Waterloo got provincial funding for LRT!
All we need are the feds now. (for more info on the project: http://transitea.region.waterloo.on.ca/
) From Today's Waterloo Region Record:
Province promises millions for region's rapid-transit system
(Mar 23, 2007)
Ontario promised to pour millions of dollars into Waterloo Region's proposed rapid-transit system yesterday.
The commitment came in the provincial government's latest budget: when the region is ready to build, the province will cover one third of the first phase of the project -- the $300-million link between Kitchener and Waterloo.
"What we desperately needed was a firm commitment that they were going to be there for us when we needed them," said Waterloo Region Chair Ken Seiling.
"For me, personally, it was a validation by the province that this is a project they think is important."
The money won't be required for a few years, Seiling said.
Meanwhile, technical studies and an environmental assessment are underway to come up with a recommended system made up of buses or light rail.
The region could start working on financing the project by the fall, Seiling said.
What's missing is a commitment from the federal government.
"This is obviously a signal to the feds that we're anxious for them to come to the table," Kitchener Centre MPP John Milloy said.
"We've committed to our third and my understanding is the only way the project could go forward is if the federal government came forward with its third."
Yesterday's provincial budget included another $6.5 million to the region for public-transit infrastructure, and $11 million for affordable housing.
Cambridge Mayor Doug Craig took this as a good sign.
"The very fact that we've gotten some money from the Ontario government is a positive change," he said. "They finally understand there's light outside the GTA."
Craig was, however, hoping for new money for a promised expansion of Cambridge Memorial Hospital.
The budget included about $5 million for 25 citizenship-and-cultural centres to benefit ethnic groups across the province. Kitchener Coun. Berry Vrbanovic hopes they will help the region with new Canadians who settle here.
The province also pledged to overhaul the property-assessment system by replacing yearly reassessments with increases phased in over four years, starting in 2009.
That's good news in Waterloo, where some homeowners have seen their property taxes skyrocket because of reassessments, said city Coun. Jan d'Ailly.
"We're certainly looking forward to the whole thing being revamped," he said.
But the provincial plan doesn't go far enough, said Allan Hunt, a realtor whose assessment has increased nearly 50 per cent on his Waterloo home in 10 years.
"I don't understand why they have to phase it upward all the time," he said. "If situations occur like inflation, there's no reason to raise it at all."
Other budget highlights for Waterloo Region
$11.3 million for affordable housing.
$6.5 million for public transit infrastructure.
$1 million for the Catholic Family Counselling Centre's domestic violence program.
$10 million to expand broadband services across rural southern Ontario.
$350,000 to Christian Horizons, which helps people with developmental disabilities.
$250,000 for Reaching Our Outdoor Friends (ROOF) to expand its programs.
$4 million in funding for Children's Treatment Centres across Ontario, including KidsAbility.