London city staff to release recommendations on spending $370M in transportation funding
London city staff will be releasing a list of transportation projects that can use $370-million in senior government funding on Wednesday, along with a set of recommendations for how to spend the cash.
It’s the latest step in determining the future of the city’s bus-rapid-transit plan. With a federal election on the horizon, and an Ontario premier intent on balancing a budget, some city politicians hope to pick and choose parts of the contentious $500-million project to push forward.
That means it may look nothing like the preliminary design approved by council last May.
“I think we’re going to see a dramatic change,” said Steve Lehman, a first-time councillor in Ward 8.
Whatever projects are approved, Lehman says he wants them to be flexible for future technology.
“Ten years ago, we didn’t have the iPhone, four years ago, we didn’t have Uber. What’s the world going to look like in 10 years? Let’s make sure that nothing permanent is in place, so that we can’t move quickly to allow for that, because 10 years from now, we might not have the feds giving us $400 million to make those changes.”
A number of city politicians, including Mayor Ed Holder, advocated for parts of the bus-rapid-transit plan during their election campaigns last fall. Those parts include road widening, smart traffic signals and bus bays.
Under former Liberal leadership, the province committed $170 million in bus-rapid-transit funding, though in his election campaign, Premier Doug Ford said he’d let Londoners decide how to spend the transportation-related cash.
The federal government has invested $204 million for transportation projects in London, saying the money wasn’t specifically tied to the bus-rapid-transit project.
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