Communities building rapid transit can learn from each otherNew report highlights best practices in stakeholder engagement and land use planning for rapid transit projects

March 15, 2017

Photo: City of Mississauga

TORONTO — Most opponents to new light rail projects in Ontario aren’t opposed to rapid transit in general, but actually take issue with the process and how decisions are made.  Best practices like engaging early, being transparent, and working closely with developers and landowners can go a long way to making a project more likely to succeed, finds a new report by the Pembina Institute.

Getting on Board: learning from planning and engagement around rapid transit projects in Ontario, produced in collaboration with Evergreen, studies four rapid transit projects in varying stages of development: Hamilton Rapid Transit, Hurontario Light Rail Transit, Waterloo ION and the Ottawa Confederation Line.

Through interviews with transit planning teams, city staff, councillors, and community and business leaders, the report highlights key challenges and success factors found in all four case studies. Ontario’s urban areas are facing considerable population growth, making smart transit and land use planning to support this growth — while avoiding sprawl — critically important. Municipalities creating transit and land use plans can learn from the findings of this report, and bring the many benefits of effective rapid transit to their communities.

Quick facts

  • By 2041, the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) anticipates a population of 13.5 million people and 6.3 million jobs in the region
  • Provincial, federal and municipal governments have collectively committed billions in capital funding in recent years to build new rapid transit
    • The current roll-out of rapid transit infrastructure in Ontario is one of the biggest infrastructure builds in the province’s history
    • The four projects studied in this report will result in over 100 km of rapid transit


“We found that transit teams and municipalities had the most success when they sought early input, communicated the big picture and worked with local leaders. Rapid transit projects can have enormous local benefits by providing more transportation options, helping relieve congestion and encouraging new investment in the community, so it’s critically important that we get it right.”
— Lindsay Wiginton, analyst, Pembina Institute

“This report demonstrates the importance of local relationships and shows how they truly underpin the success of transit projects. Only through multi-sectoral collaboration, can we build the transportation network that Ontario needs.”
— Michelle German, senior manager, policy and partnerships, Evergreen


View Getting on Board.


Kelly O’Connor
Communications Lead, Pembina Institute


Report: Close to home (March 2016)

Report: Are we there yet? (August 2016)


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