Hamilton

Former MP Tony Valeri will chair the Hamilton transportation task force

A union rep, a retired journalist and a former Liberal MP are among the members of a new Hamilton transportation task force that will decide how to spend $1 billion.

Other members include a union rep, a retired journalist and a McMaster associate professor of engineering

Tony Valeri, shown in a 2004 archive photo, is the new chair of the Hamilton transportation task force. (Canadian Press)

A union rep, a retired journalist and a former Liberal MP are among the members of a new Hamilton transportation task force that will decide how to spend $1 billion.

Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney announced the five-member task force Thursday. She struck the task force after the province cancelled Hamilton's planned light-rail transit (LRT) system, which Ontario pledged $1 billion to build.

Instead, Mulroney said, the task force will recommend how to spend the $1 billion in Hamilton. Options include widening highways, bus rapid transit or even a revived LRT project. 

The task force will decide by the end of February. Here's a list of its members:

Tony Valeri (chair): Valeri is vice president of corporate affairs at ArcelorMittal Dofasco. He is also a former Liberal MP who was a federal minister of transport in Paul Martin's government. 

Richard Brennan: Brennan is a retired journalist turned communications consultant who covered Queen's Park and Parliament Hill for the Toronto Star.

Anthony Primerano: He is director of government relations with the Labourers International Union of North America (LiUNA).

Saiedeh Razavi: She is director of the McMaster Institute for Transportation and Logistics and an associate professor at the Department of Civil Engineering, as well as chair in heavy construction at McMaster.

Janette Smith: Smith is Hamilton's city manager. 

Saiedeh Razavi is director of the McMaster Institute for Transportation and Logistics. (McMaster University)

The task force "will play a vital role in helping our government deliver $1 billion in transportation infrastructure investments in the City of Hamilton," Mulroney said in a media release.

In that same release, Valeri said he's "getting down to work on the possibilities for mass transit and transportation infrastructure more generally in our great city."

"I am committed to stewarding a process that will objectively identify the best and most realistic options for Hamilton." 

Mulroney said she cancelled LRT after the province hired a third party consultant to do cost estimates, and that consultant found the system would cost more than anticipated. Mayor Fred Eisenberger, a staunch LRT supporter, has said he thinks those numbers are inflated.

Hamilton city manager Janette Smith will sit on the task force. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Eisenberger said this week that he's still not happy about the task force. He won an election against a competitor who made LRT a main campaign issue, he said. So residents have spoken.

In a statement Thursday, Eisenberger said the province "is known for appointing task forces and advisory panels to study and provide advice on complex matters. In this instance, they have sought unelected individuals to advise the province on what the best investment would be for transit, transportation and future development of our city."

Eisenberger said the city will support the task force's work, but he doesn't like how this unfolded. 

"I will continue to object to the premier's inequitable treatment of Hamilton," he said.

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