Ontario’s ‘financial watchdog’ to examine costs of Hamilton LRT

Published December 21, 2019 at 9:58 pm

More fallout from the axing of the Hamilton LRT project by the provincial Conservative government continues, as Ontario’s Auditor General has announced that she will now be looking to see if the LR

More fallout from the axing of the Hamilton LRT project by the provincial Conservative government continues, as Ontario’s Auditor General has announced that she will now be looking to see if the LRT was costing as much as the Doug Ford government has claimed.

Bonnie Lysyk has sent a letter to Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath in response to a request from Horwath for the AG office to look into the costs of the project presented under Ford’s and the previous Liberal provincial government.

“As part of the ongoing audit work, we identified Metrolinx Governance and Operations as a candidate for a value-for-money audit and initiated the audit earlier this month. As part of this audit, we will be looking into at the reasonableness of the cost estimates for rapid transit projects, including the Hamilton LRT,” Lysyk said in her letter.

Other light rail projects that are under the Metrolinx umbrella include the Eglinton Crosstown LRT and the Hurontario LRT.

The Tories estimated that it would cost $5.5 billion over a 30 year period to build and operate the Hamilton LRT, and used that as the reason why they were cancelling the project.

In a press release soon after that decision was announced, the NDP said they believe that construction of the LRT should continue, with the province paying for 50 per cent of the operating expenses.

“Hamiltonians need a way to get students to campus, give workers quicker commutes with less congestion so they can get home to their families, and they deserve a way to help get some of the cars off the road. People deserve quicker commutes and less congestion. And if we don’t build now, it’ll only get more expensive to do it as Hamilton keeps booming, and the need for a good LRT system gets more and more dire,” Horwath said.

Besides Lysyk looking into the numbers, the Laborer’s International Union of North America (LiUNA), a union which endorsed Doug Ford in the 2018 provincial election, announced that they would be doing their own study on how much it would cost to build the Hamilton LRT system, according to the CBC.

The LRT would have run from the west end of Hamilton at McMaster University for 14 kilometres to Eastgate Square, running along the Main and King Street corridors.

An estimated $184 million dollars has already been spent in the early stages, with approximately $80 million of that being spent on full or partial purchases of properties along the proposed corridors.

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