Earlier this week Brampton City Council gave staff 6 months to meet with Metrolinx and the provincial government to inform its decision on feasibility of a tunnelled LRT, as well direction to engage the provincial and federal governments to inform Council’s funding options. The information they
obtain will help determine which of the two alignments under consideration is formally entered into the
Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP).
Brampton Board of Trade CEO Todd Letts spoke to the Committee of Council meeting where this direction was given. On behalf of its members, Letts urged Council to go one step further – to ensure that 6 more months of discussion result in a credible funding commitment.
“To what end? What is the end objective of these six more months of discussion?”, asked Letts
The Board of Trade’s position is clear: the LRT is urgent. The Board of Trade supports whichever option
can be approved and funded fastest. The many benefits are well documented, including an uptick in
property value along the corridor, an infusion of development and investment, the start of which is
already under way, the re-allocation of busses east/west to benefit commercial and industrial neighbourhoods throughout the city, and a place-making quality that expedites downtown revitalization.
As Council moves forward in charting a course to complete this project, urgency must be at the forefront
of their decision-making. It’s worth remembering that the Hazel McCallion LRT from Port Credit to
Steeles will be operational next year – and there was an option to build the Main Street segment along
the same timeline, which a previous council rejected.
One of the starkest contrasts between the two options is price tag. The alignment that is fully at surface
level is now estimated to cost just under $1 billion, while the alignment that is partially-tunnelled is
closer to $2.8 billion. These costs soared when staff completed 30% design work on each, and when the
eventual preferred option is taken to complete design it is a safe bet in these inflationary times that cost
figures will need to be revised upward again.
While staff recommendations were amended to re-iterate a previous direction to pursue funding
opportunities for the tunnel version, Council should remain sensitive to the importance of selecting a
preferred alignment that has a credible path to full funding.
The stakes here are high: there’s a real risk that if the partially-tunnelled alignment is brought to TPAP without a credible funding commitment, senior government funders will require the process to be started all over again, setting the project back by several years while an alternate, more financially viable
surface option is taken through the same process. The Brampton Board of Trade has strongly recommended that Council put its best business case forward. For the sake of our business community and the growth that this project’s success hinges on, the Board of Trade has urged Council to select a preferred alignment with a full-funding commitment attached.
The clock is ticking. Brampton Board of Trade will hold Council accountable during these six months and as such, the Board of Trade’s final recommendation to Council is that both Council and staff should be balanced in their assessments of the two options. Both options – surface or partially-tunnelled are big wins for Brampton. This week’s city staff report noted that both options are feasible, but also used a chart with colour-coding to make the surface option appear significantly inferior. Don’t be fooled. It’s not. Completing either option – surface or partially-tunnelled – is a big win for Brampton.
Many members of this council have indicated that they won’t say No to either option that’s funded – we welcome this open-minded approach. As such, the City’s funding strategy must not box the provincial and federal governments in, making it seem as though only the most expensive option is a ‘win’ for Brampton residents and businesses. Either option would be a huge success – and the
biggest ‘win’ would be to have the LRT extension operational, sooner rather than later.