There will be a focus on opportunities for local workers, apprentices and suppliers during construction of Hamilton's $1 billion LRT project.

That was the message from Jamie Robinson, responsible for community relations and communications for Metrolinx light transit projects. He talked about so-called "community benefits agreements" at a gathering of construction contractors organized by the Hamilton Halton Construction Association on Thursday.

Exactly how many jobs or how much local procurement is still up in the air, but he said Metrolinx policy is that "where we're making these kinds of investments, the community should benefit."

Considerations include requiring contractors to state – and Metrolinx figuring out how to monitor and track – how many jobs and apprenticeships they'll create for local people.

'Part of it is being aware'

There's also an emphasis on how much of their procurement can be done using local vendors – which could involve things like requiring advance notice of certain needs or holding a fair for local businesses to offer their services, like sign-printing for example.

"Part of it is being aware of the [contracts] that goes out," Robinson said. "If I'm running a company and I've got to get some signs printed, I'll go to my supplier."

Robinson said the goal is to make contractors aware of local options for the things they're doing.

But local social service agencies may also be tapped to identify people in neighbourhoods directly affected by LRT construction to "get the training to get them job-ready" for the kinds of jobs that will be created in the project.

Hamilton will have a chance to see the kind of thing that could be coming as the local LRT gets closer by following what happens at the Metrolinx LRT project called Eglington Crosstown in Toronto.

The contract for that project was awarded last July and the agency required a community benefits plan and apprenticeship plan to be drafted within six months, Robinson said.

Robinson said details of those plans should be public within the next month.