City wish list tops $1 billion
Water, transit, roads key priorities for infrastructure cash
July 25, 2008
The Hamilton Spectator
Mayor Fred Eisenberger says a long-awaited federal-province infrastructure pact will speed local water, transit and road projects.
After a long battle, Canada and Ontario yesterday signed a framework agreement worth $9.3 billion over seven years to fix the province's aging roads, bridges and other hard infrastructure.
Of this, $6.2 billion is federal cash, and $3.1 billion is provincial matching funding for part of it.
Only a few priority projects were named: Northern Ontario highways, rural broadband Internet, Waterloo rapid transit and clean water in London.
A total of $880 million has already been committed from the $6.2 billion in federal cash, for the Spadina-York Subway, the Ottawa Congress Centre, London water projects, Cambridge and Burlington arts centres, and Peterborough commuter rail.
The rest of the $5.3 billion in federal funds is yet to be committed.
Eisenberger said Hamilton will wrest its fair share of the cash. Project costs will be split three ways, with federal, provincial and municipal governments, he expects.
"We've made the case on infrastructure for a long time," he said. "The federal government has said it has $33 billion (nationally) for it, but the frustration was that we couldn't get at it because there was no framework agreement."
Yesterday's agreement will fund projects to 2014. It was hailed as a way to create jobs, at a time when Ontario's auto and manufacturing sectors are suffering.
The mayor says it's too early to guess how much Hamilton will get.
Eisenberger said the fund has been controversial because Ottawa has announced funding of some specific projects, without provincial approval.
City finance chief Joe Rinaldo said Hamilton has a wish list of projects for which it would like to receive funding under the pact.
* Hamilton will spend $1 billion over the next four or five years on water and wastewater upgrades; the city wants $250 million of this to come from Toronto or Ottawa.
* $500 million is the possible price tag for a new rapid transit system being worked on by the regional transportation agency Metrolinx and city staff.
* $15 million in renovations to the Central Library and Hamilton Farmers' Market.
* $6 million to build a downtown bus terminal at Main and MacNab.
* $1 million to pedestrianize Gore Park after buses leave.
* $100 million in deferred repairs to roads and bridges.