“The crucial question for Cambridge right now is because we are not getting the LRT that we should not be paying (for it),” says veteran Cambridge Mayor Doug Craig when asked about the transit debate at regional council.
“I think area rating a portion of the service won’t fly. It is a dangerous debate for Cambridge to have,” replies Regional Chairman Ken Seiling as he faces the reality that our Mayor isn’t about to accept the $1.6 billion LRT plan – and its impact on local taxpayers – “without a fight.”
In a recent interview with The Citizen, the Mayor was asked to state his case and perspective in the matter of the growing conversation about whether Cambridge should be involved in paying for a transit system (LRT) that will not extend into the city for years to come, or as the Mayor says “if ever.”
“The regional breakdown of votes leaves Cambridge with only three votes out of sixteen. KW has 8, the townships 4, and there is the Regional Chair. What has happened in the past is that except for Mayor Halloran (Waterloo), KW has voted along with the townships (except North Dumfries Mayor Deutschmann who has a conflict) and the Regional Chair in favour of the LRT. So the vote right now is eleven to three in favour,” said Craig, pointing out that we aren’t getting the LRT and therefore should not be paying for it.
“I will be bringing that question to the attention of the Regional Council in a series of motions,” Craig added.
Chairman Seiling has heard Mayor Craig’s arguments before and suggests that, if Craig is to pursue these debating angles further at the regional council table, the results likely will be very damaging for the relationship between the region and the city.
Seiling said that Cambridge receives a disproportionate share of many of the regional services provided. When asked to elaborate as to what that list would include, the Regional Chair said, “all social services and housing, sewage treatment plants, GRT bussing and infrastructure – all subsidized by the other municipalities in the Region in favour of benefiting Cambridge.”
Seiling went on to argue that the region is doing what it can to support each of the constituent municipalities. He talked about a new iExpress route serving the Maple Grove industrial area in Cambridge coming online in 2014, along with the future industrial growth strategy for the region heavily favouring the development of north Cambridge industrial areas, as a priority.
“In addition, the region advanced Cambridge hospital funding up front, which is something we didn’t do for the northern hospitals,” Seiling added. He was clear in his disdain for the “victim Cambridge” mentality that often gets vocalized around election time, where Cambridge unfairly paints itself as a weaker sister in the region, and thus the city rallies around an unnecessary common enemy in the region. “I don’t buy it,” says Seiling, pointing out project after project that the region does in Cambridge.
Both Seiling, who has already registered to run again in the fall, and Craig, who will register in the Spring but says “yes, I will be running” are heading into the fall elections as heavy favourites to win their jobs jobs as Council leaders.
When asked about priorities heading into the election, Craig replied, “When I register, I will list my priorities in full at that time. Suffice it to say at this time, that I will be advocating for such things as GO train service to Cambridge, and I will be opposing payments to the LRT which we can ill afford and which Cambridge won’t be getting for the foreseeable future.”
Tags: Cambridge Mayor Doug Craig, Chairman Seiling, GO, GRT, KW, LRT, Maple Grove, Mayor Craig, new, North Dumfries Mayor Deutschmann, Regional Chair Ken Seiling, Regional Chairman Ken Seiling, Regional Council, something, The Citizen