“This is further proof of our government’s commitment to provide accessible, modern transit infrastructure that is reducing commute times and improving the quality of life for Ontarians.” – Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca
By Doug Draper
Posted June 28th, 2016 on Niagara At Large
Niagara, Ontario – St. Catharines MPP introduced it as a “historic transportation announcement” for the Niagara Region.
Allan Caslin, Niagara’s regional government chair elected to the Region’s council by voters in St. Catharines, said it is the fulfillment of what has been his council’s “number one priority” for the past two years and a “team effort” by the Region, Niagara’s local councils and representatives of the provincial legislature.
“We are thrilled today,” said Caslin this June 28th as he stood at the St. Catharines rail station with Bradley, Ontario’s Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca and others. “We have finally done it.”
“Niagara, we are back and we are here to stay,” cheered Caslin before joining the others for a group shot with everyone flashing a thumb’s up.
The announcement, outlined by Del Duca during a media briefing at the rail station, is for plans by the province “to bring new weekday GO rail service between the future Confederation GO Station in Hamilton and the Niagara Region starting in 2021, with service to Niagara Falls by 2023.”
The transportation minister whent on to explant that “subject to a final agreement with CN Rail, Metrolinx will start the consultations, planning and design work required to implement the service including:
- Track improvements
- New and upgraded rail stations
- A new layover facility in Niagara Falls
- Additional GO rail fleet to provide service along the corridor
- Adding more than 30 kilometres of new track.
Three other stations are proposed along the corridor in addition to the Confederation GO Station – a new station on Casablanca Boulevard in Grimsby as well as upgraded VIA rail stations in St. Catharines and Niagara Falls.”
“Expansion of the regional rapid transit network will help support economic development, increase travel options and manage congestion,” a media release the Ontario government prepared for the announcement continued. “Work will begin in 2017 to plan, design and retrofit the existing VIA stations, with completion expected in 2023. Service is estimated to reach Grimsby in 2021, and construction would be completed by 2023 to enable service to Niagara Falls.”
A joint statement circulated this June 28th by Caslin and the mayors of Niagara’s 12 local municipalities reads as follows –
“The plan unveiled today by the Province to bring daily GO Train service to Niagara is great news for all of our communities. We appreciate the collaborative relationship that Premier Wynne initiated with us and that Minister Del Duca continued alongside our local government MPP Jim Bradley.
There is now a firm timeline and we look forward to working with Metrolinx and the Province on this important service for Niagara residents. Strengthening our connection to and from the GTHA enhances our ability to attract new people to Niagara, creating new opportunities for job creation and business expansion.
Today we are seeing the power of speaking with one voice. This announcement is the result of a strong and united effort across Niagara to make our number one priority of daily GO Train service a reality.
The enthusiastic support of our business community, hospitals, post-secondary institutions and the thousands of residents who lent their voice and passion has played a vital role in making today’s announcement possible.”
In a separate media release, Wayne Gates, the NDP MPP for the Niagara Falls riding, said he is “committed to work with the Minister to see this project completed, but I let him know. I’m not going to stop pushing for a better timeline.”
“The GO train must come to Niagara Falls before 2023,” Gates said. “We have local people here in Niagara who need work. This is a project that can and should put local people back to work – the sooner we get the shovels in the ground the better it is for working families here in Niagara.”
Before wrapping up his remarks this June 28th, Caslin said his regional government “is working with Niagara’s largest municipalities to create an effective inter-municipal transit system that will move our people where they need to go, when they want to get there.”
A growing number of groups, including the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce and student councils at Niagara College and Brock University have been pressing municipal councillors in the region for years now to do what other Ontario regions like Waterloo and Durham have done and create one seamless regional transit system that is affordable, accessible and convenient for all Niagara residents.
At an economic summit hosted by the Greater Niagara Chamber last fall, St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik and former Niagara regional councillor Debbie Zimmerman said expanded regional transit service is an essential part of transit system for Niagara that includes a year-round, weekday Go Train runs to and from the region.
And in an open letter to municipal councillors across the region earlier this June, the Greater Niagara Chamber again called for “the implementation of a single farebosix for the Niagara transit system. …
“A consolidated public transit system,” added the Chamber in the letter, “would offer benefits such as decreased travel times, better labour force flexibility and mobility, and better youth retention and attraction owing to increased coordination between municipalities and a single farebox system offering greater efficiency and affordability to riders.”
Niagara At Large will be posting more in the near future on the status of public transit services in the Niagara region, what more needs to be done and what other regions in Ontario have done already.
Watch a video of the June 28th Go announcement at the St. Catharines train station by clicking on –
NOW IT IS YOUR TURN. Niagara At Large encourages you to share your views on this post. A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who share their first and last name with them.
Visit Niagara At Large at www.niagaraatlarge.com for more news and commentary for and from the greater bi-national Niagara region.
“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders