Municipal advocacy

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Local advocacy

Kitchener city council advocates on behalf of the city on a number of issues, when appropriate, in conjunction with neighbouring municipalities. For example:

Two-way, all-day GO train service between Kitchener and Toronto
Ontario competes with the world's major innovation centres. Our economic potential is limited by inadequate transportation infrastructure beyond the greater Toronto area.  The Toronto-Waterloo Region Corridor is one of the top 20 startup ecosystems in the world, divided by a wall of congestion on the 401 highway. Yet these cities are no further apart than Silicon Valley's anchor cities, San Jose and San Francisco.

Open a pdf of the map of the Toronto - Waterloo Region and Silicon Valley comparison.

The key difference between these globally-significant startup clusters is Silicon Valley is supported by two-way commuter rail service. The Toronto-to-Waterloo Region corridor - the innovation supercluster - is not.

Read our Q & A section to learn more.

Download a PDF version of the two-way, all-day GO train service infographic. 

Read the two-way, all-day GO train service business case

 

Two-way, all-day GO train service advocacy newsroom
Two-way all-day GO train is an integral part of Ontario budget, say mayors (April 2015)

Brampton, ON - Two-way all-day GO rail service linking Toronto to Brampton-Guelph-Kitchener-Waterloo is an integral component of the 2015 Ontario budget and 10-year capital plan, say the mayors of these communities.

Today's provincial announcement of its increased investment to improve GO Transit service along all corridors is a significant step to connect people and improve the economy.

Canada's Innovation Supercluster - linking Toronto to Brampton-Guelph-Kitchener-Waterloo - is comparable to the world's largest innovation centre in California's Silicon Valley. There is strong support for this initiative from significant private sector innovators along the Toronto to Kitchener rail corridor. Opportunities along the corridor will help both the Province and these key Ontario communities better compete for global talent and innovative companies.

The Innovation Supercluster mayors recently met with Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure; and Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation to discuss their partnership and its benefits to Ontario.

A business case and supporting video were presented at these meetings, to show how connecting their regional economies by a streamlined, efficient transit mode supports key Provincial priorities of economic prosperity, quality of life, and environmental stewardship.

Ontario's 2015 budget will be released on April 23, 2015.Benefit Highlights

  • There are 30,000 local tech workers in Waterloo Region. 34 per cent commute from Toronto/GTA.

  • Building communities: $4 B in construction potential

  • Leverages recent $1.2 B investment in Union Pearson Express

  • Intensifying development activity at all three of Brampton's GO rail mobility hubs is expected to attract 37,900 new jobs and 105,400 new residents by 2041

  • Opportunity to connect 13,000 companies and attract 3,000 innovation start-ups

  • Potential for 40,000 new jobs in the innovation sector

  • $344 M saved in commuter and environmental costs

Links

Quotes 

  • "I am encouraged by the Province's recognition of the importance of two-way all-day GO rail service to the economic growth of the GTHA municipalities on this line. When communities work together we can achieve great things. Brampton looks forward to continued commitment in transit infrastructure by the federal and provincial governments." - Linda Jeffrey, Mayor - City of Brampton
  • "Efficient, affordable and reliable transportation options gives employers greater access to talented employees, gives individuals more choices of where to work, and provides families with improved work-life balance; all of which generates greater economic activity and healthier communities. A 2014 report by the cities of Guelph, Kitchener and Waterloo indicates that a technology ecosystem of 12,800 companies with over 205,000 employees could be created simply connecting Union Station, Pearson Airport, Brampton, Guelph and Kitchener." - Jaipaul Massey-Singh, Chair - Brampton Board of Trade
  • "I'm pleased that the Province has recognized the strong business case for two-way all-day GO train service and has taken positive steps to make it a reality. It's my hope that the Province will signal its full commitment as part of the 2015 Ontario budget." - Cam Guthrie, Mayor - City of Guelph
  • "Infrastructure that connects people to jobs is critical to the economic future of this province. Now is the time to purposefully build a system that enables companies to grow and enable innovation to thrive. With two-way all-day GO rail service, an integrated regional economy that spans from Toronto to Brampton-Guelph-Kitchener through Waterloo will create a globally competitive tech environment that is comparable to Silicon Valley, connecting 13,000 companies, attracting 3,000 startups and creating over 40,000 new jobs." - Kithio Mwanzia, President & CEO - Guelph Chamber of Commerce
  • "It's great to see the government continuing to move forward on improvements to urban commuter rail across Ontario. We've heard loud and clear on this from Kitchener and Waterloo's business leaders - we need the west-bound morning GO Train up and running by 2016. Every day, more than 10,000 workers are commuting from Toronto and the GTA into our community and companies are chartering private busses to address this. But this is not a sustainable model and the future prosperity of the entire corridor depends on two-way urban commuter rail." - Berry Vrbanovic, Mayor - City of Kitchener
  • "The City of Waterloo is delighted that Metrolinx will be consulting with municipalities outside the GTA about the potential to expand its mandate beyond the GTA." - Dave Jaworsky, Mayor - City of Waterloo
  • "Fast, efficient two-way all-day GO rail service is critical to employers' ability to attract and retain knowledge workers and ability to grow and expand operations. Moving people matters. Improved GO service is essential to our ability to compete globally." - John Baker, President and Chief Executive Officer - D2L 
Commitment by new mayors remains strong for two-way all-day GO trains (January 2015)

