Province may fund bigger share of LRT extension to Cambridge: Wynne
Ontario’s 2015 budget contains a number of headline-grabbing measures, but one in particular has grabbed the attention of Waterloo Region’s politicians.
Included in the budget, which was released Thursday, is a pledge to fund an entire $1.6 billion light rail transit line connecting Brampton and Mississauga.
Waterloo Region’s light $818-million rail transit system, currently under construction, sees only one-third of its funding coming from the province – with the federal and regional governments paying the rest.
Tom Galloway, a regional councillor representing Kitchener, sees a discrepancy in the province’s treatment of the two projects.
“If 100 per cent funding is available for the GTA areas, it should also be available for us,” he told CTV News.
This year, the region is beginning an environmental assessment on the second phase of light rail transit, which will see trains run between Kitchener and Cambridge.
“It puts us in a position to be serious about asking for funding … for a project that is essentially shovel-ready at that point,” Galloway said.
In an interview with CTV News, Premier Kathleen Wynne indicated it was possible the province would pick up a larger share of the tab for that project.
“My expectation is that once there’s a proposal – we haven’t seen that proposal yet – then it would be eligible under the new, Moving Ontario Forward funding,” she said.
“We’ll work with the Waterloo Region on that.”
Waterloo Region may not be the only community hoping the Brampton-Mississauga LRT project will set a provincial precedent.
Galloway suggested that the City of Ottawa could be in the same position as it looks to move forward with new transit infrastructure.
“The two communities are really in the same situation,” he said.
Also included in the budget is further study of a high-speed express rail link along the Highway 401 corridor.
Not included is a specific plan to bring the “two-way, all-day” GO train service Wynne promised in advance of the 2014 provincial election.
Provincial officials have pledged to double the number of daily trips running between Waterloo Region and Toronto to eight by the end of 2016, and 10 by the end of 2020.
Wynne said a more robust offering remained a provincial commitment, and pledged to work with Canadian National and CP to make sure that we can provide full-day, two-way GO service to Kitchener-Waterloo.”