The Harper government has an ultimatum for the cities of Hamilton and Burlington: take the Burlington Canal Lift Bridge or it will be sold.
In a 5:31pm Friday news release, the Harper government announced a new program called the “Ports Asset Transfer Program” which will sell Transport Canada-owned port facilities to the private sector if provinces or municipalities don’t agree to take responsibility for facilities the federal government no longer wishes to maintain.
Hamilton-Burlington Lift Bridge on the Block
On the block is the Hamilton-Burlington Lift Bridge, officially called the Burlington Canal Lift Bridge.
Lisa Raitt’s, Minister of Transport, news release backgrounder states municipalities will have a 60-day period this summer to decide to purchase the Lift Bridge from the federal government.
If Hamilton and Burlington decide to not purchase the bridge (or the province for them), Transport Canada will offer the bridge for sale to the Hamilton Port Authority and the private sector.
On Tuesday (April 21), Burlington and Hamilton Council’s joint Greater Bay Area Committee met. One of the agenda items was the Lift Bridge negotiations.
Hamilton City Manager Chris Murray said communication was ongoing with the Federal government, and that both City Managers were awaiting additional financial information from the federal government before providing recommendations to the respective City Councils.
Murray made no statement about potential privatization or a forthcoming ultimatum.
He did state that he expected to have more information from the Federal government shortly and that a report would be forthcoming to Council.
Expect this issue to quickly be added to the next City Council General Issues Committee meeting on May 6th.
If the Federal government force the sale of the lift bridge and the province won’t help with the costs (which I doubt that they will). The city and port authority will be stuck with the tab for maintaining and operating it. I think inevitably that it will end up a toll bridge. Which might be the best option.