Wynne hoping for a 'final answer' from Hamilton on LRT

The premier says she's open to working with Hamilton once it's made its decision, but "I really want to put this to bed."

Wynne wants Hamilton to put the question "to bed"

Kathleen Wynne spoke with tenants of the Innovation Park and other businesspeople after her speech in Hamilton on Tuesday. (Kelly Bennett/CBC)

Premier Kathleen Wynne says she's "very surprised" to see Hamilton city council debating whether it wants light rail transit (LRT) again. She thought the conversation was over.

Wynne told reporters on Tuesday that rapid transit discussion has been going on for years in Hamilton. She thought the decision to pursue LRT had already been made.

"We're going to let – once again – Hamilton council have this conversation," Wynne told reporters during a stop at Toronto Western Hospital. "I honestly thought the conversation was done."

It's never been LRT or nothing. I really want to hear what council's decision is. I really want to put this to bed.- Premier Kathleen Wynne

Last May, Wynne announced the province would spend $1 billion to build LRT in Hamilton. Metrolinx is building the system with input from the city.

B-line LRT will go from McMaster University to the Queenston traffic circle. A-line LRT will run down James Street North from King Street East to the West Harbour GO station – or the waterfront, budget permitting. Work has started on the project, and construction would start in 2019.

The provincial commitment, Metrolinx says, will pay the full capital cost of the system.

But lately, some Hamilton councillors have expressed doubts over LRT, citing the impact of the five-year construction on business, among other fears. On June 15, they'll vote to on whether to reaffirm their commitment to accept $1 billion for the project from the province.

City council held public consultation sessions as far back as 2007, and OK'd a preliminary design of 30 per cent of the system. In 2013, it approved a plan called Rapid Ready, which recommended eventual LRT.

A list from the city clerk's office shows that all told, city council has voted on LRT dozens of times.

Wynne said Tuesday that she was "very surprised when I heard it was being revisited.

"My hope would be that they'll be able to go through this process and we'll have a final answer sooner rather than later."

Wynne says if the city decided on bus rapid transit (BRT), or a BRT/LRT hybrid, the province would consider that. But it would have to see.

"We're open to working with the city once they've made their decision," she said.

"It's never been LRT or nothing. I really want to hear what council's decision is. I really want to put this to bed."

samantha.craggs@cbc.ca | @SamCraggsCBC

A list of the times Hamilton city councillors have voted on LRT


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