The LRT Gravy Train… next stop, Brampton


[Brampton ratepayers Deserve Truth]

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Full Disclosure Owing from  Metrolinx about  LRT

Re use, refuse and recycle takes on a whole new context in the super secret world of Metrolinx.   Metrolinx is the uber-secret home of happy Liberal Party appointees that is pulling the strings on the Liberal Ontario government mega-billion dollar transit budget.  Over thirty of Metrolinx super-senior management group have wiggled their way along the trough and into the coveted “Sunshine List” and headed by CEO Bruce McCuaig who  made $363,403 last year. (For those keeping score, Mr. McCuaig’s salary was $154,000 mmore than the Premier’s salary).

All in all, Metrolinx is the happy home for Liberal appointees and has a payroll of over 2,600 employees.  But, today let’s discuss a matter equally as bad as pork-barreling.  Reminiscent of the infamous “gas-plant” scandal emerges the push to plop a Light rail Transit (LRT) project along Highway 10 linking the cities of Mississauga and Brampton.

Upon examination, this project is not a benign as advertised.  And, like the gas-plant scandal, this one has a nefarious hidden history.

If you cast your mind back to Metro-Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford’s fight for a subway in Scarborough, you will learn a great deal about the history of the Brampton/Mississauga LRT project and come to understand the extents in which people will explore/pursue to cover their own errors.

Beyond doubt, Hurontario Main Street Light Rail Transit project is the most divisive bit of local news that has occurred in a long time.  It has singularly split Brampton City Council into two camps.  Despite low rider forecasts for the planned route, by way of strong lobbying, this project has virtually taken over the agenda at Brampton City Hall since the New Year.

A fact check is in order.  Brampton homeowners are at risk of funding yet another gas-plant type Liberal cover-up.

Here is a bit of history on Metrolinx.  Metrolinx  is a mysterious and Omni-present clique of Liberal appointees operating transit matters at an (alleged) arm’s length from Queen’s Park.  Since the management of Metrolinx is/was handpicked and appointed by the Wynne/McGuinty Liberals, you can form your own conclusions.

What You Are Not Being Told

In late 2013, the City of Toronto decided to not proceed with a purposed Scarborough LRT line opting instead to move to a subway.  The LRT in Scarborough would have travelled about 7 km with an above ground Light Rail Transit system.  The supplier of the planned LRT cars was Bombardier who sought $77 million in cancellation fees for the 48 LRT cars that would no longer be needed in Scarborough.

Enter Finance Minister Charles Sousa (of gas plant shame) who stated that since Toronto has “extra-special” needs for affordable housing, he would offer the City of Toronto a special arrangement so that the original funding of the planned Scarborough LRT project would not vanish with the cancellation. In 2013, the province committed to funding a Scarborough extension with $1.48 billion, regardless of whether it was an LRT or subway. At the time, the federal government also committed $660 million in addition to its $1.48-billion share to build a subway.

Note: lots o flexibility for Metro Toronto versus arbitrary choices for Brampton.

Then comes the fly in the ointment.   Metro-Toronto (it seems) never formally approved the Scarborough LRT project that was being advocated by Metrolinx.  Recorded vote at Toronto’s City Council in 2013 showed that the City rejected the Scarborough LRT project by a vote of 24-20.  However,,,,,somewhere along the line a commitment had allegedly been made whereby Metrolinx placed an order with Bombardier (the builder of LRT rail stock) for  $770 million contract for 182 light-rail vehicles[i]

Further, Metrolinx then decided that rather than face a cancellation fee for the abandoned Scarborough LRT project that they would simply force a fit in Brampton and Mississauga.  Presuming that Peel residents would be much more gullible that the folks in Scarborough who had determined that LRT was a bad fit.  The comparative lengths of the rejected Scarborogh line and the proposed Hurontario line would appear to be the single reason that Metrolinx began to stalk Mississauga and Brampton as a quick fix for an incorrectly issued purchase order with Bombardier.

It is troubling that while still in the conceptualization stage in Scarborough, a procurement order of such scale ($770 million) would have seen light of day.  Moreover; where is competitive bidding in this process?    The matter is worsened by the fact that the Mexican supplier of part for Bombardier is plagued by quality problems.

An election took place in Brampton and (presto) we inherited a former Liberal cabinet minister as mayor.  For some bizarre reason, one of Sousa’s staff members decided to seek election on Brampton City Council. That move certainly would have helped newly elected Mayor Jeffreys into forcing this project down the throats of Brampton rate payers.

