Donning facemasks and asking those in attendance to physically distance and use hand sanitizers provided, a number of local, provincial, and federal dignitaries gathered for an announcement on Monday, Aug. 10, 2020.
Despite the light rainfall, Mayor Bryan Paterson, MP Mark Gerretsen, MPP Ian Arthur, and Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities came together in Springer Market Square and were joined by Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure, Laurie Scott, via video feed for a large, tri-government funding announcement regarding both public transportation and active transportation infrastructure. The combined funding announced totals over $47 million, according to the City of Kingston.
Citing the need for Ontarians to receive help in getting safely to and from work, appointments, and other essential business, the federal government said that Strategic investments in sustainable public transportation infrastructure will play a key role. To that end, the Government of Canada approved eight new public transit and active transportation projects in Kingston.
“Investing in modern and accessible public transportation systems allows Canadians to get around in faster, cheaper and cleaner ways. The investment in an expanded network of cycling lanes, multi-use paths, and new buses will improve the quality of lives for residents, get cars off the road and help make Kingston’s transit system more sustainable,” Minister McKenna said in a statement. “Canada’s infrastructure plan invests in thousands of projects, creates jobs across the country and builds stronger communities.”
In total, the investments – over $17 million from the federal government, nearly $14.5 million from the provincial government, and more than $16 million from the City of Kingston – will fund the eight projects. Several of these projects involve the construction of “new and enhanced pedestrian and cycling infrastructure in the East-West corridor of the city that will make it safer and easier for residents to commute to their destinations or to directly access public transit,” the City said in a press release. One example of such projects is the redesign and construction of the intersection of Montreal Street at John Counter Boulevard, which will include multi-use pathways, new sidewalk, and buffered bike lanes. The City also pointed to new transit-exclusive passenger drop-off lanes designed to enable pedestrians to access the transit system more safely and efficiently.
“The projects announced today will provide Kingston residents with more alternatives for getting where they need to go safely and affordably. Investing in modern and integrated public transit systems and active transportation is essential for building healthier, more sustainable communities of tomorrow,” said MP Gerretsen. “This is a great example of how we are working with our partners to build stronger, more resilient infrastructure that will serve our community now and in the future.”
Additionally, the funding will allow for the addition of a new, long-range battery electric bus and the associated battery charging equipment.
“This is an exciting day for transit riders and residents in Kingston. These projects will provide residents with more access to public transit, connecting people to jobs safely and efficiently. With today’s announcement, these eight projects can move from shovel-ready to shovels moving,” Minister Scott said.
On top of the new electric bus, six more conventional buses will be added to the Kingston Transit fleet, allowing the Kingston to increase transit service levels, “improving the reliability and quality of the public transit system while reducing emissions,” according to the City.
“Kingston has made strategic investments in active transportation and has seen unprecedented growth in transit ridership over the last few years. COVID-19 has definitely impacted our recent progress but as people start to return to some of their pre-pandemic routines, I believe there are even more opportunities to accelerate our active transportation goals,” Mayor Paterson said. “This funding will be very helpful as we get back on track and work to build a community where the most convenient option is active transportation.”
The City of Kingston also announced that changes are coming to the current Kingston Transit services, which have been altered during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Kingston Transit is in the process of planning for upcoming changes,” said Jeremy DaCosta, Director of Transit Services for the City of Kingston. “Beginning August 31, riders can expect to see increased service, front-door boarding, and fare collection. More information about these changes will be available by August 17.”