Back in the game: Seiling to resume talking about rapid transit
Published Tuesday, January 7, 2014 5:18PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 7, 2014 6:47PM EST
Nearly three years after he stopped taking part in discussions about rapid transit, Waterloo Region chair Ken Seiling plans to be back at the table for future talks.
Seiling has excused himself from council chambers during rapid transit talks since April 2011, when he declared a conflict of interest due to a child owning property near the then-proposed transit line.
Cambridge Mayor Doug Craig withdrew at the same time for the same reason.
But in August, Superior Court Justice D.A. Broad ruled that Craig’s conflict wasn’t significant enough to put him in a legal conflict of interest position.
Following that ruling, Seiling sought a legal opinion of his own – the results of which led him to announce Tuesday that he would return to discussions.
“I think clearly that I’m able to get back into the debate, and I’m looking forward to it,” he tells CTV News.
After Craig re-entered the debate, he quickly made his feelings known. Two days after Broad’s ruling, he called for a report on the cost of scrapping the light rail transit system planned for Kitchener and Waterloo.
While Seiling likewise isn’t shy about sharing his opinion on the transit plan, it doesn’t fall into line with Craig’s thoughts.
“I’ve always supported this project, because it’s our way of preserving our rural countryside, intensifying, stopping urban sprawl … making sure out community isn’t gridlocked the way the GTA is,” he says.
Seiling’s announcement leaves North Dumfries Mayor Rob Deutschmann as the lone regional councillor continuing to declare conflicts.
Deutschmann has said he will continue to do so because, unlike in Seiling and Craig’s cases where family members own property along the rapid transit route, Deutschmann himself is part-owner of a property along the downtown Kitchener portion of the route.
The project continues to moves forward.
The region has received bids from the three consortiums interested in designing, building and maintaining the light rail system, and is currently in the process of evaluating them.
The winning bidder is likely to be selected in February or March.
Bus rapid transit is expected to start moving through Cambridge later this year, with the $818-million light rail system in place by 2017.