Kitchener, ON- The faces may be new but the commitment to two-way all-day GO train service remains the same. The new mayors of Kitchener, Waterloo, Guelph and the re-elected Chair of Waterloo Region re-confirmed their commitment to two-way all-day GO train service and are thrilled that the City of Brampton, under the leadership of new Mayor Linda Jeffrey, has joined the consortium advocating for improved and expanded GO train service.

"We are pleased to welcome Brampton and Mayor Jeffrey to our team," said Kitchener's Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. "The strength of our business case is the collaboration and commitment among our local governments and the private and not-for-profit sectors. Including Brampton more clearly emphasizes the importance and value of connecting regional economies."

"I am excited to add Brampton's voice and support to this critical infrastructure project and look forward to working with the consortium," stated Brampton's Mayor Linda Jeffrey, "Our 21st century economy needs 21st century transit and transportation solutions. The City of Brampton looks forward to working with the provincial government and our partners as we develop real and tangible transit and transportation solutions for the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA) region and beyond."

"Fast, efficient rail transit is critical for continuing to develop the economic potential of our communities," said Waterloo's Mayor Dave Jaworsky, "Investment in GO train services is key to helping local companies attract and retain talent to help them compete globally."

Partnering communities have come together in the pursuit of enhanced GO train service to increase the connectivity of their regional economies and to drive the attraction of talent, investment, and innovative companies, which the Innovation Supercluster Consortium details in their 2014 business case. The business case demonstrates that the majority of costs to build the system will be met from the potential $542 million in annual personal income taxes generated from increased economic activity. This business case will now be expanded to include information and data from Brampton.

"I'm encouraged that we will continue to work together to make it happen and want to send a strong message that despite changes in leadership, these communities continue to fully support this project," said Guelph's Mayor Cam Guthrie. "We're pleased to see the positive steps taken towards this goal by Metrolinx and the Province."

In September 2014 the province announced that it has purchased an additional 53 km of the rail corridor increasing its ownership of the corridor to 80 per cent. As well, plans are moving ahead in 2015 with the construction of a new GO bus and train layover station in Kitchener.

The July 2014 Ontario budget confirmed the province's planned improvements to GO's Kitchener line to prepare for full-day, two-way train service, which 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 in Kitchener.

Background

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

Quick facts

  • There are 30,000 local tech workers in Waterloo Region, 34 per cent commute from Toronto/GTA.
  • There will be an additional 37,000 tech and creative workers in Waterloo Region 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.
  • Intensifying development activity at all three of Brampton's GO rail mobility hubs (Mount Pleasant, Downtown Brampton and Bramalea) is expected to attract 37,900 new jobs and 105,400 new residents by 2041.
Staff is currently working on an update to the business case to include figures for Brampton and the impact their involvement has on the innovation supercluster. The partnership looks forward to sharing that update in the coming weeks.
Kitchener responds to Ontario's high-speed rail announcement (December 2014)

Kitchener, ON - Friday the province announced it is moving forward with its plan for high-speed rail to connect Windsor, London, Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto by launching an environmental assessment (EA). The EA process will identify the most appropriate route, examine state-of-the-art transportation technology options and include an environmental impact evaluation.

