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LRT project $50M over budget, but Region says taxpayers won't pay more

Last Updated Dec 9, 2017 at 1:25 pm EDT

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The Region of Waterloo says total costs for the LRT will be $50-million more than originally expected.

The ION project budget is now sitting at $868-million — up from $818-million.

Tom Galloway is Chair of the Region of Waterloo’s Planning and Works Committee.

He says the increase mainly comes from vehicle delivery delays.

“There are additional costs as some lines went over budget, but particularly the utility costs, relocations and Bombardier delays have cost a tremendous amount of money.”

Galloway says the good news is, taxpayers won’t be affected.

“We have this covered, and it won’t cause any additional property taxes. We have $25-million coming from the province, and we will borrow another $25-million to cover this. We’re hoping to get some of that money back from Bombardier as well, although that could take some time. We also have additional revenues that will allow us to support this increase, without having to add to property taxes.”

Galloway adds that this latest increase was to be expected.

“We kind of expected this, as we went in with a very thin contingency. We did that for two purposes — to hit that $818-million number, but we also wanted to make sure staff and the contractor didn’t think they had a lot of contingency to deal with — as in our experience, contingency tends to get spent.”

Galloway says at this point, the LRT project budget shouldn’t increase any further.

“We have a contingency fund in this $50-million budget, which will deal with expected delays, and everything with GrandLinq is pretty much wrapped up now. Metrolinx has also given us $45-million for the grade separation, so although it doesn’t go towards the project, we’ll have no new net borrowing for the Region as a result of the project.”

There was some other LRT news this week, as our third train finally arrived in the region.

“It’s been a long haul, and it’s not done yet. The trains are starting to arrive, and there should be another one in a few weeks, and supposedly one will come every few weeks after that. The trains are basically assembled, except for the last four.”