Canada’s Innovation Supercluster

December 16, 2013


Last week I joined representatives from Waterloo and Kitchener to promote full two-way GO Train service with the Premier’s Office, Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment.  We received an encouraging response and a call to make our presence known – Canada’s Innovation Supercluster.
A joint press release was issued this morning from our three communities.  You can also read the business case that has been developed to support this investment in transportation infrastructure. 
Two-way GO train service to Kitchener needed to strengthen “Canada’s Innovation Supercluster”. 

Guelph, On –The cities of Kitchener, Waterloo and Guelph, the Region of Waterloo and partners in the region’s technology and financial services sectors, including Communitech, Google Canada, Open Text, Desire2Learn, Manulife, and The Co-operators, are calling on the provincial government to provide full two-way GO Train service on the Kitchener Line by including an allocation for this service in the 10-year capital portion of the 2014 provincial budget.

A comprehensive 90-page business case, documenting the benefits for the regional and provincial economy of this service, has been presented to the Minister of Transportation, as well as to officials in the Office of the Premier, the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment and at Metrolinx.

The recent report from the Transit Investment Strategy Advisory Panel further strengthens the case for investing in transit. Importantly, the panel notes that the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) is not the only area requiring this investment, and any revenues generated outside of the GTHA should be spent in those regions.

The Toronto to Waterloo region corridor, known as Canada’s Innovation Supercluster, represents one of the most significant economic growth opportunities both provincially and nationally.  Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr noted that two-way rail service is essential to leverage the significant economic and city-building momentum already underway along this 100 km corridor.

“This is about job creation and our ability to attract and retain the best and brightest minds,” said Mayor Zehr.  “The Kitchener, Waterloo, Guelph and Toronto innovation corridor represents one of the most significant economic growth opportunities in Ontario and Canada.   Two-way GO train is the catalyst we need to accelerate urban intensification and enhance sustainability — both key provincial and community objectives.”

“We have the opportunity – and the obligation – to leverage the talent and minds our innovators need.  We are calling for a forward-thinking commitment and investment from the provincial and federal governments to create one large and internationally competitive corridor of innovation,” Mayor Zehr added.

The business case for two-way urban commuter rail cites compelling stats:  two out of every three new tech companies in Canada are founded in Waterloo region.  An enhanced intercity transit service, from Toronto to Waterloo region, would create a globally-competitive tech ecosystem, with over 12,800 companies, 2,800 start-ups and 205,000 tech employees. Job growth forecasts estimate that more than $800 million in personal income tax would be generated.

“We are seeing incredible opportunities and advances as we link our regional strengths together. Guelph’s innovation contribution is unique but dependent on the whole to succeed,” said Guelph’s Mayor, Karen Farbridge. “We recognize two-way GO service as a key piece to unleash the potential of this entire region.”

There is a growing need for improved transit between downtown Toronto, Guelph and Waterloo region.  Full-day GO bus service would establish a ridership pattern and address the immediate need for improved transit.

“Commuter travel to Waterloo region from the GTA has been steadily increasing since 2006,” said Ken Seiling, Regional Chair. “Two-way GO service and more trains daily between the GTA and Waterloo region is essential to helping our local companies recruit and keep the workers they need to continue to expand not only the region’s tech sector – which employs more than 33,000 people and is valued at $30 billion – but also our other key sectors including manufacturing, insurance, business and financial services.  The Region continues to work with Kitchener and Cambridge to improve GO services to our community.”

Canada’s Innovation Supercluster is renowned for private sector success in several economic sectors including finance and insurance, manufacturing, post-secondary and research, and, of course, technology.

“The growth in our region is impressive and connectivity to the GTA and the potential synergies that could occur would result in a globally significant supercluster, comparable to Silicon Valley,” stated Mayor Brenda Halloran, City of Waterloo. “The distance between San Francisco and San Jose is similar to the Toronto / Waterloo region corridor; even our populations are similar. Silicon Valley has successfully attracted talent by providing a balance between work opportunities and easy access to the urban lifestyle. Waterloo region and Toronto could easily provide the same.”


The business case “Innovative regional economies and strategic infrastructure:  the business case for two-way urban commuter rail on the CN North Mainline” was developed, researched and produced in collaboration between the City of Kitchener’s Economic Development division and the City of Waterloo, the City of Guelph, the Region of Waterloo and the following private sector partners:  Communitech, Google Canada, Desire2Learn, Open Text, Manulife and The Co-operators.

The document presents the case for extending the two-way GO Train service from Union Station and Brampton to Kitchener.  The business case contains a number of maps, cost-savings analysis, ridership estimates and development potential, and is organized in six sections:

  • Ontario’s economic growth opportunity
  • Building an innovation supercluster
  • Innovative cities in the Waterloo region to Toronto corridor
  • The geography of innovation
  • Proposed two-way GO Train service
  • Recommendations and conclusion

The recommendation: a 10-year capital allocation for rail infrastructure be established by the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada to support full two-way GO Train service on the Kitchener Line (CN North Mainline) in the 2014 Provincial and Federal capital budgets. Read the business case  here.

For more information

City of Kitchener
Laura Johnston, Director
Corporate Communications and Marketing
519-741-2200 extension 7935

City of Waterloo
Megan Harris, Director, Communications
Corporate Services

City of Guelph
Kate Sullivan, Communications Assistant
Office of the Mayor
519-822-1260 extension 2558

About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

View all posts by Karen Farbridge

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