Investigation by the Tri-Cities Transport Action Group (TriTAG) reveals that the planned 2010 budget for the Region of Waterloo is heavily skewed towards road expansion and makes minimal investments in transit, cycling, and pedestrian infrastructure.
“While the Region is budgeting $100 million for road infrastructure in 2010, little of that money is for sidewalks and bicycle lanes — and most of that expenditure is almost incidental”, said Tim Mollison, a TriTAG founding member. “Major Regional roads such as Franklin Boulevard, Ottawa Street, Fischer-Hallman Road, Coronation Boulevard, Westmount Road, King Street, and Hespeler Road are all still missing sidewalks. Of the Region’s proposed $100 million transportation budget, less than $1 million is planned for sidewalks, and out of a total expenditure of $2.2 million for sidewalks and bike lanes, only $300,000 is not part of an existing road project.”
According to a report by the Real Estate Investment Group, Waterloo Region is the best place in Ontario to invest in real estate. In an interview with CBC News, Don Campbell, head of the Real Estate Investment Group, cited the region’s Light Rail rapid transit plan as one of the reasons to invest in the area.
“You’re seeing [BlackBerry maker] RIM and seeing the high-tech industries still continue to grow and hire,” he said. “And at the same time, they’re revitalizing the downtown of the old cities of Cambridge and Kitchener and now they’re talking about [light rapid transit].”
The report credits Light Rail as a method to significantly improve property values, even when established before higher-density development begins.
“Accessibility is a critical determinant of residential land values, and the improved access between urban centres and residential neighbourhoods greatly improves the value of homes. This is even evident when light rail precedes development”
In a historic decision on June 24, Waterloo Regional Council overwhelmingly approved the visionary staff recommendation for a rapid transit line for the region. Regional staff have been working on the project for three and a half years, and recommended a staged implementation of light rail, with the initial stretch from north Waterloo to east Kitchener, and an upgraded iXpress-style bus route between east Kitchener and south Cambridge.
At that meeting and the previous public meeting on June 10, numerous residents and delegations spoke in front of Council, the majority speaking in favour of the plan. TriTAG thanks its supporters who spoke at Council.
The vote will allow the Regional staff to proceed with funding negotiations with the provincial and federal governments, which are expected to cover the vast majority of the costs of launching our rapid transit system. Construction is expected to begin in 2011/2012, with the light rail line operational in 2014.