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Doug Ford open to letting Londoners choose the transit they want

Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford holds a unity rally in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018.
Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford holds a unity rally in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Days after Ontario PC leader Doug Ford said he would let the people of Hamilton decide the future of their LRT project, he’s saying the same for Londoners.

Former London Police Services Board budget chair Paul Paolatto, who has said he will run for mayor of London once nominations open May 1st, had called on Ford to make the same promise for London.

The provincial Liberals have committed $170-million to London’s BRT project, but only for the current project.

READ MORE: Doug Ford promises to let the people of Hamilton decide fate of LRT

In a statement to 980 CFPL, Ontario PC party spokeswoman Melissa Lantsman said Londoners would be allowed to choose what’s best for them.

“Folks across Ontario can count on him to build transit, reduce congestion, and get people moving. He is open to studying bus rapid transit in London moving forward, and will work with Londoners to see what works best for them – the money promised will stay in London for transit based on what Londoners want,” said Lantsman. “The reality is that Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals can’t be trusted when it comes to building transit. They constantly over-promise and under-deliver – breaking key promises and delivering projects late and over-budget.”

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London has committed $130-million to the city’s $500-million BRT plan.

The federal government has set aside $204-million for transit in London, but not specifically for BRT.

READ MORE: Wynne announces $11B for London-Toronto high speed rail line

Paolatto told 980 CFPL he isn’t picking teams but likes that Ford is empowering cities.

“I don’t know Mr. Ford well enough yet to make a determination but what I did like is he’s empowering the people of Hamilton to decide their transportation future,” he said.

Ford told a crowd in Hamilton earlier this month a PC government would instead listen, and “if people want the LRT, the majority of people, we’re gonna move forward based on where they want it.”

“If they don’t want it, we’re still going to keep the money into infrastructure in Hamilton.”

READ MORE: Report delay means bus rapid transit will be key municipal election issue in London

Ford has previously said any transit plan in London would need to be financially sound.

Bus rapid transit is shaping up to be the dominant issue in this fall’s municipal campaign.

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Paolatto, former councillor Stephen Orser and businessman Paul Cheng, three presumed candidates for mayor have stated issues with London’s BRT plan. Mayor Matt Brown has been a staunch supporter of the plan, but announced last week he wouldn’t run for re-election leaving the mayors race without a BRT champion.