This coming Monday, July 10th will mark an important milestone – two months will have passed since Brampton City Council directed staff to get more information on the options available for the Main Street LRT Extension, including on funding opportunities. Given a six month window, only four months remain for staff to report back (November 10th – 4 months from Monday) to help council make a decision on which option to send to the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP).
To invoke a metaphor: the clock is ticking. The Brampton Board of Trade believes that the LRT Extension is critical for the long-term economic development of our city, and particularly downtown revitalization. We have been steadfast champions of the project. And while we will proudly support either option (surface or partially tunneled), we believe the best option is the one that will get built soonest.
That’s why we have recommended that Council obtain a clear funding commitment from the provincial and federal governments before deciding which option to move to the TPAP process. If the option first put to TPAP fails to receive funding then time consuming and duplicative work will be required to get the other option through another TPAP.
On May 24th, we sent correspondence to federal Minister of Infrastructure & Communities Domenic LeBlanc, as well as a letter to provincial Minister of Infrastructure Kinga Surma, requesting their support in the form of a clear funding commitment that will allow the project to move forward with certainty.
There have been some signs of when new information could be made available. In late May, Prime Minister Trudeau told the Federal of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) to expect the next long-term infrastructure fund to be unveiled in the fall and that money from it would be closely tied to housing, a criteria that makes sense for the LRT given the significant development potential along its corridor. On June 19th, Minister Surma wrote to Minister LeBlanc asking that the new fund include at least $10 billion/year and that Ontario receive adequate funding from it.
These are encouraging signs that new information could be forthcoming in the next few months that will allow Council to make a decision based on knowing which alignment is likeliest to be promptly funded. Until then, the clock continues to tick.