"We are very excited about this news," said Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. "This clearly demonstrates the province's commitment to 21st century transit and transportation planning and strengthens their pledge to implement full day, all way two way GO transit for Kitchener, Waterloo, Guelph to Toronto."

The city looks forward to working with neighbouring municipalities and the provincial government on the EA process as more details emerge. While two-way, all day GO service is a priority for Kitchener and neighbouring municipalities, staff sees connections and opportunities for the two projects to support each other delivering commuter services for many communities within the Toronto-Windsor corridor.

"Improved rail transit - whether GO or high-speed - has the ability to significantly boost not only the region's tech sector - which employs more than 33,000 people and is valued at $30 billion - but also our other key sectors including manufacturing, insurance, business and financial services," said Rod Regier, the city's executive director of economic development.

Learn more about the call for expanded GO train service by reading the province's official release.

Improved commuter rail service discussions with province (August 2014)

London, ON - Reinforcing the need for improved commuter rail service and laying the foundation for a High Speed Rail corridor, Kitchener mayor Carl Zehr, London mayor Joni Baechler and Waterloo councillor Karen Scian met with the Hon. Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation today at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO)'s annual general meeting and conference in London.

"This was a good opportunity to emphasize the importance of expanded commuter rail for our communities and to urge the government to complete the environmental assessment needed for high speed rail," stated Mayor Zehr.

Enhancing commuter rail service has been a focus for both municipal and provincial governments. In addition to high speed rail, the cities are pleased to work with the province to expand GO train service which will increase the connectivity between our regional economies and the Greater Toronto Area and drive the attraction of talent, investment, and innovative companies.  

The July 2014 provincial budget reaffirmed the provincial commitment to building two-way, all-day GO train service between Kitchener and Toronto, a crucial precursor to implementing high speed rail.  

And, in April 2014, the province committed to finalizing the business case and environmental assessment for a high speed rail line that would connect London, Kitchener-Waterloo and Pearson International Airport and Downtown Toronto as a further move to improve commuter travel options, reduce travel times and support economic development activities.  Coun. Scian noted that these commitments are welcome news to all three cities.

"We are pleased with the province's commitment to building modern transportation and transit infrastructure," said Coun. Scian. "We appreciate these significant provincial investments, and know that the benefit to our communities will be significant."

Mayor Baecheler also noted that the province's commitment to improving transportation and transit infrastructure is important, and substantial. 

"We are pleased that the province has committed to explore high speed rail.  This would be a game-changer in London and significantly boost our economy," Mayor Baechler said. "Our communities look forward to working with the province as these plans are developed."

GO service re-confirmed for Guelph/K-W corridor (July 2014)

Guelph, ON - 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 talent they need."

Background

Read the Innovation Supercluster consortium's business case

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

Quick facts

  • 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
Canada's Innovation Supercluster consortium pleased with Provincial Budget details for two-way all-day GO Train service (May 2014)
Kitchener, ON - Local mayors and the regional chair are pleased that today's provincial budget includes specific details about how the province plans to implement two-way all-day GO Train service between Waterloo Region/Guelph and Toronto/GTA. 
 
Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr noted the importance of investing in public transit infrastructure as an economic generator and a game changer.  
 
"We're pleased the province has acknowledged our vision of two-way, all-day GO train service along the Kitchener-Toronto corridor," Mayor Zehr said.   "It's important to note that, while the legislature will vote on this budget within the next two to three weeks, the provincial minority government still requires the support of some opposition in order to pass the provincial budget."
 
In its 2014 budget, the provincial government committed to two new funds dedicated to supporting transit and transportation projects across the province. 
Over the next 10 years, $28.9 billion will be dedicated to public transit and transportation.  This includes $15 billion for projects in the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA) and $13.9 billion for investments in the rest of the province.  For areas outside the GTHA, this translates to $1.6 billion allocated this year.
 
