Feds to contribute $123M to London's transit projects
Published Friday, August 23, 2019 12:57PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, August 23, 2019 6:55PM EDT
The City of London now knows what its share will be of the cost for 10 transit projects that are being supported by the federal and provincial governments.
The federal government unveiled it will contribute $123 million on top of the province's $103.5-million investment, which was announced in June.
London North Centre MP Peter Fragiskatos made the announcement on Friday saying, "I'm pleased to announce more than $123 million to improve transit and transportation in this great city."
Mayor Ed Holder says, "This is a great deal for Londoners because we got the majority of the monies being supported by the provincial and federal governments."
The funding still leaves the city with a bill of $148 million for the projects, which includes three of the five Bus Rapid Transit routes as well as new expansion buses, intelligent traffic signals and other roadway and signage work.
When asked if Londoners should be upset that they're paying more than the provincial or federal governments, Holder says, "The answer is no, what we have here today is the largest infrastructure project in our history for things that needed to be done."
That means the city faces a shortfall of $48 million from what it originally planned to spend on the projects due to costs deemed ineligible for transit funding.
So how will city fill $48M shortfall?
The shortfall arose after it was discovered that city hall applied for some ineligible costs, specifically property acquisition along the BRT routes.
Fragiskatos explains, "The federal government will not be paying for land acquisition. That is a matter for the city council and city administration to look at and find a path forward on."
Now City Treasurer Anna Lisa Barbon must file a report to council on potential sources of funding to fill the gap before budget deliberations begin.
She says, "There's multiple ways that we can approach this that would absolutely minimize the impact to the taxpayer, so we will be looking at that now and bring a report forward in the fall."
Financial sources could include development charges on new construction, debt, reserve funds or property taxes.
Councillor Jesse Helmer says, "My preference would be that growth should pay for growth-related projects, so my first look would be at development charges."
And Holder doesn't believe the hit for Londoners will be significant.
"We are going to be working through our finance department and I think the impact on taxpayers of London is going to be very gentle."
City hall can also still submit future projects to tap into the remaining $80 million in the federal fund and $67 million in the provincial fund.