Partners in the Innovation Supercluster consortium – including the Mayors of Kitchener, Waterloo, and Guelph and the Chair of Waterloo Region – are pleased that two-way, all-day GO train service is part of the provincial budget that was reintroduced yesterday.
The Ontario government included the initiative in the budget it tabled on May 1, but that budget was not passed by the Legislative Assembly before it was dissolved for a general election.
“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 Innovation Supercluster consortium developed a business case that outlined how increased GO train service will increase the connectivity of the regional economies of Waterloo Region/Guelph and the Greater Toronto Area, and drive the attraction of talent, investment, and innovative companies to the local region. 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.
“I am pleased that the significant advocacy of local municipalities, along with our private sector partners, has been successful. The Province recognizes how transformational this opportunity is, and their commitment is solid,” said Guelph Mayor Karen Farbridge.
The re-introduced Ontario budget confirms the Province’s planned improvements to GO’s Kitchener line to prepare for full-day, two-way train service. These include:
· More trips: by the end of 2016, Metrolinx will double current service frequency between Kitchener and Toronto, 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.
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.
“I welcome Premier Wynne’s comments that the Province will work closely with municipal partners to deliver on its transit commitments in ways that make sense for local communities,” said Waterloo Mayor Brenda Halloran. “I’m glad that the Province has not only embraced the vision put forward by our consortium, but pledged to implement it in a collaborative way.”
“This ongoing commitment by the Province reflects a major advance in the Region’s efforts to provide increased GO rail transit to the Region of Waterloo,” added Regional Chair Ken Seiling.
Iain Klugman, CEO of Communitech, noted that attracting top talent in this area has always been competitive. “The number one barrier to tech company growth is attracting and retaining talent,” Klugman said. “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 latent they need.”
The business case, “Innovative Regional Economies and Strategic Infrastructure: the business case for Two-Way Urban Commuter Rail on the CN North Mainline,” outlines the economic imperative and opportunities along the Toronto to Kitchener rail corridor which will help the province and our communities compete for global talent and innovative companies.
The joint request was that a 10-year capital allocation for rail infrastructure be established by the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario to support full two-way GO Train service on the Kitchener Line (CN North Mainline) in the 2014 federal and provincial capital budgets.
The business case contains cost-savings analysis, maps, ridership estimates and development potential organized in six sections:
· Ontario’s economic growth opportunity
· Building an innovation supercluster
· Innovative cities in the Waterloo region to Toronto corridor
· The geography of innovation
· Proposed two-way GO Train service
· Recommendations and conclusion
· There are 30,000 local tech workers, 34% commute from Toronto/GTA
· There will be an additional 37,000 tech and creative workers in the area by 2031
· 32,000 trips are made daily each way between Waterloo Region and Guelph·
There are 11 million square feet of potential residential growth in transit station areas·
There is $4 billion construction potential in urban growth centres/station areas·
Initial prediction of ridership fares total $5.25 million with net operating costs of $750,000