Mayors of Oakville, Burlington blindsided and angry at $117 million cost overruns on Metrolinx project

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Published March 2, 2022 at 10:58 am

City officials in Burlington and Oakville are irate over the massive cost increase around the railway underpass planned for Burloak Dr.

Initially set to cost $60M, with the two municipalities splitting their half ($15M each), the price tag has ballooned to $177.3M with Metrolinx demanding the communities pay nearly $45M each.

We are extremely disappointed upon learning of the three-fold cost increase for the Burloak Drive underpass project after Metrolinx and its P3 bidding process blew the lid off the budget,” said Oakville Mayor Rob Burton.

This is a critical infrastructure project and we will explore every option available to keep it on schedule. We are committed to continuing our discussions with Metrolinx and the City of Burlington to jointly seek solutions.”

The project was supposed to start in 2019 and be completed by 2023 with the agreed-upon max costs of $60M. According to Burlington city staff, Metrolinx has been aware of the massive increase in project cost since last summer but wouldn’t share details with the local municipalities.

At a city committee meeting yesterday, Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward said she was blind-sided by the request.

This is why residents’ blood boils when they hear about cost overruns,” she said. “For a project to go from $60M to beyond $177M is beyond belief.”

Meed Ward said she was approached by Metrolinx about 10 days ago for what she thought was an update on the Lakeshore West line. Instead, without prior consultation, it was to tell her that the project cost had tripled.

This is the kind of government cost overrun and delay that rightly makes our residents fume and demand answers. It is beyond belief this project is several years late and has ballooned from an estimated cost of $60M to $177M. There was no warning to our staff, no accountability and no transparency. We were all blindsided. To then demand the City contribute an additional $30 million to cover these overruns, on top of the capped $15 million amount we have agreed to, is completely unacceptable.”

The mayor is insisting on a meeting with Metrolinx of all the partners and will strongly suggest Metrolinx should be on the hook for the cost overruns beyond the original $60M.

“Our City council, together with staff, must send a strong message that the lack of collaboration and transparency is not an appropriate way to treat a municipal partner. We will work with our MPPs to get the ear of the Premier, Minister of Transportation and Metrolinx for an immediate meeting to discuss a way forward that is agreeable to all of us, on a project that started out being 100% funded jointly by the Federal and Provincial governments.”

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