Hamilton real estate LRT Metrolinx

03 Aug 10 Answers to Burning Questions About LRT in Hamilton

10 Answers to Burning Questions About LRT in Hamilton

If Hamilton doesn’t build LRT, does it lose the $1 billion from the province?

                Yes. The money comes from a fund called Moving Ontario Forward, and for Hamilton, it’s reserved for rapid transit. That means Hamilton can only use it for LRT or bus rapid transit (BRT). It can’t be used it for regular buses.

 

If Hamilton doesn’t take the $1 billion, will it get more money for transit, or for other infrastructure, such as roads?

                No. Regular infrastructure funding is a separate pot. In the GTHA (greater Toronto-Hamilton area), Moving Ontario Forward money can only be used for rapid transit. The province did set aside money for transit projects outside the GTHA. But Hamilton is within the GTHA, Nichols says, so that money can only be used for rapid transit. It’s also not tied to grants for roads.

Why LRT over other rapid transit options?

                LRT was chosen by the province for Hamilton because it generated the most transit and economic benefits. Metrolinx 2010 benefits analysis study concluded that while LRT was the most costly option compared to BRT (bus rapid transit) or phased LRT, it promised $850 million in transit user benefits and another $144 million in investment and development. BRT, by comparison, promised roughly half those benefits. 

LRT will bring economic uplift to Hamilton, including more tax assessment along the route, generating more tax dollars for Hamilton because of a “LRT premium” on nearby properties.

 

Can there be a referendum?

                There can, but the city estimates it would cost $1 million to have one outside a general election. It would also delay the project and jeopardize the 2019 timeline to start construction.

What happens if the project goes over $1 billion?

                The province says it won’t. The memorandum of agreement between Metrolinx and the city says that Metrolinx will build the project within that budget using a fixed-price contract. If it looks like it will cost more than $1 billion, Metrolinx officials have said, then it will scale down the project.

What if they dig into the ground and discover more infrastructure that needs to be fixed? Does the city have to pay for that?

                It depends. Metrolinx is responsible for relocating city-owned and third-party infrastructure, the city says. The city contributes if the infrastructure is already slated for replacement in the city’s capital plan, or if it wants to do upgrades. Many councillors have questioned various potential scenarios around this.

Will construction happen in stages, or will construction tear up the whole length at the same time?

                No one knows yet. That will be decided when Metrolinx starts to get quotes and select companies to do the work. Some LRT construction projects happen in phases. In Waterloo, they are doing the entire length all at once.

What do the mountain and other areas of Hamilton get out of it?

                LRT advocates say LRT as a whole lifts the image and the whole transit system for Hamilton, and will generate economic uplift and new taxes that will benefit everyone. But Mountain councillors say they’re having a hard time explaining the benefits to residents.

                Terry Whitehead, Ward 8 councillor, says he’d hoped LRT would free up more buses to run on the Mountain. But Dave Dixon, head of HSR, says that’s not how he would approach that. The city runs HSR based on a service standard, and as long as an area is meeting that standard, there’s no need to add buses. It’s more likely reduced need for buses in the lower city would just means the HSR would just not have to spend more money to purchase buses in the following years. But councillors could decide to run more buses on the Mountain if that was what was wanted or needed.

Will the construction make people go out of business?

                They might. It’s hard to know. In Kitchener-Waterloo, for example, the Downtown Kitchener BIA said late last year that it knew of a couple of businesses that moved and cited LRT construction, but there have also been new businesses open along the route too, so it’s hard to tell. Starting in May, the city of Hamilton starting sending an outreach team to visit every affected business along the route twice a year. 

Click here to learn about the LRT and the effect transportation improvements have on property values.

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