One Affordable Regional Transit Service  for All of Niagara is Long Overdue

With New Transit Funding of $148 Million From The Province of Feds, It Is At Long Last Time To Bring It On!

A News Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted March 16th, 2018 on Niagara At Large

He has long been one of the region’s champions for a full-fledged affordable public transit system for Niagara, and, once again, he has shown his commitment to that goal.

Vance Badawey, who was Mayor of Port Colborne and a Niagara regional councillor when he jumped on board the campaign for a region-wide transit system, stood beside St. Catharines’ federal and provincial representatives Chris Bittle and Jim Bradley – this time as the federal representative and Liberal government member for the riding of Niagara Centre – to announce, this March 15th, an unprecedented amount of federal and provincial funding for public transit in the region.

Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey making $148 million transit announcement outside Niagara regional headquarters this March 15th. Photo courtesy of Kara Emberson at V. Badawey’s constituency office

The funding, to be split between municipalities in Niagara that operate transit system, totals $148 million, and could and should be used to turn Niagara’s patchwork of transit services in to one region-wide system that is accessible and affordable to all residents.

Badawey said as much during the announcement this March 15th at Niagara regional headquarters, stressing that what he would like to see is “a streamlined, more efficient and affordable regional system is put in place that aligns with future GO service.”

It is a vision that a number of citizen groups have pressed for in Niagara over the past decade, and it has also been a goal foursome of Niagara’s other municipal leaders, including St. Catharines regional councillor Tim Rigby, former Grimsby regional councillor Debbie Zimmerman, and now gone senior staff in regional government’s public works department like Joe Cousins and Ken Brothers.

More than four years ago, from left, then Niagara regional public works director Ken Brothers, then Niagara Region chair Gary Burroughs, then Port Colborne regional councilor and Port Colborne may (now Niagara Centre MPP) Vance Badawey and then Grimsby regional councilor Debbie Zimmerman, along with St. Catharines regional councilor Tim Riigby, cut ribbon for new Niagara Region transit buses. File Photo by Doug Draper

Yet all we have gotten so far from the current Al Caslin administration at the regional level is agreements with local transit providers, including the major ones in Niagara Falls, Welland and St. Catharines, to consolidate operations in way that have better lined up bus routes as well as adding some.

But the actions achieved by other region’s in Ontario like Waterloo, with a two-tier municipal government system like Niagara that uploaded transit services to the regional level about two decades ago and has since seen huge increases in transit ridership, has yet to be realized in Niagara.

Caslin and his political allies in the region have been pressing the provincial government for regular, year-round GO Transit services to Niagara, but to what end if there isn’t a convenient system for moving people around the region once they step off the GO train or bus?

Expanded Go services may be good if the main goal is to get more people back and forth between the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)and the casinos in Niagara Falls, or you want to turn municipalities in Niagara into even more of a bedroom community for people working in the GTA

Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey on a regional transit bus this March 15th with Thorold Mayor Ted Luciani, a supporter of a regional bus system, following funding announcement. Photo courtesy of Kara Emberson

But what about younger people and others in Niagara who don’t have cars and just need a more accessible, affordable bus system in this region to get them to a job and to other places they need or want to go?

The failure of the Caslin administration at the regional level to move any further forward than it has in building one single, efficient and affordable transit system for all Niagara residents is one more reason to sweep Caslin and his political allies out of office in this coming October’s municipal elections.

And with the large infusion of transit dollars for Niagara, announced by federal and provincial representatives this March 15th, there should be no further excuses.

This funding is very good news for Niagara, and I am only sorry it wasn’t made contingent on an agreement from Niagara’s regional government and local municipal transit provides to do what Waterloo and other Ontario regions with two tiers of municipal government have, and create one regional transit commission now with a vision to serving all of Niagara.

What follows is background information, including dollar numbers that came with the March 15th announcement, and then feel free at the bottom of this post to share your views.

Backgrounder

Canada and Ontario sign a new agreement to make significant investments in transformative infrastructure projects

Supporting new projects that build prosperous communities and transition to a clean growth economy.

Under the $180 billion Investing in Canada infrastructure plan, the Government of Canada is signing new bilateral agreements with all provinces and territories, which will see more than $33 billion in federal investment towards significant infrastructure projects across the country. The objective of these investments is to transform the way Canadians live, move and work in four priority areas:

  • Public transit;
  • Green infrastructure;
  • Community, culture, and recreation infrastructure; and
  • Rural and northern communities.

Ontario’s Funding Allocations

The table below shows the allocations for Ontario by funding stream from 2018-2028 which amounts to $10,371,166,789.

 

 

* Outcomes will be obtained through projects which will be communicated in more details as they are announced.

The bilateral agreements will allow the Government of Canada and the provinces and territories to agree on shared results as well as a method of reporting on results on a regular basis. The bilateral agreements support the following long-term results:

  • Increase the rate of economic growth in an inclusive and sustainable way;
  • Improve environmental quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase resiliency of communities;
  • Improve mobility in Canadian communities;
  • Make Canadian communities more inclusive and accessible; and
  • Manage infrastructure in a more sustainable way.

Under these new bilateral agreements, the Government of Canada will not only make significant investments in Canadian communities, but also open the door to unique and innovative project ideas that meet the agreed-upon outcomes. These new ideas will contribute to the long-term sustainability of our infrastructure.

In order to ensure our partners consider opportunities to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions or better adapt to climate change during the project development stage, a new climate lens will be applied for certain projects. Additionally, partners will also report on how larger projects are creating job opportunities for a broader array of Canadians in the construction industry and related sectors through a new Community Employment Benefits framework.

For information on cost-sharing, please see Infrastructure Canada’s website.

Niagara Region Transit Allocations

The Public Transit stream will provide provinces, territories and municipalities with funding to address the new construction, expansion, and improvement and rehabilitation of public transit infrastructure.

The table below provides an overview of the maximum federal transit allocations included in this announcement.

Municipality Maximum Transit Allocation
Niagara Falls  $            20,718,475.82
Niagara Region  $              1,860,820.71
Niagara-on-the-Lake  $                 148,915.97
St. Catharines  $            47,032,154.47
Fort Erie  $                 524,115.07
Thorold  $              2,962,303.00
Welland  $              7,835,891.81
Port Colbourne  $                 239,041.93

The table below provides an overview of the maximum provincial transit allocations included in this announcement.

Municipality Maximum Transit Allocation
Niagara Falls  $            17,092,743.00
Niagara Region  $              1,535,177.00
Niagara-on-the-Lake  $                 122,856.00
St. Catharines  $            38,801,527.00
Fort Erie  $                 432,395.00
Thorold  $              2,443,900.00
Welland  $              6,464,611.00
Port Colbourne  $                 197,210.00

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space below the Bernie quote.

A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.

For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater bi-national Niagara region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at www.niagaraatlarge.com .

 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

 

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