otherwise?"
Some Hamilton residents may believe they have a right to feel that way after comments Ford made just last month.
However, according to CBC, Ford had promised Mayor Eisenberger that if he wanted an LRT, he'd get his LRT. That reported promise has now been broken
In her release, Mulroney did announce the creation of a Hamilton Transportation Task Force and said that more details will be announced before the year ends.
For now, then, $1 billion still looks to be on the table for Hamilton's future in transportation.