The mayor says a commitment in the province’s budget to make improvements that may some day lead to all-day two-way GO train service will be transformative for Guelph.
On Wednesday the provincial government laid out improvements and expanding service on the Kitchener GO line in black and white in the provincial budget.
“I actually know the page number,” said mayor Cam Guthrie Thursday. “It is so wonderful to see the commitment embedded in the budget and funding allocated to this work.”
The commitment from the province means long-planned infrastructure improvements will go ahead, including at Guelph Central Station, which is specifically named in the document. Construction for Phase 1 of the project is expected to begin in the fall, with subsequent phases taking place between 2021 and 2023.
“I am absolutely thrilled for Guelph but I am equally thrilled for the entire corridor from Toronto to Kitchener because it has been a regional project,” said Guthrie. “There were a lot of virtual high fives yesterday when the announcement came out.”
Guthrie expects more specifics on the project and additional announcements to be forthcoming. In the meantime, Guthrie said the city and Metrolinx have been working together more closely within the last year and a half or so.
“With the discussions I have had with them we are doing our part, they are doing their part,” said Guthrie.
City staff are working on projects that will help facilitate the eventual increased service.
“We are doing a focused review on at-level crossings throughout the downtown core and studies so we can keep Metrolinx informed,” said Guthrie.
In the fall Locomotive 6167 was moved from Metrolinx property to a more visible setting in John Galt Park. That will give Metrolinx the room it needs to make platform improvements to support the eventual expansion of service.
Reached by email on Thursday, Guelph MPP and Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner lauded the funding commitment and said he looks forward to hearing more details.
"All day two way GO transit service is an issue I’ve been pushing alongside other leaders and stakeholders in Guelph and Kitchener-Waterloo and I’m happy to see the Ford government’s commitment for this service,” said Schreiner. “Investing in more transit is not only good for connecting communities but it’s also beneficial in our battle to reduce climate pollution.”
Connect the Corridor, a group made up of business leaders, innovators and job creators in the province, said in a news release the commitment is the most significant step forward taken to date by the government of Ontario toward making two-way all-day GO train service along the Innovation Corridor a reality by 2025.
In the same news release, Guelph Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Shakiba Shayani said the announcement is a big win for the Guelph business community.
“This investment will unleash and attract diverse and cutting-edge talent, increase employee retention, and will boost the economic climate for business competitiveness,” said Shayani. “I’m looking forward to this work improving the movement of people across the region, contributing to economic prosperity, and solidifying the important position Guelph holds along the Innovation Corridor.”
University of Guelph president Charlotte Yates said in the same news release that fast, frequent transit along the Toronto-Guelph-Waterloo corridor will facilitate collaboration, partnerships and hands-on learning between the world class post-secondary institutions that line the Innovation Corridor.
“Making Two-way all-day GO a reality will be a catalyst for the kinds of innovation, learning and research that the University of Guelph and other Ontario’s Universities foster to fuel Ontario’s economy,” said Yates.