2014 election is 'referendum' on LRT, says Cambridge mayor

Cambridge mayor Doug Craig says the upcoming 2014 municipal election will end up being a referrendum on Region of Waterloo's light rail project.
Mayor Doug Craig had requested that the costs of cancelling the LRT system be made available to the public. His motion was defeated by a vote of 10-3. (Brian St. Denis/CBC)

Cambridge Mayor Doug Craig says the upcoming 2014 municipal election will end up being a referendum on Region of Waterloo's light rail project. 

"Let's go to the public and the elections in the fall and let's decide this issue, if this is really what the regional community wants. And I can tell you right now the regional community does not want this project in its present form," he told Craig Norris, host of The Morning Edition, Thursday morning. 

"It is a referendum and these people are going to be on the line for what they're doing."

Doug Craig's four motions 

  • Defer any contributions to the Regional Transportation Master Plan fund until 2015 
  • ​Staff report back on the elimination of 35 positions through a process of attrition 
  • Staff review and comment on a three-year planned budget cycle starting in 2016 and modeled after the City of Waterloo 
  • Staff re‐look at the initial phase one of the Rapid Transit Plan and report back with options on how to reduce the overall cost of the project

Craig announced Wednesday afternoon he would table a motion to regional council with suggestions on how to bridge Waterloo Region's anticipated $8-million budget shortfall. 

One of his four suggestions is to put off next year's contribution to the region's Transportation Master Plan – which includes funding for the light rail transit plan – for a year, saving $5.5 million.

"Supporting arts, culture, benefits for the poor, these are the kinds of things that I think have to stay in the budget," said Craig. 

"We do cutbacks everywhere but I think rapid transit also has to be in that category of either being deferred partially or having a cutback." 

But Kitchener mayor – and fellow regional councillor – Carl Zehr said debate on the LRT is long over, and the project will go ahead.

"We did go through a very democratic and rational approach and decision process to get to that decision both in the last council and this current council. This current council actually has already voted on whether or not we should delay it, and it was turned down," Zehr told Norris on Thursday.

Mayor Craig's motion, including all four suggestions for reducing the regional deficit, will be debated by Region of Waterloo councillors Dec. 11. 


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