Folks in Kitchener Waterloo are feeling like they’ve been had now that Hamilton has been awarded $1 Billion to build an LRT system. For years Queen’s Park and local LRT advocates suggested Hamilton was in danger of losing the “race” for LRT funding by its dithering. Kitchener Waterloo was held up as an example of a community that had gotten its act together by voting to enter into a three way funding formula to build its system. But that has all changed with the Hamilton funding announcement.
The Kitchener Waterloo Record in an editorial complained: it is difficult to find a more blatant example of disregard from Queen’s Park than the sum of these simple facts: In Waterloo Region, the $818-million capital cost of the Ion light rail system, under construction, is borne more or less equally by the federal government, the provincial government, and the local taxpayers. But other light rail systems that have been recently approved — one to run trains between Mississauga and Brampton, another in Hamilton — will require no contribution from local taxpayers, because the province will pay the whole shot.
The editorial continued: Hamilton’s civic leaders have been neither as prepared for, nor as committed to, light rail as those in Waterloo Region. But this week that city received a $1-billion pledge from Queen’s Park to pay all its light rail capital costs.
It’s hard not to sympathize with Waterloo who provide evidence that the further you are from Toronto, the less you matter. We see it in land use planning, where the province tries to impose a Toronto-style housing solution– one that consists of high rise condo towers popping up like mushrooms –on communities west of Toronto. ‘Earth to Queens Park!’—young couples considering starting a family do not want to do it in 800 square foot condos. They want houses.