The area's mayors again made their pitch for two-way, all day long GO Train service between Kitchener and Union Station in Toronto to Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa today.
As part of a pre-budget consultation that included Kitchener Centre MPP John Milloy, outgoing Kitchener mayor Carl Zehr made the case on behalf of Waterloo mayor Brenda Halloran and Guelph Mayor Karen Farbridge for provincial and federal government funds to pay for the capital costs of greatly increasing GO Train rail service between our area and downtown Toronto.
They claim the stretch of land between Waterloo-Wellington and Toronto represent an "innovation supercluster," as Farbridge calls it, and want a 10 year capital committment from the higher levels of government in order to pay for it.
For the cost of upgrading rail infrastructure to support our two round trips per day as it stands, Guelph has to pony up $3.15 million in cash and property to Metrolinx, a provincial agency, between now and 2016.
The cost of additional trains, crews, fuel and the potential need for rail line improvements and related infrastructure would require millions more in funding.
But the mayors counter the stretch between Waterloo-Wellington and Toronto houses 34,000 tech jobs as it stands. A third of those workers commute between the two areas, and they could be joined by as many as 37,000 other "tech and creative workers" by 2031.
The bigger selling feature is that more train trips between Kitchener and Guelph could ease congestion on Highway 7.
But an expanded highway is already on its way, promised by the McGuinty Liberals as they sought to sweeten things during their failed bid at a de-facto majority in the Kitchener-Waterloo byelection of 2012.
According to an announcement by Ontario's Transportation Minister, construction on a new four lane to replace Highway 7 is to start by 2015, and finish sometime after 2016.
UPDATE: Kate Sullivan at Mayor Farbridge's offices clarified with me that Farbridge and Halloran weren't at yesterday's meeting. Zehr spoke on behalf of all three of them.