Mayor Karen Farbridge and counterparts in Waterloo Region are praising the Ontario government for reaffirming its commitment to expanded GO train service for this area in the budget tabled Monday.
The mayors of the cities of Guelph, Kitchener and Waterloo, along with the chair of Waterloo Region, are partners in the Innovation Supercluster consortium.
The consortium has prepared, and submitted to the province, a business case supporting the need for better GO train service between Toronto and Kitchener along the CN North Mainline running through Guelph.
“I am pleased that the significant advocacy of local municipalities, along with our private sector partners, has been successful,” Farbridge said in the release. “The province recognizes how transformational this opportunity is, and their commitment is solid.”
“We are thrilled that Premier Wynne has been unwavering in her commitment to two-way, all-day GO trains,” said Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr. “This is a game changer for our area, and one that will pay huge economic and social dividends in the years ahead.”
The business case developed by the Innovation Supercluster consortium said increased GO train service would better connect the regional economies here with the Greater Toronto Area and “drive the attraction of talent, investment and innovative companies to the local region,” the release said.
“The business case demonstrates the majority of costs to build the system will be met from the potential $542 million in annual personal income taxes that will be generated from increased economic activity,” it said.
The reintroduced provincial budget is the same one tabled on May 1, whose defeat triggered the June 12 election won by the Liberals.
It confirms the province’s planned improvements to the local GO train line to prepare for full-day, two-way train service, the release said.
These improvements include:
• a doubling of the current GO train service frequency between Kitchener and Toronto through Guelph by the end of 2016, with two additional morning and afternoon peak period trips
• upgrades to the rail corridor leading to faster travel times
• building a new train layover facility.
“More GO train trips in the short term, and faster travel times and all-day, two-way service over the longer term, will make a significant impact on companies’ ability to access and retain the talent they need,” said Iain Klugman, CEO of Communitech, which describes itself as Waterloo Region’s hub for the commercialization of innovative technologies.
“The number one barrier to tech company growth is attracting and retaining talent,” Klugman said in the release.
Municipalities in the consortium will work with the province to implement expanded GO service successfully, “for example by advocating for expanded parking near local GO stations,” the release said.