LRT changes get Bal­lard’s bless­ing

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL -

Hamil­ton’s light rail tran­sit project, which has sparked pas­sion­ate sup­port and op­po­si­tion in the city, has re­ceived an­other green light from the prov­ince.

“Fan­tas­tic news!” tweeted Mayor Fred Eisen­berger Thurs­day. “We’ve re­ceived con­fir­ma­tion to­day that (On­tario en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter) Chris Bal­lard is al­low­ing LRT to pro­ceed as amended.”

In the spring, the city sub­mit­ted an en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment (EA) to the prov­ince to ap­prove an LRT route ex­tended by three kilo­me­tres to East­gate Square.

Project lead Metrolinx and the city up­dated de­sign doc­u­ments to re­flect an ad­di­tional three stops in the east end and elim­i­nated an ear­lier pro­posed tran­sit ter­mi­nal at the Queen­ston traf­fic cir­cle.

Eisen­berger told The Spec­ta­tor the EA approval is an­other mile­stone in the life of the project but chal­lenges re­main.

“One can ex­pect hic­cups along the way, and we’ve had them and over­come them, and we are still on our time sched­ule we set out early on.”

That sched­ule, he said, means hav­ing con­tracts signed in Septem­ber 2018.

“I won’t cel­e­brate un­til we have shov­els in the ground … But this (EA) was a big hur­dle that had to be crossed, and now we can get on with fi­nal­iz­ing de­sign is­sues and other de­tails and ac­qui­si­tion of prop­erty that needs to hap­pen.”

A let­ter from Bal­lard, which will be pre­sented to coun­cil­lors Wed­nes­day at the gen­eral is­sues com­mit­tee, says the Min­istry of the En­vi­ron­ment re­ceived 25 ob­jec­tions to the amended LRT plan, in­clud­ing con­cerns about the cost of the project, noise, pol­lu­tion, con­struc­tion and road con­ges­tion.

Bal­lard wrote he be­lieves the project won’t have a neg­a­tive im­pact on “mat­ters of pro­vin­cial im­por­tance re­lated to the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment … As such, you may now pro­ceed with changes to the Hamil­ton B-Line LRT project …”

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