Even before the ION starts to move through Waterloo and Kitchener next year, there has been significant investment in the idea and the future of the LRT as the region's transportation system.

Clearly the ION is a powerful generator of interest and long term commitment by investors - Rod Regier, Region of Waterloo 

A recent report presented to the Region of Waterloo's community planning committee shows so far, private companies have invested 2.1 billion dollars along the LRT corridor.

Rod Regier, the commissioner of planning, development and legislative services with the Region of Waterloo told The Morning Edition with Craig Norris, the region always believed the project "was going to be an important tool for building a more compact and sustainable city."

"But of course as you proceed it's not always clear how people are going to respond, how investors will respond, how the public will respond, how consumers will respond," said Regier.

"Now we can see that clearly the ION is a powerful generator of interest and long term commitment by investors and consumers."

He predicts it's a trend that will continue, and growth may in fact be more than the $2.1 billion that's already happened to date.

The report, entitled Monitoring Change in the Central Transit Corridor (CTC) - 2016 Report, looked at investment in the corridor and found:

  • $600M is the assessed value of properties per year.
  • 23 per cent of property taxes were generated from 2011 to 2016.
  • Property transactions increased to over $1B in 2016. Six years worth of transaction data totalled $5B.
  • $308M value of building permits from 2011 to 2016 totalling an estimated $2.1B.
  • $166M in 2016 building permit value which adds up to $590M of investment over six years.

Peak ridership in 2013

The report also indicated transit ridership has tapered off, which is a trend Rod Regier said is connected to the lower price of gas and that "during the survey, construction was going on and contributed to the decline."

He believes the new investment in high intensity housing will turn that trend around.

"We know building housing closely connected to both stations and suburban areas is going to be important," said Regier.  "Important that we build a city around station areas so its easy to use the system."

This report is the second of an annual monitoring report on the Central Transit Corridor.

While this year's report focussed on investment in the corridor, last year's focussed on the environment, and next year's will concentrate on mobility and sustainable modes of transportation.