As well, Metrolinx reached agreement in principle to purchase the 53 km rail corridor between Georgetown and Kitchener which will provide additional flexibility and control to improve service and reliability for GO commuters.   Analysis is also underway on a proposal to electrify the GO rail system, to deliver service at intervals as frequent as 15 minutes including opportunities towards regional express rail.
 
"We are very pleased Premier Kathleen Wynne has kept her commitment to our communities by including additional information about enhanced train service," Waterloo Mayor Brenda Halloran said.  "This will help drive development along the rail corridor and have regional, provincial and national economic impacts."
 
In the fall of 2013, the cities of Kitchener, Waterloo, Guelph and the Region of Waterloo jointly requested 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.  Guelph Mayor Karen Farbridge noted this is a significant project, and significant work needs to be done.
 
"There are several critical infrastructure improvements required to see this transformative  opportunity become a reality," Mayor Farbridge explained. "This is not an overnight project and we are committed to working with GO Transit and Metrolinx to ensure this project moves ahead as seamlessly as possible."
 
Increasing the connectivity of the regional economies of Waterloo Region/Guelph and Toronto/Greater Toronto Area will be a catalyst in the global completion to attract talent and innovative companies.  
 
Communitech CEO Iain Klugman noted the importance of this connectivity.
 
"We're encouraged that the province has recognized that the number one barrier to tech company growth is the ability to attract and retain talent," Klugman said.  "Improved connectivity improves our ability to nurture startups, and to grow world-class companies in southern Ontario."
 
Background:
Kitchener, Waterloo, and Guelph with the support of the Region of Waterloo, private sector partners in the financial sector and tech partners like Communitech, developed a comprehensive business case outlining the opportunity to leverage investments in provincial and regional transit infrastructure. 
 
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 analysis illustrates the majority of costs to build this system will be met from the potential $542 million in annual personal income taxes that will be generated from the increased economic activity.
 
Quick facts:
  • 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
Two-way, all-day GO train service Q&A:

Who will benefit most from an investment of this magnitude?

Municipalities on the north-south GO rail lines (CN and CP respectively) have partnered in the pursuit of increased and improved two-way, all day GO rail service to increase the connectivity of their regional economies. Kitchener, Waterloo, Guelph, Halton Hills, Brampton and the Region of Waterloo form the Waterloo Region - Toronto Corridor, encompassing a population of 6.2 million people - nearly half the population of the province of Ontario.

Why now for this project?
Two-way, all day GO rail would be a watershed project, supporting provincial objectives to:

  • Invest in infrastructure and transportation strategies

  • Promote economic productivity

  • Enhance quality of life for millions of Ontarians

  • Improve the natural environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions

How will this project impact the province/country, instead of just the people who travel between Toronto and Waterloo Region? 
The Waterloo Region-Toronto corridor can best be described as Canada's innovation corridor. Linking Toronto to Brampton, Guelph, Kitchener and Waterloo is comparable to the world's largest innovation centres, such as Silicon Valley, in terms of geographical distance, population, tech-workers and notable (global) companies. Linking these communities through two-way, all day GO rail service would be a catalyst in converting these ecosystems into a large, internationally competitive force that would have the capacity to compete with global markets like Silicon Valley.

What impact will this project have on economic development?
Initial estimates indicated that two-way, all day GO rail service would connect 13,000 companies, attract 3,000 start-ups, and create over 47,300 new jobs.

What infrastructure is in place in these cities that will support this project? 
Two-way, all day GO rail would complement and leverage the ION (Waterloo Region Rapid Transit) and existing GO rail service on the Kitchener GO line. More importantly, it will reduce Highway 401 gridlock and allow more timely movement of goods through the 400 series highways.

Ontario and Canada-wide advocacy

Municipalities across Ontario and Canada share a number of common concerns. On these issues, it is most effective for municipalities to speak with a united voice. The City of Kitchener primarily works with two municipal advocacy organizations: The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO).

FCM advocates for communities across Canada, influencing policy and programs that fall within federal jurisdiction. Members of Kitchener Council actively participate in a number of FCM committees as outlined below.

Council Involvement on FCM and AMO Committees:

Mayor Berry Vrbanovic:

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