Mayor Matt Brown went to bat for London’s rapid transit dreams on Monday in Toronto.
The province’s Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs is looking for input on the 2016 budget, so Brown floated London’s $388-million dollar request that will fall under the “Moving Ontario Forward Program.”
The initiative has set aside $15-billion dollars to bolster public transit and other infrastructure projects outside of the GTA.
City staff have detailed four options ranging in price from $260-million to $1.2-billion, with London pledging to spend $125-million with hopes that the provincial and federal governments will fund the rest.
Speaking afterwards to AM980, Mayor Brown said he told the provincial committee that Council prefers the hybrid option of light rail and bus rapid transit.
“We had an opportunity to discuss how those 22 kilometres of new high-speed transit in London would change the way that we move across the community, but also change the way that we grow as a community,” said Brown. “I had an opportunity to also articulate just how fundamentally important a rapid transit system is for our London plan to ensure that we can move inward and upward as we grow over the next 20 years.”
Overall, the estimated capital cost of Shift is $900 million.
The cash London wants over the next 10 years makes up roughly 2.5 per cent of the funds the province has set aside for projects outside of the GTA.
London is the largest city in Canada without a Rapid Transit system.
“It’s important that we have these conversations, that we can articulate to both our provincial and federal partners that we are serious about this, that we have $125 million largely funded through our development charge to invest in this program,” said Brown.
The Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs is holding in-person sessions, telephone town halls, and online idea-sharing as part of 2016 budget preparations. The 2015 pre-budget consultations saw the government hear from more than 300,000 Ontarians.