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GIC vote to accept $3.4B offered for Hamilton LRT, council votes next week

An artists rendering of Hamilton's LRT project. The federal and provincial governments have offered $3.4 billion to build the 14 kilometre line. Metrolinx

Hamilton’s light rail transit project is back on the rails.

The city’s general issues committee (GIC) voted 9-6 on Wednesday to negotiate a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Metrolinx, regarding a 14 kilometre LRT line from McMaster University to Eastgate Square.

City council must still ratify GIC’s decision next Wednesday.

Another vote will eventually be needed to approve the MOU, once it has been negotiated and presented to councillors.

Read more: City staff estimates annual cost to run Hamilton LRT ahead of council discussion

Stoney Creek Coun. Brad Clark remains opposed to the project, saying he is speaking for a majority of Ward 9 residents, but he has applauded Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger’s advocacy in landing the $3.4 billion federal and provincial investment to build Hamilton’s LRT.

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“I didn’t think the feds were going to come on board, I think I told the mayor that”, said Clark, “so congratulations are in order to his advocacy.”

“Can we adopt the same spirit that Councillor Clark just identified, which is to get on board and do what we can to make this work?”, asked Mayor Eisenberger, “as opposed to continuing to undermine or look for ways of wiggling our way out of this.”

“In my view, the community is well served by this great opportunity”, added Eisenberger, “to ensure that there is a great, potential investment here that is going to serve all of our constituents superbly well over the long term.”

Click to play video: 'McKenna outlines over $10B in federal funding for 4 GTA transit projects' McKenna outlines over $10B in federal funding for 4 GTA transit projects
McKenna outlines over $10B in federal funding for 4 GTA transit projects – May 11, 2021

Ancaster Coun. Lloyd Ferguson voted in favour of moving the project forward after getting assurances that the city’s future responsibility for daily operating and maintenance costs can be offset, by removing 29 buses from the existing “B-Line” once LRT is built, and by eliminating certain downtown tax incentive programs.

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Dundas Coun. Arlene Vanderbeek was also persuaded by those assurances, saying “we can have some control as a council over the operating costs, and how we can monitor them, and how we can affect them.”

Voting in favour of negotiating the MOU were Mayor Eisenberger, Councillors Ferguson, Vanderbeek, Maureen Wilson, Jason Farr, Nrinder Nann, Sam Merulla, Esther Pauls and John-Paul Danko.

Councillors Chad Collins, Tom Jackson, Brad Clark, Maria Pearson, Brenda Johnson and Judi Partridge voted in opposition on Wednesday, while Councillor Terry Whitehead remained absent, on sick leave.

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