Provincial budget leaves out funding details and timelines for commitment to restore Mississauga’s downtown LRT loop
Feature Image Alexis Wright/The Pointer

Provincial budget leaves out funding details and timelines for commitment to restore Mississauga’s downtown LRT loop

The Province’s 2024 budget signals a more permanent commitment to building the previously cancelled downtown Mississauga LRT loop, but key details are missing from the document.  

As part of the PC government’s 2024 spending, the Province laid out an investment of $67.5 billion over 10 years for public transit, including extending Mississauga’s LRT project by beginning the planning and design activities for the Mississauga loop, which Ford said was too expensive when he cut the original downtown configuration out of the plan in 2019 citing cost escalations for the massive light rail system that will transform public transportation in Canada’s seventh largest city. 

The Province confirmed in the budget document it has accepted an initial business case from transit agency Metrolinx and will begin planning and design activities — to ensure proposed extensions can progress as the construction of the line continues — to reintroduce the LRT to the entire Square One and City Hall precinct which is now once again part of the plan.


LRT construction along Hurontario Street. 

(Alexis Wright/The Pointer) 


“Ontario will also use measures introduced in the Building Transit Faster Act… to declare the Hazel McCallion Line extensions as priority transit projects.” 

What remains unclear is who will pay for the operation and maintenance of the system over a 30-year period. The provincial government signed a $4.6 billion contract in 2019 with transit consortium Mobolinx for the construction and total capital cost of the line, and most of the operating/maintenance costs, but Mississauga was told it would have to cover an additional billion dollars over the 30 years. City officials have been trying to get a commitment from Queen’s Park to upload this billion dollar charge, which would otherwise be borne by local property taxpayers and riders. 

Acknowledging it was the first time the loop extension for the downtown was included in the provincial budget, Acting Mayor Joe Horneck said it was “a positive sign for what is an important project for our City,” and that the City will “continue to work with the province to scope and design this project and look forward to funding details in future budgets.”

“The Downtown Loop has been one of Mississauga’s top transit and city-building priorities for many years,” Horneck told The Pointer. He said the “critical piece of infrastructure” supports Mississauga’s housing targets, specifically in the downtown, which is expected to more than double in population in the next 30 years as the city builds upward. The addition will also support the City of Mississauga’s climate change and transportation goals to become a more transit-oriented city, he said. 


The downtown loop, which was previously cancelled by the PC government in 2019, features three additional stations around the city centre.



“The business case for the Downtown Loop is very strong. With the construction of the Hazel McCallion Line and the Loop, residents in Mississauga and across the GTA will have more transit options available to them, and these projects will help to ease congestion and gridlock in our city.

“Regionally-connected rapid transit like the LRT and the Loop are essential to support Mississauga’s future growth and development. When complete, riders will be able to move seamlessly and affordably around Mississauga and across the GTA and beyond.”

Following Horneck’s sentiments, Councillor John Kovac also said he was generally satisfied by the budget, adding “the fact that they’re calling it a priority gives me some assurances right there. I’m hopeful that it will continue to remain exactly what they’ve called it… and the fact that they’ve called it a priority gives me some assurance that it will be taken as strongly as it should be.” 

As with the Province’s latest deal with Toronto, which included uploading of the maintenance costs of two highways and the operating costs of the Eglinton Crosstown and Finch LRTs, Mississauga also sought the same support from the Province in its pre-budget requests for the operation of the Hurontario LRT, which the City says will be a hard-to-manage cost for property taxpayers.

“Even if they decide to do that, I think it would come at a later date,” Kovac said on uploading operating costs to the Province. “I wouldn’t be surprised if more of this gets fleshed out once we’re restored with a new mayor. We’re down two [council members], that fact is not lost on me and I don’t think it should be discounted. I wouldn’t be surprised if more of these details get fleshed out by the summer, especially after the mayoral election.”

Contrary to Kovac’s optimism, while she was encouraged to see a commitment to the downtown loop and all-day, two-way service on the Milton GO Train line in the provincial budget, Councillor Dipika Damerla said she wants to see more details and that she was disappointed there was no mention of uploading all the operating costs of the Hurontario LRT to the Province. “Mississauga faces many of the same challenges as Toronto and is looking for fair treatment, especially when it comes to the province paying the operating costs of the Hurontario LRT.”

