Waterloo region to get $61M for 'priority' transit projects, including upgraded bus stops
Projects expected to begin as soon as fall 2019, provincial spokesperson says
The Region of Waterloo is getting $60.7 million for 16 transit projects, including upgrading bus stops, increasing bus service to Conestoga College and building a new bus maintenance facility.
Ontario's Infrastructure Minister Laurie Scott was in the region Tuesday morning to make the announcement. The projects were proposed by the Region of Waterloo.
"It is a huge announcement," Scott said, noting with funding from the federal government and the region, it totals $182 million.
The provincial government announced the funding on Tuesday, saying a list of "nominated" projects has been sent to the federal government. The two levels of government will help fund the projects through Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.
Now, Scott says it's up to the federal government to approve the projects so the region can move forward.
"Hopefully the federal government will approve as quickly as possible. This is not new information to them," Scott said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau previously criticized Ontario Premier Doug Ford for his government's work with the program.
Some projects 'really ready to go'
Regional Coun. Tom Galloway, who also chairs the region's planning and works committee, said the funding is welcome, although they have been waiting for it.
"This has taken a bit longer than we had hoped. We have a couple of projects that are really ready to go," he said, noting they've pre-qualified contractors and they're ready to put tenders out as soon as the federal government approves the funding.
Galloway said he's excited about the active transportation projects, including trails, bike lanes and a pedestrian-cycling bridge.
One of the big projects is a new 200-bus maintenance and storage facility to be built in Waterloo. It's anticipated to cost about $119 million, with the region chipping in $32 million and funding from the province and federal government making up more than $86.5 million.
In March, when the former infrastructure minister Monte McNaughton announced municipalities could apply for funding for transit projects, the region's Chair Karen Redman said they didn't want to miss the 2019 build season and "we're getting down to the crunch time right now."
On Tuesday, Galloway said he wasn't sure it would be possible to build the facility this year.
"I suspect that given the time it takes to get a tender out, the time it takes for the contractors who are very, very busy at this time of year to respond to that, I don't know the exact schedule, staff might be able to know, but I suspect not," he said.
Redman says she's thrilled with Tuesday's announcement. She says she understands there was a delay in the projects being approved by the province as the government "did its due diligence."
She says the region can't start building until the federal government signs off on the funding.
"I know from talking to our MP counterparts, they're keen to have this move forward," Redman said. "I'm pretty confident that this will happen quickly and then we will get the wheels in motion."
- An earlier version of this story had the wrong amount for the cost of the bus maintenance facility. The estimated cost is $118,818,000.Jul 31, 2019 9:59 AM ET