THE city council of Hamilton, Ontario, has ratified a decision made during the city council meeting on September 8 to reinitiate the project to build a 14km light rail line in the city.

The council authorised the mayor of Hamilton, Mr Fred Eisenberger, and the city manager, Ms Janette Smith, to sign an agreement that will allow Metrolinx and its partner, the City of Hamilton, to establish a project team and progress together towards procurement and delivery of the project.

The proposed line will connect McMaster University with Eastgate and have 17 stops, and will include an interchange with the GO rail service at Hamilton GO centre as well as with local buses and bike sharing.

The Canadian federal and the provincial government of Ontario made a “take it or leave it” offer of $C 3.4bn split equally between each body in joint funding for the capital cost of the project on May 13. The city of Hamilton is expected to foot the cost of operating the system, which is estimated at $C 6.4-16.5m depending on ridership, which caused significant debate in the city council.

The administration of Ontario premier, Mr Doug Ford, cancelled the project in December 2019 due to “spiralling costs” beyond the previous Liberal government’s $C 1bn budget for the scheme. The province subsequently announced in February that it would provide $C 1bn in financing as long as the federal government matched this allocation. This ultimately increased to $C 1.7bn in the agreement announced in May.

Metrolinx says the project will include significant investment in public infrastructure such as roads, sidewalks, bridges, water mains, sewers, electrical distribution (hydro), telecommunications, natural gas, traffic control signals and streetlights. The agency said early works construction, such as utility relocations, is expected to start in early 2022.

“The B-Line LRT will be the spine of Hamilton’s future transit system, improving local transit options and modalities, and reducing congestion,” says Mr Keanin Loomis, president and CEO of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce. “Moreover, the transformative potential of this major infrastructure investment will provide 7000 jobs for Hamilton and neighbouring municipalities, that will in turn boost our post-pandemic economic recovery.”

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