Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr cagey on run at 6th term

Kitchener mayor Carl Zehr, who is already the city's longest serving chief magistrate, wouldn't say whether he is considering a sixth term after 16 years on the job.

Zehr 'very close' to decision

Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr, who is already the city's longest-serving chief magistrate, wouldn't say whether he is considering a sixth term after 16 years on the job.  

"I'm very close to a decision," he told The Morning Edition host Craig Norris Tuesday. "As I said before, I will be making a decision in February and I'll be sticking to that." 

While Zehr, who was first elected in 1997, wouldn't reveal his political future, he did look back on the year that was, calling 2013 one of the busiest in his one and a half decades as mayor.

"In terms of infrastructure, we were able to complete a lot of road projects," he said. "The Block Line bridge, I think, was one of the significant things that will be much more convenient for people in that part of the city than it has been for many, many years." 

Zehr's priority for 2014

Zehr said he will focus much of his efforts this year on a proposal to the province to provide all-day, two-way GO rail service between Waterloo Region, Guelph and Toronto. 

Currently on weekdays, there is only GO rail service from Kitchener to Toronto in the morning and from Toronto to Kitchener in evening.

"One of the largest things for potential in the future," he said. "is an all-day, two-way GO service."

"It's not in our culture in Canada as it is in Europe and Asia. However, we know that as communities grow, that we need to develop a better rail system."

"So the proposal that we put forward will actually pay for itself over a period of time just from the income taxes that the federal and provincial governments get," he said. 

Cancelling LRT would cost the region, says mayor

Zehr was also asked about former CTV weather specialist Dave MacDonald's bid to replace Waterloo Mayor Brenda Halloran, who said she would not be running for the city's top job in 2015.

MacDonald is running on platform of job creation and halting the region's $800-million LRT project.

"I'm aware that there are still some people opposed to it," Zehr said. "What people are forgetting is that two plus years ago when we went through this debate the alternatives cost as much if not more." 

Zehr said that there is no money to be saved by cancelling the project altogether. 

"To cancel at this time means that we, the Region of Waterloo taxpayers, would pay the entire shot and the federal governments, the provincial governments would not be participating because they agreed to pay for a completed project and therefore the cost would be conceivably higher for the Region of Waterloo."