A few loose ends:

No one is willing to inform Brampton Home owners the full/complete on-going cost to them to accept Toronto’s cast offs and, instead have resorted to strong-arm tactics verging on bullying.

For those who have not being paying full attention to the LRT Scandal, here are a few of the ways that the Wynne government and/or Metrolinx has been attempting to force Toronto’s cast-off LRT into Peel.

An Active and Well Funded Propaganda Campaign:

The onslaught to force an LRT fit in Brampton and Mississauga began in April 2014 when Gil Penalosa, an immigrant from Columbia and self proclaimed “urban planner” held court for a presentation at Brampton’s Rose Theatre.  For those fortunate enough to miss Penalosa’s slick presentation, suffice to say that Mr. Penalosa’s vision lacked one key element ~ reality.  His dream world of a carless community is a rather “odd” fit for a community such as Brampton where a major employer (2,500 unionized jobs) involves automobile production.

A fact check on Mr. Penalosa’s participation revealed that he was funded by another “arm” of the Wynne/Liberal government.  Records show that Penalosa appeared in Brampton thanks to the largess of funding by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care[1].  It is troubling that the Ontario Health Ministry is the same outfit that callously ripped down Peel Memorial Hospital and then informed Brampton homeowners that they would have to contributed $60 Million towards the rebuilding of the sorely need full care facility in the heart of Brampton.  Apparently, there is cash available inside the Ministry of Health to fund Penalosa’s dog-and-pony show.

Incentives for Local LRT Advocates

It is difficult to rationalize BUT a very small group inside of Brampton has taken up the fight to attempt to force the LRT project into Brampton.  One has to ask the obvious question:  “what’s in it for them? Civic mindedness or personal gain?”.

Stories continue to persist that Metrolinx has offered to open a new branch office in Brampton.  Certainly the leaders of the noisy group owe Brampton full disclosure as to expense reimbursement and employment promises.

Gerrymandering of City Council

Gerrymandering implies attempts to establish political advantage in a jurisdiction (such as a city) by way of inserting partisan representatives into an elected body (such as a City Council).

It is MOST mysterious that on May 1st, 2014, former Wynne government cabinet minister, Linda Jeffreys made a formal announcement that she would seek election as Mayor of Brampton[2].  Are you noticing a convergence of key dates following the Toronto City Council vote?  Coincidence??? Perhaps.

While Jeffrey was preparing to seek election, one of Finance Minister, Charles Sousa’s staff at the Ministry of Finance, Martin Medeiros was busy applying for a leave of absence (from Sousa’s department) in order to also seek election on Brampton’s City Council.  Rumors continue to circulate that Medeiros resides in Mississauga and would have been ineligible to seek election in Brampton.

Medeiros and Jeffrey appear to be the staunchest advocates for the LRT.  It would be to Medeiros’s advantage to fully disclose his residence as of election date and clear the air in regards to nagging suspicions.   A quick internet check of the name: Martin Medeiros shows a residence in Mississauga.

It would seem to me that IF the Light Rail Transit project was as beneficial as being advertised, the project would sell on its own merit without all the intrigue.  Could it be that Metrolinx has learned (in Scarborough) that public will always prevails and that no amount of politicking can replace common sense?

Copyright ©  Thunderbird Rising 2015

 The above article is copyrighted.  You may use, copy or distribute this article conditional on attributing your source (Thunderbird Rising) and the author (Lloyd Fournier)

[1] Brampton Board of Trade Publication, April 03, 2014, by Peter VanSickle (http://www.bramptonbot.com/news-item/2162347-acclaimed-8-80-cities-urban)

[2] Brampton Guardian, “Linda Jeffrey launches mayoral campaign with promise to unite divided council”, Peter Criscione, May 01, 2014

[i]  Toronto Star, “City to pay millions for cancelled Scarborough LRT, but final cost kept secret”, Jennifer Pagliaro City Hall reporter, Published on Fri Jan 23 2015 (http://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/2015/01/23/city-to-pay-millions-for-cancelled-scarborough-lrt-but-final-cost-kept-secret.html)

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2 thoughts on “The LRT Gravy Train… next stop, Brampton”

  1. Reblogged this on thunderbird rising and commented:

    The response has been overwhelming. For anyone who missed this; here it is again – just for you. There are a number of underlying issues in addition to the LRT itself and I hope that officials look into each of those issues regardless of the LRT beign refused in Bramptonj.

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