Kitchener-Waterloo has been working away at a Rapid Transit plan since 2004, almost entirely out of the Toronto media spotlight, including mine. (A large amount of background detail can be found in the “Reports” section.)
Earlier this week, on June 24, Waterloo Regional Council approved the line which will be built initially with LRT in the north (KW) end, and BRT to the south in Cambridge. The first big surprise came Friday in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record who reported that both Ottawa and Queen’s Park were planning to fund the project. News of this reached me while Toronto Council was wrangling over funding for the purchase of new streetcars.
No sooner had Waterloo approved the LRT line, but local Cambridge MP Gary Goodyear announced that Ottawa would contribute $160-million to the project whose total estimated cost is $790-million. This took Regional Chair Ken Seiling completely by surprise. Support also came from Kitchener MP Stephen Woodworth who pointed out that this money will come from the “Build Canada Fund”, not the “Stimulus Fund” and therefore the project is not constrained by the latter’s March 2011 cutoff.
Meanwhile, the Liberal MPP for Kitchener, John Milloy, announced that Queen’s Park will provide two-thirds funding for this project. If you do the math, this leaves Waterloo Region with a comparatively small cost, roughly 1/6 of the total. The project also has support from local Conservative MPP Elizabeth Witmer. Bipartisan enthusiasm for transit is a refreshing change from Toronto where transit projects are used to score political points by the right wing of Council. Continue reading