Councillor Stephen Dasko also said the PC government’s commitment to fund the downtown loop is great news for Mississauga, but the next step in negotiations will be to work toward uploading the full operating costs to Queen’s Park, as was recently seen in Toronto. Dasko said he looks forward to negotiating a new deal “that makes sense for all Mississaugans and Ontarians,” which he says will make for a more “streamlined and more cost effective approach that the province can provide.” 

“This (the downtown loop) is one of the most important components of transit in the city,” he explained. “It allows us to build out a more comprehensive and efficient downtown core that creates both a liveable and walkable downtown. The downtown loop will help create a dynamic world-class downtown community here in Mississauga.” 

The other council members did not respond ahead of publication.  

While the PCs’ promise to restore the loop is reason for optimism, Metrolinx has not confirmed whether the project, already two years behind, is on track. The original opening date for the Hurontario LRT was abandoned in 2022.  

A spokesperson from Metrolinx told The Pointer in January “significant progress” was made on the project in 2023 but the agency would not confirm whether it’s on track to meet the current 2024 target for significant completion and last week’s budget offered no further details.

The budget did not provide updated cost estimates for the loop or a timeline for when the work to design and construct it will be completed. It has been indicated that as the construction moves north along Hurontario from the lakeshore, the loop will be ready to be built as part of the overall project. The flyover section just north of the loop, which will carry the LRT over the 403 Highway, is largely completed.


A rendering of what the LRT flyover section will look like. 



The LRT project, currently designed to run along Hurontario from the Port Credit GO Station to the Brampton Gateway Terminal over an 18-kilometre route with 19 stops, would link major transit systems including GO Transit, ZUM, MiWay, the Mississauga Transitway and Brampton Transit along the way. The Hurontario-Main corridor was identified more than a decade ago as a top transit priority through Metrolinx’s Regional Transportation Plan as a key area for transit investment with significant growth forecast over the next twenty to thirty years. 

But while Ford and his PC government label the Hurontario LRT a "priority" project, they have not been consistent in their commitment and have failed to detail the exact funding for the previously cancelled downtown loop.

In 2019, the Premier argued the loop’s removal — which reportedly saved at least $200 million — was needed as cost estimates had increased significantly since the project was originally approved by the previous Liberal government in 2014.

In February 2022, the promise of the downtown loop returned during election year when Ford was campaigning. He assured former mayor Bonnie Crombie “[The downtown loop is] something we all want and we’ll make it happen eventually, sooner or later.” 

Funding for the downtown loop has been requested in the last several pre-budget submissions by the City — to Queen’s Park and Ottawa. 


A rendering of the Hurontario LRT just north of Burnhamthorpe Road.



City Hall says the loop is critical to supporting the development of Mississauga’s downtown core, which is anticipated to grow by 50,000 residents in the next couple of decades. “Mississauga is underserved by rapid transit compared to other GTA municipalities,” the City’s pre-budget submission to the Province highlighted. “Key transit projects are needed to support sustainable communities with the housing targets we have been given by the province.”

“Moving forward with the [Hurontario LRT] project inclusive of the downtown loop represents major steps towards transformational transit improvements that our residents and businesses within the downtown and along the Hurontario corridor are depending on.” 

City officials say the loop will connect over 72,000 residents to the high order transit network by 2051. Without it, much of the highest growth area in Mississauga would be cut off from the Hurontario LRT.

While the project’s current design would see 7.5 minutes between trains to Hurontario Street, City staff estimate the addition of the loop would allow for increased frequency of service. With the loop, there would only be 2.5 minutes between trains in the downtown circle and 5 minutes between trains on Hurontario Street. Additional trains would also be required with an increase from 16 an hour operating without the loop to 24 per hour with it. 

Details about funding for these changes have not been provided and the provincial budget document was sparse on information about the future design of the loop.

The budget included the commitment to expand service on the Milton GO Line by adding train trips and advancing the planning and design work for future two-way, all-day service — a pledge Horneck said “is a game-changer for Mississauga, which we will work with the province on, as needed, to see it become a reality.”



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Twitter: @mcpaigepeacock

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