A new Angus Reid poll has found that there is majority support for an updated transit system in Waterloo Region, one that includes LRT, but there is still division when it comes to cost.

Seventy-three per cent of respondents agreed the community needs an updated transit system, and 58 per cent believe it would be better if it includes light rail transit (LRT).

Alison de Muy is a spokesperson for Machteld Faas Xander, the public relations firm that commissioned the poll.

She says "This poll, unlike the other scientific polls that were created, asked specifically what option people would like, and the majority, two-thirds, preferred options that included LRT, so LRT alone or LRT plus rapid buses."

When it comes to cost though, residents were almost evenly split on whether they think the cost of LRT is too high.

The online survey polled 456 people in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge and has a margin of error of 4.6 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

The poll was reportedly paid for by a group interested in public transit, though de Muy will only say "It was a group of interested individuals, business and organizations locally."

What's involved in a possible referendum?

While the second poll didn't address the issue of a referendum, the results come a day after Kitchener City Council voted in favour of a referendum on rapid transit.

That vote comes despite the fact that, according to Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr, "You may not like it, or council may not like it but there is no mechanism for this council to direct the mayor in any particular way [at regional council]."

According to the Municipal Elections Act, regional staff needs to consider three things when it comes to a referendum:

  • they do have the jurisdiction to call one
  • the question must be clear, concise and neutral
  • the question must be answered with a yes or no

As for the cost of going back to the polls, Waterloo Regional Council Clerk Kris Fletcher says "Around a million dollars was the total election cost that our municipalities had for the last municipal election."

Depending on the type of ballot, paper or electronic, that would slightly change the cost.

In terms of timing, with all the procedures, meetings and possible appeals involved, it would be at least six months before an actual referendum could be held.

Even at that point, without at least 50 per cent voter turnout, the referendum would not be binding. The last municipal election saw just 32 per cent turnout.