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Conservative MPP Donna Skelly draws line in the road on LRT commitment

Ontario's transportation minister could be meeting with Hamilton City Council in the near future, to discuss responsbility for potential cost overruns involving the LRT project.
Ontario's transportation minister could be meeting with Hamilton City Council in the near future, to discuss responsbility for potential cost overruns involving the LRT project. City of Hamilton

There’s another move to get clarification around the costs of Hamilton’s light rail transit (LRT) project.

Stoney Creek Councillor Brad Clark says he will be presenting a motion at city hall asking Ontario’s transportation minister to spell out in writing who is responsible for any construction costs that go beyond the province’s $1 billion commitment.

READ MORE: Hamilton mayor ‘delighted’ to hear premier’s comments on LRT

Flamborough Glanbrook Conservative MPP Donna Skelly may have answered that question on CHML during an interview with Bill Kelly on Wednesday morning.

“Having just returned from 10 days of pre-budget consultations,” Skelly said, “I can assure you that it is a billion and only a billion.”

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READ MORE: Mayor Eisenberger touts mandate to build Hamilton LRT in inaugural address

She cited the province’s $15 billion deficit in adding that “the city will be responsible for finding out how [to] cover any additional costs,” if they exceed $1 billion.

WATCH: Focus Ontario – Congested Lanes and Crowded Trains

Click to play video 'Focus Ontario – Congested Lanes & Crowded Trains' Focus Ontario – Congested Lanes & Crowded Trains
Focus Ontario – Congested Lanes & Crowded Trains – Jan 19, 2019

Skelly says there was only a “vague understanding” of how the extra kilometres would be paid for when the eastern end of the LRT project was extended from the Queenston Traffic Circle to Eastgate Square in April 2017 to garner support from reluctant politicians. As a result, she believes the potential for cost overruns is a big concern.

READ MORE: Province approves extending Hamilton’s LRT to Eastgate Square

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City councillors may be able to get their answers from Ontario’s Transportation Minister face to face, rather than having to wait for a written response.

Skelly says she’s been in discussions with the minister, Jeff Yurek, as they look at dates to bring him to Hamilton to meet with council.

Metrolinx, the province’s transportation agency, issued a Request for Proposals to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the Hamilton LRT project last April. The contract is scheduled to be awarded later this year.

READ MORE: Metrolinx pumps the brakes on Hamilton land purchases for LRT

The west-east line will run 14 kilometres from McMaster University to Eastgate Square, primarily along Main Street and Queenston Road.