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A western Metrolinx?
Municipalities discuss regional planning

A delegation of the heads of council for Brant County, the Cities of Brantford, Cambridge and Kitchener, the Region of Waterloo, the City of Waterloo and Wellington County plan to discuss ways to fast-track an integrated regional transportation initiative and its funding with Glen Murray, Ontario’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.

The meeting with Minister Murray takes place next week during the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference taking place in Ottawa from Sunday, August 18 until Wednesday, August 21.

Early work on the regional transportation initiative began in 2010 when the Ministry of Transportation, Guelph and nearby municipalities agreed to undertake a strategic regional transportation planning initiative to address regional needs of all modes of public transportation.

According to the Guelph Mercury,

“Waterloo Region’s grappling with urban transit issues, proponents in Guelph and Kitchener have long called for improvements to the east-west Highway 7 corridor between them, congested Morriston wants a north-south bypass, there have been proposals for Highway 124 improvements or rerouting between Cambridge and Guelph… and provincial discussion on a new corridor running west from the Greater Toronto Area (and passing north of Guelph) to parallel the crammed Highway 401 artery. The economic impact of congestion is increasingly a concern for some.

“But there’s a conflicting cross-current between transportation infrastructure as population’s grow and Queen’s Park’s Places To Grow legislation, limiting municipal sprawl and protecting green spaces… “

The Mercury quotes Guelph Mayor Karen Fairbridge, who said she suggested meeting with Premier Kathleen Wynne in 2010, when she was still transportation minister. Farbridge said Wynne, recognizing the co-operation among municipal leaders, was receptive.

The meeting with Minister Murray will seek the next step — to establish a terms of reference for a regional transportation study to examine roads, rail and public transit —- much like Metrolinx does in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area.

Mayor Fairbridge and the group of other mayors, reeves and the Waterloo regional chair will also suggest that the government of Ontario expand GO Transit train service on the Georgetown and Milton lines further west, the Mercury reports.