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The cancellation comes only months after Ford said publicly that the project would go ahead and included it in the province’s budget. Bids were expected to be submitted by three groups competing to build the 14km line in spring 2020. About 40 employees will now lose their jobs.
Ford’s transportation minister, Ms Caroline Mulroney, announced the cancellation of the project in a statement, rather than at a planned press conference at Hamilton’s Sheraton hotel. The briefing was cancelled at the last minute due to “safety concerns,” according to Ford’s staff, after city councillors and transit activists had packed the briefing room when they learned about the cancellation through local media. Mulroney was whisked away with a police escort.
In a statement, Mulroney claimed the previous Liberal government’s $C 1bn ($US 761m) budget did not reflect the project’s actual cost. She said officials had not released a higher, $C 3bn estimate, and that she commissioned a third-party project review – also not released – that calculated the cost at $C 5.5bn. Mulroney also claimed the previous government had planned to require the City of Hamilton to cover $C 1bn in operating and maintenance costs. “It is frustrating news, but the stark fiscal reality is that the project will actually cost five times more than the previous government led us all to believe,” Mulroney said in her statement.
“This is a betrayal by the province to the City of Hamilton,” Hamilton’s mayor, Mr Fred Eisenberger, said, adding that other projects with growing price tags in Toronto and Mississauga were proceeding. “This will not only hurt Hamilton’s economy, but Ontario’s economy. The message to the world is that Ontario is an unreliable partner. Ontario is not a place where you can do business because of the Ford government. Their timing on this is just outrageous. If they were going to do this, they could have picked a better way.”
Mulroney says Ontario will provide the promised $C 1bn for Hamilton’s transport needs and pledged to form a task force to examine how the funds should be spent on projects “that can be delivered quickly and in a fiscally responsible manner.”
The post Ontario premier cancels Hamilton light rail project appeared first on International Railway Journal.
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