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Waterloo Region wants to be on the federal government's radar screen

Waterloo Region wants to be on the federal government's radar screen

Posted by PanamericanWorld on December 14, 2016

There's a lot of truth in the old saying that who you know matters more than what you know.

And it's especially true when who you know the prime minister of Canada — someone with the political clout and public cash to get big things done.

This explains why five of Waterloo Region's municipal leaders made a smart move when they flew to Ottawa and met with Justin Trudeau last week.

The gathering with the PM was, to be sure, very brief, although the politicians had more substantial talks with cabinet ministers and Gov. Gen. David Johnston.

But while there were no big announcements or cheques passing hands, the trip to Ottawa by the regional chair, the mayors of Kitchener, Waterloo and Woolwich Township as well as Cambridge's acting mayor accomplished much.

It more firmly planted Waterloo Region on the federal government's radar screen.

It clearly told Ottawa what this region needs in terms of future government support.

And it showed that the region is more than the sum of its municipal parts — three cities and four townships. There is a single, unified regional community that can speak with one voice and deserves more national recognition as an emerging engine of the Canadian economy.

The region is already being touted as a vital part of the Toronto-Waterloo Region Corridor, a 112-kilometre stretch of southern Ontario that is North America's second largest technology cluster after California's Silicon Valley.

Within the Toronto-Waterloo Region Corridor there are 200,000 tech workers, 15,000 tech companies and 5,200 tech startups. Waterloo Region alone has the second highest density of startups in the world.

As the Trudeau government struggles to diversify the Canadian economy and lessen our reliance on oil and other natural resources, it must focus time and energy on this dynamic part of Ontario.

But the Toronto-Waterloo Region Corridor remains a work in progress. To get beyond the planning stage, governments need to invest billions in better infrastructure. Local politicians repeated that message in Ottawa.

Commuter rail links between the region and Toronto are, to be blunt, limited. There are few trips each day and the 100-kilometre journey by rail takes more than two hours. Even that snail's pace is better than what often faces commuters on Highway 401 which, depending on the time of day, is often more of a parking lot than thoroughfare.

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