Chair Karen Redman looks ahead to challenges Waterloo region will face in 2019
Two-way, all-day GO trains are 'a tool we need to have in our kit,' Redman says
The Region of Waterloo will face a number of new challenges in 2019, Regional Chair Karen Redman says.
In an interview to kickoff the year, Redman joined The Morning Edition guest host Jackie Sharkey Wednesday to talk about the province's Bill 66, the Restoring Ontario's Competitiveness Act, a police budget that is set to grow significantly with the ask for additional officers and transportation in the region.
Bill 66 has critics concerned about what it could mean for the region, including the countryside line and groundwater resources. The bill would allow townships in the region to move forward with development plans, which may not receive regional approval.
"We have always made good local decisions and I assume that we will continue to do that in concert with our representatives throughout the townships and the urban centres, so, we look at it and it causes concern, but we honestly haven't been able to analyze all of the impacts," Redman said.
The bill would make changes to 23 pieces of legislation in 12 departments, Redman noted.
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North Dumfries Mayor Sue Foxton has previously said she would like to see the township develop along the Northumberland Street corridor. There's been interest from businesses to go there, but Foxton says they can't allow development because of the countryside line.
"With the new Bill 66, it allows us to do that," Foxton said, noting they would offset the lands developed by protecting other areas of the township.
Redman said the last time the region did its official plan review, developers challenged the region at the Ontario Municipal Board. She says any plans for development will require co-operation between the region and township.
Police need more officers
The Waterloo Regional Police Service is proposing an increase to its budget of more than 5 per cent, in part to add 47 new officer positions.
"I would like to see them get it down," Redman said of the budget increase, but noted as she was campaigning in the fall, people said they want to live in a safe community and they want a region that helps people who are marginalized.
"I think it is really important that [the police] have the people that they need in the positions that the need," she said.
But, she added with budget talks happening in the coming weeks, the region will need to balance a number of needs, including money for paramedics, protecting groundwater, and increasing and repairing infrastructure.
Time to GO
Redman says she'll be advocating for two-way, all-day GO trains at Queen's Park and to the federal government.
She says they want to market the region as a place to invest and transportation to and from Toronto, dubbed the innovation corridor, "is a tool we need to have in our kit."
As for the LRT, staff have said it will be up and running in the spring (which runs from March 20 to June 21). While Redman wouldn't guarantee it will be running by summer, she said the region is "doing everything humanly possible to make that happen."
Listen to the whole interview: