November 10th marked an important deadline for the Main Street LRT Extension, a flagship project with wide-reaching implications for our downtown revitalization and broader regional economic growth. Six months prior on May 10th, city council set in motion a process that directed staff to gather additional information, including on funding opportunities.
At the conclusion of this process, with no commitment for the nearly three-fold more expensive preferred tunnel option, it’s more apparent than ever that the case for the city’s preferred tunnel option is weak and that tough decisions about the path forward are needed.
The Board of Trade has been clear throughout the lifetime of this project: we support LRT and believe it is an urgent priority. We will support whichever format will receive full funding and be built soonest.
On May 10th we were also clear: the city should use the six month window to seek out a firm funding commitment from either, or both, senior levels of government, for the project in its entirety, and be prepared to move forward with the option that full funding is committed for. We sent correspondence to Minister Surma (Ontario) and Minister LeBlanc (Canada) calling on them to make full funding commitments during the six month window to provide council with greater clarity on which option to move forward.
Looking at the many projects competing for infrastructure funding all across Ontario, as well as cost overruns on several high profile projects, it is clear that there is no political appetite to overspend on higher order transit. The Board of Trade recommends that council move forward with TPAP for the surface option, bringing the option with the clearest path to full funding that much closer to completion.
Alternately, if council insists on furthering the tunnel option in the absence of a full funding commitment, an honest conversation with Brampton taxpayers about what the more than one billion dollar property tax contribution will look like is long overdue.
As progress chugs along on the Hazel McCallion Line from Port Credit to Steeles, the contrast with the still-in-limbo Main Street Extension is becoming clearer and clearer. Brampton businesses, commuters and families have waited long enough. It’s time to move forward with a fully funded option.