ION, the Region of Waterloo's rapid transit service, is set to begin operation in 2017.
Photo credit: Region of Waterloo
The Region of Waterloo celebrated a historic moment Aug. 21 as officials took part in a groundbreaking ceremony for the start of ION Stage 1 Light Rail Transit (LRT) construction. The event took place at the future home of ION’s Operations, Maintenance and Storage Facility on Dutton Drive in Waterloo.
On hand for the ceremony was Peter Braid, Member of Parliament for Kitchener-Waterloo and Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Communities, on behalf of the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs; the Honourable Steven Del Duca, Ontario Minister of Transportation; Ken Seiling, Regional Chair; members of Regional Council; and officials from GrandLinq.
“Our government is proud to invest in this transit project as we focus on creating jobs, promoting growth and building strong, prosperous communities across Canada,” said MP Braid. “Investments in public transit will keep residents and visitors moving, contribute to productivity, and reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions across the region.”
The groundbreaking is a significant milestone in the implementation of ION, the Region’s rapid transit service, set to begin operation in 2017. All three levels of government are funding Stage 1 ION, including $300 million from the Province of Ontario, one-third of eligible costs up to $265 million from the Government of Canada, through the Building Canada Fund, and $253 million from the Region of Waterloo.
“Ontario’s commitment is the single largest transit infrastructure investment in the Region of Waterloo’s history and demonstrates our dedication to public transit in one of the largest and fastest-growing urban areas in the province,” said Steven Del Duca, Ontario Minister of Transportation.
ION will provide a frequent, reliable and convenient way for residents to travel throughout the region. With 200,000 new residents expected to move to Waterloo Region in the next 20 years, ION will help shape the community by encouraging development in existing urban areas, limiting urban sprawl and protecting the area’s farmland.
“For more than 10 years, the people of Waterloo Region have been engaged in planning for a rapid transit system that will help curb urban sprawl and move people in a region that is seeing rapid growth,” said Chair Seiling. “Today marks the formal start of the construction that will make the system a reality and ensure a healthy and vibrant community.”
ION will be implemented in two stages. Stage 1 is a 36-kilometre corridor that includes 19 kilometres of LRT from the Conestoga Mall transit terminal in Waterloo to the Fairview Park Mall transit terminal in Kitchener as well as 17 kilometres of adapted Bus Rapid Transit (aBRT) from the Ainslie Street transit terminal in Cambridge to the Fairview Park Mall transit terminal in Kitchener. Waterloo Region Council has committed to Stage 2, which will see the aBRT route converted to LRT, creating a 37-kilometre route of LRT across the region’s three urban centres.
GrandLinq, the Region of Waterloo’s public-private partner on Stage 1 LRT, will design, build, finance, operate and maintain ION over the next 30 years. GrandLinq officials and Region of Waterloo staff are currently finalizing the detailed construction plan for ION, which will be released this summer. Construction on ION aBRT will also get underway this summer, with the service set to begin operating in early 2015.