We want money for more rapid transit, city will tell feds and province

"The province is going to wonder what we're smoking," one city councillor says. City council is still debating over the existing LRT project.

'The province is going to wonder what we're smoking,' says Lloyd Ferguson

City councillors want to ask the province for more money for rapid transit for other parts of Hamilton. (City of Hamilton)

Hamilton city councillors are still sparring over a current $1 billion LRT project. Now some have voted to ask the provincial and federal governments for more money to build rapid transit in the rest of the city.

Now we want to build everything.- Lloyd Ferguson, Ancaster councillor

That prompted one bewildered councillor to say the province will "wonder what we're smoking."

Members of Hamilton's LRT subcommittee voted Tuesday to ask the province and feds for money to expand LRT on the B line, as well as eventual lines on the Mountain, Waterdown and heading out to the airport.

The plan, known as the BLAST network, is included in the city's long-term transit plan. But Lloyd Ferguson, Ancaster councillor, said the latest ask is strange timing given that council is still arguing over the current LRT plan.

"We just spent the last two and a half hours debating phase one," he said. And "now we want to build everything."

"The province is going to wonder what we're smoking."

Metrolinx and the city are working on a plan to build light rail transit from McMaster University to the Queenston traffic circle, running alternatively down Main and King streets.

This map shows the future stops of Hamilton's light-rail transit route. Two of the stops - Wellington and Catharine - have been moved to bookend the International Village. (Metrolinx/City of Hamilton)

The system will also run along James Street North from King Street to the West Harbour GO station — or the waterfront, budget permitting.

It's a motion that says let's fulfill what we've already agreed to do.- Mayor Fred Eisenberger

The province will spend $1 billion and Metrolinx will build the system with input from the city. A final design is expected in early 2017.

But there's still disagreement among councillors. Some are ardent supporters and others have concerns. They're expected to vote in September to affirm the city's acceptance of the $1 billion project.

Future BLAST plans are as follows:

  • The first priority, beyond the current LRT plans, is to extend B line LRT to Eastgate Square. It would eventually extend to Fifty Road. The timeline for the latter is beyond the next 25 years.
  • The L line, which would run from Highway 6 to York Boulevard. Beyond 25 years.
  • The A line, which would go from the West Harbour GO station to the John C. Munro International Airport. The next 15 years.
  • The S line, which would run from Eastgate Square to the Ancaster business park. Beyond 25 years.
  • The T line, which would run from Centre Mall to the Lincoln Alexander Parkway/Mohawk Road interchange. Within 25 years.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger called the vote a reaffirmation of what the city has already said it wants. The current project was always part of a larger plan.

"It's a motion that says let's fulfill what we've already agreed to do."

The subcommittee also voted to modify two planned LRT stops. The Catharine Street stop will be moved to Mary Street, and the Victoria Avenue stop will be moved to Wellington Street.

City council will vote to ratify the decision on Aug. 12.