K-W to see improvements in transportation options

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Photo by Qiao Lui

Ontario’s provincial government recently announced that they will be boosting funding and support in the Region of Waterloo in order to improve transportation options.

The support, which will start in 2019, will provide the Region of Waterloo with long-term and reliable funding to ultimately enhance and expand local transit while offering more travel options for families and individuals who commute.

The decision was made in response to many frustrated daily commuters and from municipalities who struggle to maintain their transit needs.

In order to do so, Ontario will be increasing the amount of funding for the Waterloo Region as well as numerous other municipalities through the gas tax program.

Ontario’s gas tax program was created in 2004 and made permanent in 2013 in hopes of providing a more stable source of funding for municipalities in Ontario.

Within the program, every two cents are funded by Ontario’s government for every litre of gasoline sold.

Since 2004, over 3.7 billion has been committed by Ontario to municipalities throughout the province.

Beginning in 2019, Ontario will gradually increase the gas tax funds.

By 2021, the municipal share will be doubled from two cents a litre to four cents.

The enhanced funding to the program will not result in increased taxes which people in Ontario pay for gasoline.

In past years, the Region of Waterloo received an average of 9.6 million from the gas tax funding program.

With the new boost in funding, the region could potentially see an increase to approximately 12 million in 2019-20, 14.4 million in 2020-21 and 19.2 million in 2021-22.

“Increased gas tax funding will help improve service and tackle congestion. Supporting our municipal partners, this investment is critical to improving our Region’s economy and overall quality of life,” Daiene Vernile, MPP for Kitchener Centre, said in an email announcement.

With this increase in support, the Waterloo Region will be able to use the funds in order to upgrade infrastructure, improved accessibility, implement fare strategies, extend hours of service and add more transit routes.

The region hopes this will create stronger public transit systems to ultimately create more jobs, develop the economy and help individuals in their everyday lives.

“We’ve heard loud and clear from municipalities that they need more sustainable funding for public transit to keep up with the demand to provide more service,” Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation, also said in an email statement.

“By modernizing Ontario’s gas tax program we are helping municipalities improve their local transit service so people can easily get where they need to be.”

The provincial government’s focus and commitment to local transit options also strives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

One bus can keep up to 40 alternate vehicles off the roads which can reduce 25 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions out of the atmosphere every year.

Additionally, according to research, every 100 million of public infrastructure investment within Ontario can boost GDP by 114 million, especially within manufacturing and construction related sectors.

“[This] announcement will allow Waterloo Region to invest in better public transit, making it easier for individuals and families in our community to go to school, work and back home again,” said Kathryn McGarry, MPP for Cambridge, in an email statement.

“Our government understands that communities need strong, stable funding to be able to build the public transit we need for today and tomorrow.”

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