Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr fired back in the debate over the region's $818-million dollar transit project, saying it would be 'wrong-headed' and 'far too late' to look at Cambridge Mayor Doug Craig's proposal to look at the cost of cancelling the plan.
"It is a wrong-headed decision at this point in time, it's far too late to be second guessing what is happening," Zehr told The Morning Edition host Craig Norris Wednesday.
"Some major decisions have been by a strong majority of regional council and to be questioning how much it would cost to get it out is essentially saying 'I don't want to have it and therefore let's find a way to stop it.'"
"Well, it's too late to have it stopped without costing an inordinate amount of money," he said.
Renewed controversy over LRT
The renewed controversy over the largest public transit project the Region of Waterloo has ever seen comes after a judge gave Mayor Craig the all-clear to speak his mind on the issue for the first time in two years.
Craig declared a conflict of interest on the matter in 2011 after his son bought a property near Cambridge's Ainslie Street station.
At the time, the LRT debate swirled around the prospect of rising property values along the LRT's proposed route.
After the judge's ruling, Craig wasted no time in jumping back into the debate Tuesday, telling The Morning Edition host that the region should examine all options, including looking at the cost of cancelling the entire project.
"Look at Toronto, they're just cancelling things all over the place," Craig said Tuesday.
Public money with specific purpose
Zehr said Wednesday that the money earmarked for building the LRT was given to the region by the province for a specific purpose and can't be redirected without considerable extra cost to taxpayers.
However, Zehr couldn't quote a specific price tag for cancelling the project, saying "I really don't want to get into the numbers game, I really don't know what the figure is."
Instead, he said that the Region of Waterloo now has the democratic responsibility to ensure the project moves ahead as efficiently as possible.
"Any change of the plan, would first of all, put the project on hold for an indefinite period of time," he said. "This would put it way behind in dealing with the gridlock issue and the transit issue."
"These are tax dollars, we try to use them as efficiently as possible," he said.
Cambridge hasn't been left out, says Zehr
Zehr also responded to Craig's claims that his city was paying a considerable fee for an LRT that would only run through Kitchener and Waterloo.
Zehr shot back Wednesday saying "when phase two comes along and rail is going from Fairview Mall down into Cambridge, who's going to be paying for that?"
"We are in a region, it's a regional service and [Cambridge] will benefit equally when the time comes," he said.