The City of Hamilton’s Director of Economic Development says developers who came to Hamilton in anticipation of the Hamilton B-Line Light Rail Transit project no longer believe the LRT will be constructed, and have stopped their projects.
“Until this Council has a final decision and the Provincial government is proceeding to fund again, nobody is believing that the LRT is coming”, Glen Norton told City Council’s Development Charges Stakeholders Committee on Wednesday night. (3:07:00 of the video replay)
“So those started to, have pretty much stopped. You know, projects that we started talking to people and said I’m coming here because of the LRT, they’ve pretty much stopped because they’re not convinced that it will happen.” Norton said.
Continuing, he closed by saying “Will it happen?, that’s up to you folks [Council] and the Premier of Ontario.”
Norton’s comments were made at Wednesday’s meeting of the Development Charges Stakeholders Sub-Committee in response to a question by Ward 14 City Councillor Terry Whitehead as to why Norton’s department was recommending a continuation of development charge exceptions in Downtown Hamilton.
Whitehead referred to the LRT as a “1-Billion Dollar incentive” for new development in Hamilton’s Downtown.
This morning, Norton told City Council’s General Issues Committee – who asked about his comments of last night – that some projects have “slowed down” as they await a final decision on the LRT.
During a media scrum following the Council meeting, Norton stated that he is not aware of any projects that have been cancelled, that while “some developers have stopped”, none have left Hamilton or cancelled their planned projects.
“They have stopped until they get certainty” that the LRT will be built. Norton explained that projects are still proceeding “For instance, you are seeing projects now being developed between Queen [Street] and Walnut [Street], along King”.
“Those, primarily, are not LRT dependent”, Norton stated.
“If you look beyond that, you look to the east and west end of the LRT, you are not seeing much of any development right now that is LRT created”.
Norton says there is an economic impact of LRT delays.
“However long it is delayed, that’s the amount of time we’ve lost in terms of at the far end, the economic uplift we would’ve had”, Norton stated. “Construction jobs on the front-end are not happening”.
Norton stated that the uncertainty could be resolved for developers if Ontario Premier Doug Ford “would the buying program back on track, that would assure a lot of people that it is going forward”.
Metrolinx stopped purchasing properties needed for LRT construction along the route in August 2018 after the new Ontario Progressive Conservative government frozen non-essential spending by Metrolinx.
Norton noted that the new Council has not yet voted on LRT, which is another uncertainty for developers.
Council is not presently scheduled to vote on LRT, and no anticipated date for the next vote is currently known.
Norton’s statement at Council Development Charges Sub-Committee on February 19, 2019:
At this point in time, the LRT issue, as far as anybody who is looking at investing tens of millions is far from settled. Until this Council has a final decision and the Provincial government is proceeding to fund again, nobody is believing that the LRT is coming. So those started to, have pretty much stopped. You know, projects that we started talking to people and said I’m coming here because of the LRT, they’ve pretty much stopped because they’re not convinced that it will happen.
Will it happen?, that’s up to you folks [Council] and the Premier of Ontario.
Full Audio of today’s media scrum with Norton.
Production Details v. 1.0.1 Last edited: February 20, 2019 Author: Joey Coleman Edit Record v. 1.0.0 original version v. 1.0.1 add clarity in final sentence by adding "and no anticipated date for the next vote is currently known."