Category Archives: Regional Councillor Jane Mitchell’s Blog

Region of Waterloo Ontario Councillor Jane Mitchell comments on Regional Issues.

Transportation: The LRT/ION. Part 1 of The Fourth of my Five Priorities for the Next Term of Council

 My Pledge: I will continue to make sure that the LRT/ION is on budget and on time.

Why did I vote for the LRT?

I have a Master Library and Information Science. Before I made my decision on the LRT, I did my research. I looked at information for light rail and information for bus rapid transit, both pro and con.

In 2010, I said I wouldn’t accept LRT in its present form with respect to cost. The province had said they would give 500 million to the light rail project. They came in with 300 million. So changes needed to be made to the financing of LRT before I could find it acceptable.

Staff found efficiencies and savings and we went to a Public Private Partnership which brought the burden on the taxpayer down to 11 dollars per year per household. If the estimated cost of fares is included, the amount is .5  increase per year until 2018. When weighing the increase against the 20,900 jobs LRT will create, the benefits to intensification and reduced gridlock, the benefits outweighed the costs.

Also Grandlinq is very experienced in building and running light rail. The Region still owns the ION and will control fares.

During the last election, I promised to support looking again at rapid buses. Once again I did my research. I found BRT wanting.

For my research, I studied the light rail of a number of cities, both southern and northern cities like Edmonton and Calgary. The city I looked at in particular was Portland Oregon.

This is what a traveller had to say about Portland in 1970,

Scattered bomb-site look of downtown parking lots.

Compare this to today where the downtown is according to the Lonely Planet,

Portland positively rocks. It’s a city with a vibrant downtown, pretty residential neighborhoods

Why? Portland turned away from parking lots to intensification, light rail and transit. Waterloo Region is doing the same to save our farmland, stop sprawl, cut gridlock and create great vibrant downtowns. Downtowns that a few years before the hope of this project were dying.

The provincial and federal governments supported Waterloo Region’s light rail because it is a job generator. 16,900 jobs will be created around the ION stations. This does not include direct jobs such as ION drivers, construction workers and engineers building the line.

Waterloo is the city that will benefit most from the ION. 70,000 university students already jam the Ixpress and crowding is one of the issues the Feds talked to me about when we met. Imagine the gridlock if students got off the buses and drove again. The Universities and their high tech spinoffs are Waterloo’s bread and butter.

Traffic congestion can be solved by transit or by expanding roads. If we do not have the ION, we will have to build 300 to 400 new and expanded roads at a cost similar to the ION. Westmount at Glasgow will have to be 6 lanes as will Fischer Hallman and Victoria St.

The LRT is being built as you read this. Caroline St. is already dug up, the rail cars are ordered, contacts are signed. To stop it would cost hundreds of millions of dollars for nothing. Look to Ottawa where the LRT was cancelled then restarted when the buses ended up in a gridlock conga line at rush hour. If Bus Rapid Transit, with its slightly lesser cost upfront but more costs later to replace buses, were put in, it would end up costing more than the LRT because the millions wasted by the cancellation would still be on your tax bill.

That being said,  I will continue to make sure that the LRT/ION is on budget (Inflation has been built into the 818 million cost) and on time.

Transportation, Roads  Part 2

Transportation, Cycling and Walking Part 3

Transportation, Transit, Part 4

Signing up to Run Again!

After much thought and discussion with family and friends over the holidays, I have decided to not delay putting my name in once again for Regional Councillor. We are at a pivotal point in our Region as we move ahead controlling growth and urban sprawl while making the Region inviting for business and technology. With the present population pressures, we cannot stop people from coming to this generally prosperous, family-friendly Region. Therefore we must tackle the problems of sewage, transit and roads, waste disposal, affordable housing and emergency services. At the same time, we must continue giving our citizens the best value for their tax dollar.

I have been a Regional Councillor for the past 13 years. I am presently Chair of the Employment and Income Support Community Advisory Committee and Vice-Chair Community Services Committee. I am a member of the Community Safety and Crime Prevention Council, Active Transportation Advisory Committee, Residual Waste Master Plan Working Group, GRT and Mobility PLUS Business Plan Project Team, City of Waterloo GRT Improvements, and Licensing and Retail Committee.

As Chair of the Grand River Conservation Authority for the last three years, I have overseen a lean organization committed to water quality and quantity in the Grand River Watershed, along with flood control and recreation. I accepted a one third pay cut to help the funds for the GRCA to go where they are needed most.  I represent the GRCA at Source Water Protection and Conservation Ontario.

In order to improve the Grand River and the Region of Waterloo, I lobby at the provincial and federal levels.

From 1990 to 2000, I was a trustee of the Waterloo Region District School Board where I was Chair of Employee Relations and the Special Education Advisory Committee.

I volunteer extensively in the community, presently with the Sunnydale Community and the Cedarbrae Breakfast Club. I have spearheaded the Waterloo Region Women’s Municipal Campaign School for the last three election cycles. The present Mayor of Waterloo and half her council attended the school before they ran.

I have a volunteer pin from the City of Waterloo and a Silver Thanks pin from the Girl Guides. I have been nominated as an Oktoberfest Woman of the Year.

I have a Master of Library and Information Science, Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Arts.

I recently wound up my internet business, Arachneweb Consulting and Design but continue an interest in technology and information. I was previously the librarian at Renison College for 18 years. I am a published author and presently, in my limited spare time, I am getting a book ready for publication.

I have lived in Waterloo since my childhood and am fortunate to have my children and grandchildren living in Waterloo Region.

As shown by my resume, I work hard for the citizens of Waterloo. I intend to continue to work hard next term.