Some outstanding questions in the ongoing debate about council’s decision to build a new, two-track rail bridge at Margaret Avenue.
A debate where, like a few other councillors, I controlled my frustration and held my nose by voting in favour of the $6.3-million bridge. I did so given the understandable demands from very patient residents in surrounding communities who have been inconvenienced for more than a year by the closure of an important bridge because of safety concerns.
Since then, despite provincial-election puffery from Glen Murray, former Ontario transportation minister, it has become obvious, partly because of huge provincial debt, that high-speed rail through Kitchener is nowhere on the transportation horizon.
A few of the questions:
1. After leading Kitchener voters to believe high-speed rail service to Toronto was just down the track, why have Kitchener staff and council been unable to get the required basic information on that service in order to make an informed, intelligent decision?
2. Why could we not get clarity from the provincial government even after outgoing Mayor Carl Zehr advised Kitchener residents to vote Liberal in the provincial election in order to safeguard provincial plans in and around our city?
3. Why have we not heard a murmer on the high-speed option from newly-elected Kitchener Liberal MPP Daiene Vernile?
4. When there is such a vital need for high-speed rail to ease pressure on the congested Highway 401 and link our expanding high-tech’ community to Toronto, why are we now unlikely to see that service for at least a decade?
5. If and when we are forced to widen the bridge to accommodate high-speed trains, will the province or local taxpayers pay the multi-million-dollar cost to demolish and replace the Margaret Avenue facility?
I won’t hold my breathe waiting for answers.