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What’s in Ontario’s budget for Waterloo Region


Ontarians finally got a look Tuesday at the province’s 2024 budget.

The 200-page document focused on infrastructure and healthcare spending, but it also promised funding for projects in the Region of Waterloo.

CTV News reached out the mayors of Kitchener and Waterloo to get their reaction to the budget.

“I think from our perspective, one of the key ones is the investment in housing infrastructure, or housing-enabling infrastructure,” said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. “$1 billion in housing infrastructure funding was announced, as well as an extra $625 million in housing-enabling water systems fund. Both of these, we think, are important to help cities like us make the investments that are necessary to support more housing getting built faster.”

Another promise was the long-awaited Highway 7 project between Kitchener and Guelph. The budget highlighted the next steps, specifically the replacement of the Frederick Street Bridge. Requests for those proposals opened last month. As for when work on the new Highway 7 could actually start, no broader timeline was included.

The budget also mentioned improvements along the Kitchener Line to facilitate future two-way all-day GO Train service. One part of that will be the construction of a new train platform in Guelph this year.

Mayor Dorothy McCabe also weighed in, saying she’s like to see more GO buses in the City of Waterloo.

She was also happy to see $30 million allocated for fire services, some of which could help with the city’s new fire master plan.

The budget addressed one thing McCabe specifically highlighted in her meetings with the province – funding to improve sport and recreation facilities.

“I’m really pleased to see that the province has listened to, certainly the meetings and calls that I’ve had with the province around funding to improve sport and recreation facilities,” she said. “They’ve introduced $200 million for community sport and recreation infrastructure. We have plans, which we just passed in our budget just a few weeks ago, that we have at least three facilities that require significant upgrades. We will certainly be looking to tap into that for retrofits at RIM Park, Albert McCormick Community Centre and Moses Springer [Community Centre]. Really good news on that front for us.”

As for what was missed in the budget, McCabe said she would have liked to see more funding to address climate change. It’s an issue the mayor said she’ll continue to advocate for in the future.

Other highlights from the budget include:

  • $1.4 billion to help build schools in Kitchener, North Bay, Lincoln, Barrhaven and Brockville
  • Magna International is opening a new EV battery plant in Brampton and expanding its automotive facilities in Guelph, Windsor, Belleville, Newmarket and Penetanguishene (a $471 million investment and creating more than 1,000 jobs)
  • Mitsui High-tec is opening a new manufacturing facility in Brantford which will product motor cores for EVs (a $102.3 million investment creating 104 jobs)
  • $47.4 million to upgrade the aging ARC systems at the University of Waterloo (Graham Supercomputer) and University of Toronto (Niagara Supercomputer)
  • Rehabilitating Highway 403 between Highway 401 and West Quarter Townline Road (Brant and Oxford counties)
  • More supportive housing units in Guelph-Wellington: $9 million over three years Stonehenge Therapeutic Community and Guelph Community Health Centre for provide wraparound health care for 32 new clients and increase service levels for 76 high-needs supportive housing residents
  • Expanding the province’s Youth Wellness Hubs to Port Hope, Thunder Bay, Oxford County, Vaughan and Brampton
  • New Catholic elementary school in Kitchener (location not specified) for 527 students and 88 licensed child care spaces

- With reporting by Krista Simpson Top Stories

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