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The latest from Councillor Etherington: Iron Horse Trail users won’t use complex regional link to transit hub

2017 September 14
by Melissa

Regional councillors have lost their way as they stumble toward finding a route for a $2-million proposed link between the Iron Horse Trail and the transit hub on King Street West near Victoria Street.
The hub will eventually house Light Rail Transit, GO transit, Via Rail and Grand River buses.
Following the direction of regional staff, most councillors seem to back a bewildering route through the Cherry Park community that exits the popular trail near Gage Street.
At a neighbourhood meeting last night, Cherry Park residents heard the route would go through Raddatz Park, along Waverly Road to Strange Street, through Cherry Park, down a Park Street sidewalk to Kitchener’s Bramm Street parking lot and continue adjacent to a rail line until it reaches the transit hub.
It’s hardly surprising they were confused.
The mangled 1.3-kilometre route is being supported by councillors instead of a direct link adjacent to the CN rail track favoured by Kitchener staff and regional councillors Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic and Geoff Lorentz.
The Iron Horse trail is used by about 1,730 cyclists and pedestrians every day and the indirect route is being recommended for two ill-conceived reasons.
* To qualify for a $1.3-million infrastructure grant offered by the higher levels of  government. Construction deadline for that grant is March 2018 but it is likely to be extended to March 2019.
* Nightmare bureaucratic difficulties any time local government tries to work with CN and the Goderich-Exeter Railway that usually takes  years to negotiate
And while I understand the reasoning, it doesn’t change the fact that if regional councillors want to do the project right and have people actually use the link, the best action would be to use the federal and provincial grant toward a down payment for that direct route alongside the rail track.
A final regional council decision is expected in October.
I would suggest trail users attend the meeting or contact their occasionally invisible regional councillors.
Kitchener voters are also represented by Tom Galloway, TGalloway@regionofwaterloo.ca, Elizabeth Clark, EClark@regionofwaterloo.ca and Karen Redman,  KRedman@regionofwaterloo.ca

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