"Our government is proud to invest in this transit project as we focus on creating jobs, promoting growth and building strong, prosperous communities across Canada," said Member of Parliament Peter Braid for Kitchener-Waterloo and Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Communities. "Investments in public transit will keep residents and visitors moving, contribute to productivity and reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions across the region."
The groundbreaking is a significant milestone in the implementation of ION, the region's rapid transit service, set to begin operation in 2017. All three levels of government are funding Stage 1 ION, including CA$300 million (US$274 million) from the province of Ontario, one-third of eligible costs up to CA$265 million (US$242 million) from the Canadian government through the Building Canada Fund and CA$253 million (US$231 million) from the Region of Waterloo.
"Ontario's commitment is the single largest transit infrastructure investment in the Region of Waterloo's history and demonstrates our dedication to public transit in one of the largest and fastest-growing urban areas in the province," said Steven Del Duca, Ontario Minister of Transportation.
ION will be implemented in two stages. Stage 1 is a 36-kilometer (22-mile) corridor that includes 19 kilometers (11 miles) of LRT from the Conestoga Mall transit terminal in Waterloo to the Fairview Park Mall transit terminal in Kitchener, as well as 17 kilometers (10 miles) of adapted Bus Rapid Transit (aBRT). Waterloo Region Council has committed to Stage 2, which will see the aBRT route converted to LRT, creating a 37-kilometre (23-mile) route of LRT across the region's three urban centers.