Councillors nix request for Bay Street LRT stop
Ferguson fears ‘scope creep’ (surprise changes) will run out of control
A majority of city councillors are not on board with an extra LRT stop at Bay Street.
The city’s chamber of commerce pitched adding a stop at Bay Street to the $1-billion planned light rail transit line late last year on behalf of a group of downtown businesses, developers and institutions.
The idea was endorsed by the city’s LRT subcommittee made up of councillors and community stakeholders — but a majority of councillors Wednesday voted against asking project lead Metrolinx to consider the late add.
“I will not support any further scope creep that will just run out of control,” said Coun. Lloyd Ferguson, a LRT supporter who has expressed frustration about surprise project changes like the province’s recent pledge to swap a James Street spur for rapid bus service.
Coun. Chad Collins, who does not support the project, questioned whether a Bay Street stop — on top of another expected new stop at Gage Park — would make the light rail system slower than the existing B-line bus service.
City LRT point person Paul Johnson said a Bay Street stop would add 50 seconds to the end-to-end run time from McMaster University to the Queenston traffic circle. The preliminary route made public last year had 13 stops. Adding platforms at Gage and Bay would raise the total to 15.
With or without the stop, Johnson said the travel time for LRT would be “similar” to that of the existing express buses on the Main-King corridor, but added the separated light rail line would not encounter the periodic traffic jams that sometimes slow HSR buses.
The vote capped an acrimonious debate about various aspects of the city’s rapid transit plan Wednesday that included a separate decision to put off an information update about the new provincial bus rapid transit plan for the A-line.
Later, councillors voted to hold regular dedicated meetings for project updates outside of the existing LRT subcommittee, with chair Coun. Maria Pearson arguing the topic is “hijacking” other city business.
Coun. Sam Merulla announced his intention to bring forward a motion asking Metrolinx to estimate the cost to the city if council were to abandon the project.
Last October, council was told as much as $70 million had been spent on the project and Mayor Fred Eisenberger warned taxpayers could be on the hook to cover a portion of those costs if LRT didn’t go ahead.