City of Mississauga not bailing on LRT plans despite speculation

The City of Mississauga remains committed to the light-rail transit system that will travel the length of Hurontario Street through the city and into Brampton

The City of Mississauga remains committed to its plans for Light Rail Transit in spite of a lack of funding set aside for it in its 2013 budget.

“The City of Mississauga is preparing for Light Rail Transit on the Hurontario corridor,” Mayor Hazel McCallion said in a statement released today. “We are working towards bringing it to Mississauga. Light Rail Transit continues to be a priority and we know it represents the future for our City.”

City chief administrative officer Janice Baker said the city has not set aside money for the project in its upcoming budget due to uncertainty about funding from other government sources and sufficient information about total costs. “There has been a lot of uncertainty about how these very, very large infrastructure projects are going to be delivered and funded in the future,” Baker said.

Baker said she was delighted by the Metrolinx announcement Thursday that identified the Hurontario line as a project that will be delivered as part of the Big Move plan, but the organization still has a lot of research left to do. “Metrolinx is still going out to do the consultation on how are we going to pay for these large inter-regional projects,” Baker said.

“At this point and time we do not know what contribution, if any, the city will have to make to the construction of the project.”

Once the information is available, the city will be able to make an assessment of what their budget requirements will be, Baker said.

She cited the recently announced bus rapid transit line as an example of the long-term planning involved and when the city would get involved financially.

“It took us 12 years to get the funding approved for that project,” Baker said. “Once the province and federal government announced their portion, we knew what the city expected of us and we stepped up and put that in our budget.”

Even though the project was not in the city’s budget for all those years, Baker said it was actively part of their transit plan. “And now we’re building it,” she said. “There should be nothing read into the fact that the LRT right now doesn’t have a budget line in our capital budget as somehow we’re backing off from the need or support for the project.”

As an example of this ongoing interest and support in the project, Baker pointed to the $15 million currently being spent between the City of Mississauga and the City of Brampton to do a preliminary design and complete an environmental assessment.

The federal government has already rejected demands by mayors from major Canadian cities, including McCallion and Brampton’s Susan Fennell, to double their transportation funding.

Metrolinx’s Big Move is a $50 billion, 25-year, regional transportation plan to fight traffic gridlock for the GTA and Hamilton area. It has already received $16 billion in financing commitments from the provincial government. The first projects include an LRT plan and subway expansion in Toronto, the Mississauga bus-based rapid transit line opening next year and expanded bus service in York Region.

Yesterday, during Metrolinx’s announcement of new projects at the Toronto Board of Trade, president and CEO Bruce McCuaig also expressed a desire to make the planned rail link between Pearson and Toronto’s Union Station electric instead of diesel.

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