Hamilton will not have to choose between all-day GO Train service to Stoney Creek and an east-west LRT, according to the province.
"The government is committed to all-day GO Service, and that is unrelated to our plans for the Hamilton LRT," said Kelly Baker, a spokesperson for the Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.
This statement conflicts with comments Mayor Bob Bratina made about a conversation he had with the premier at a recent fundraiser for local MPP Ted McMeekin.
'There's a disconnect between what council's position is and what the mayor believes it to be.'—Councillor Sam Merulla
He told the Hamilton Spectator the city "would have to look at" whether it wants the province to extend all-day, two-day GO Train service to Stoney Creek or to reaffirm its commitment to lower-city LRT line that would run east-west from Eastgate Square and McMaster University.
Council voted in February to ask the province to cover all of the capital costs associated with the construction of the 13.5 km line, an $800-million price tag.
Sam Merulla, councillor for Ward 4, called Bratina's comments "a distraction" and said "there's a disconnect between what council's position is and what the mayor believes it to be."
"We need to focus on communicating our wishes to provinces without any obstruction or confusion," he added.
Metrolinx, a provincial agency that coordinates transit expansion in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), has already committed to creating all-day, two-day GO service to a new James North GO station in downtown Hamilton by 2015. And the body announced in November that rapid transit for downtown Hamilton is one its top priority for the "next wave" of the Big Move, the $50-billion plan to build rapid transit across the region.
An environment assessment has already been completed on the possible expansion of GO service to the Niagara region, which would include at least one stop in Stoney Creek. The province has yet to decide on whether to proceed with the project.
Province to move ahead with tolls, taxes to pay for transit: Wynne
Bratina's comments came on the same day Wynne announced her plans for the province to move ahead with new levies to raise money for public transit upgrades in the GTHA area — even if some municipalities oppose the measures.
She says she'd prefer to have their support to raise the $2-billion a year that's needed for transit in the region.
But she says the governing Liberals will take action. Provincial transport agency Metrolinx is suggesting highway tolls, raising the sales tax and a half-cent-a-litre tax on gasoline.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has already made it clear that he'll oppose them all. Other municipal politicians outside Toronto — including several Hamilton councillors — have been concerned about paying for improvements to services their residents don't use.
"[My constituents] would be very angry, they would be strongly opposed to it," Brad Clark, councillor for Ward 9 and an opponent of the LRT plan, told CBC Hamilton in March.
Last week, Wynne suggested in an interview with The Canadian Press that she won't hike property taxes, saying it's not enough to pay for all the transit infrastructure that's needed in the region.
She said she'll consider all the options, but won't make a decision until she looks at Metrolinx's final report in June.