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'I find that problematic': Cambridge council concerned with impact of ION expansion


The future of ION light rail transit was up for discussion at regional council on Wedneday, with plans to expand the LRT into Cambridge.

In order to meet some of those changes, the city is forming a secondary plan to support intensification along what it calls the Hespeler Road corridor.

The region’s plan proposes a rail line through the intersection of Hespeler Road and Pinebush Road. It could reduce Hespeler Road’s nine lanes to only two lanes of traffic on either side.

At a meeting on May 16, Cambridge Mayor Jan Liggett expressed concerns about a possible lane reduction.

The proposal also includes a new local road running parallel to Hespeler Road, connecting Pinebush to the Dumfries Conservation Area, along with a multi-use trail.

An artist rendering of what Hespeler Road in Cambridge would look like with dedicated ION light rail train tracks. (City of Cambridge)

“As backed up as our traffic is right now, we’ve got the worst backup in the entire region in this city. I find that problematic,” Liggett said at the meeting.

City planning says the goal of the plan is to create smaller block 15-minute communities along the transit line in an effort to meet a rate of 160 persons and jobs per hectare.

They don’t know if the lanes will be reduced, but infrastructure will need to be built to realize the changes.

“We’re not trying to do super blocks like the size of what they are now,” Lisa Prime, chief planner for the City of Cambridge said in the May 16. “We’re breaking those down into smaller community blocks, adding local roads, adding parks and infrastructure and creating really neighbourhoods. These are high-density neighbourhoods of mixed use.”

Cambridge staff will present a recommendation for the plan for the corridor at a later meeting.

The region has the ultimate say on what happens to the road.

Residents who use Hespeler Road daily said reducing lanes could be a problem.

"There would be pros and cons. I think it would be good for the people yeah, and also it would definitely bring in a lot of traffic. But, there's also lots of ways of getting around, like Franklin Boulevard, Pinebush Road up here," said resident Camilla Aechtner.

The Region of Waterloo's route endorsed in 2019 to bring the ION light rail train into Galt. (City of Cambridge)

Samuel Nicolas, a Galt resident, noted Hespeler Road sees heavy traffic, especially during rush hour.

“That would be a challenge for us motorists because Hespeler, as much as it’s a busy highway, oh man, during rush hour, it’s just traffic,” he said.

Adding: “If they will find more ways to add lanes and then have this LRT then it’s much better.”


During a special council meeting on Wednesday afternoon, different options for how far the line will go, were discussed.

The options include: ending at Pinebush, at the Delta Station or the original council-endorsed full-length plan into downtown Cambridge.

Liggett said downtown is the wrong route to take. It would cost nearly $4.5 billion to put it downtown and nearly $3 billion to put it on Pinebush.

“I have grave concerns. I think that there was an error made many years ago over the decision of where the line should go. Twenty years ago I don’t think it was taken into consideration that our major growth area isn’t downtown, our major growth area is down Dundas Street.” Top Stories


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