By Working Together, Our Local Leaders Successful in Promoting Needs of Waterloo Region at Queen’s Park
Kitchener, ON – Waterloo region municipal leaders descended upon Queen’s Park in Toronto today to meet with provincial leaders to discuss local challenges and economic opportunities. Elected and senior staff leaders told the Waterloo Region story to Provincial Ministers, Opposition Critics, and Ministry staff during our first-ever collective Waterloo Region Advocacy Day at Queen’s Park.
Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic, Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky, Township of North Dumfries Mayor Sue Foxton, and Township of Woolwich Councillor Larry Shantz were joined by Regional Chair Ken Seiling as local leaders jointly travelled to Toronto to discuss issues of priority for the citizens and municipalities of Waterloo region.
Discussions included lost economic productivity and opportunities due to transportation gridlock and the need for improved transit service between Waterloo region and Toronto by way of Two Way All Day GO train service to Kitchener, extending GO train service to Cambridge, and High Speed Rail. Other discussions included funding for local infrastructure improvements and social and affordable housing, and ways to support our local economy.
"For years, other cities have met as groups with provincial leaders to advocate for important issues in their respective areas," said Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. "As the tenth largest census metropolitan area (CMA) in Canada and fourth largest CMA in Ontario, it is critical that we do our part to collectively meet with provincial decision-makers and let them know what we need to ensure Waterloo Region continues to be one of our province's strongest economic engines."
Over the course of the day, the municipal leaders met with various government leaders including Premier Kathleen Wynne, as well as Provincial cabinet Ministers including local Ministers: Transportation Minister Kathryn McGarry (Cambridge), Minister of Tourism, Culture & Sport Daiene Vernile (Kitchener Centre), Minister of Economic Development & Growth Steven Del Duca, and Minister of Housing and Responsible for Poverty Reduction Peter Milczyn.
“Local business leaders regularly tell us that ongoing economic success is intertwined with strong public transit connectivity with Toronto and the GTA,” said Dave Jaworsky, Mayor of Waterloo. “Two Way All Day GO and High Speed Rail have to be seen as the way of the future for connectivity. Other Innovation corridors in the world are using rail to effectively move people, and so should we.”
The delegation also met with local opposition MPPs Michael Harris (Kitchener-Conestoga, Critic for Transportation, Research, Innovation & Science) and Catherine Fife (Kitchener-Waterloo, Critic for Economic Development, Employment, Research and Innovation, and Early Years and Child Care), as well as other critics in the opposition parties.
“One of the concerns we want to speak about is affordable housing,” said Regional Chair Ken Seiling. “With over 3,000 households on our waiting list, and the challenges we face which would benefit from more affordable supportive housing, we look forward to working with our provincial government partners to explore ways we can together address challenges in this area.”
The Waterloo Region Advocacy Day will also include an opportunity to meet with our local MPPs and their Toronto staff so as to provide an ongoing link for our advocacy efforts between the region and Queen’s Park. All of them, and especially the office of the Hon. Daiene Vernile, have been extremely helpful in the co-ordination of this initiative.
“Recreation and Culture increases the quality of life for all residents,” said Doug Craig Mayor of Cambridge. “Communities need a full mix of facilities so families and individuals of all ages have places to go. Activities, exercise, arts and culture, all contribute to the well-being of our residents.” “Agriculture and the environment are near and dear to the hearts of everybody in Woolwich,” said Sandy Shantz, Mayor of the Township of Woolwich.
“Having clean land and water supports our economy, whether it’s the innovative agriculture sector or other industries. We look forward to working together with the provincial government to strengthen the Province’s precious rural areas.” “Infrastructure is just as important for rural communities as it is for urban centres,” said Joe Nowak, Mayor of the Township of Wellesley.