By Doug Hallett
The expansion of GO Train service to Guelph two years ago is costing the city millions of dollars, and it will cost more as the train service expands in the future.
The provincial government always expected municipalities that benefited from the extension of GO Train infrastructure from Georgetown to Kitchener-Waterloo, through Guelph, to contribute towards the cost of the expansion, says a city staff report.
Now, Guelph’s share has been set at $3.15 million, which is to be paid in full to the province before March 31, 2016.
On Monday, council approved the execution of an agreement with Metrolinx-GO about this money. An initial $150,000 is going into a reserve fund in the city’s 2014 capital budget to help pay the city’s share of the $18-million GO expansion from Georgetown to K-W. “This contribution is a non-negotiable requirement as set by the province, but the contribution agreement does allow for flexibility in the payment terms,” the report says.
In addition to this initial contribution towards the expansion of the train service, Guelph “will be required to contribute towards future ongoing capital expansion costs of the GO train infrastructure,” it says. “At this time, the city has not been notified of any additional contributions that will be required.”
City officials think the terms of the agreement worked out with the province are reasonable, the report says. The agreement includes “favourable language to allow for negotiation on the timing of the payments” and says in-kind payment will be allowed.
“The city will be investigating the option of transferring surplus properties to Metrolinx as partial payment of this commitment,” the report says. Also, the province is willing to consider other in-kind services as payment, such as winter maintenance and ticket agent activities, to offset the $3.15 million that is owed.
Aside from this $3.15 million, the city also spent millions of dollars on the building of the Guelph Central Station transportation terminal on Carden Street, along with replacement of the Wyndham Street bridge and related roadwork. These costs were shared with the federal and provincial government under an infrastructure stimulus program.
Metrolinx, of which GO Transit is a subsidiary, worked with the city to try to share contractors to create efficiencies in the overlapping projects in the vicinity of the train station, the report says. Metrolinx initiated design changes to the Wyndham Street Bridge to allow expanded pedestrian platforms for GO Trains. It also built a pedestrian tunnel from the train station to the newly completed “Kiss and Ride” passenger pickup and drop-off facility south of the tracks.
Metrolinx has “substantially completed” Guelph infrastructure work. It should all be wrapped up by early 2014, if not sooner.
By Doug Hallett