Ontario is right on track with LRT investments

lrt_CTL_GroupIt seems Ontario has really gotten on board with light rail transit (LRT), taking a page from the successful LRT systems that already exist in Europe and elsewhere in the world.

With projects already underway in Toronto and $1-billion commitments for LRT in other major urban centres, including Hamilton and Brampton, it seems things are finally moving as far as much-needed transit options in the province are concerned.

While this will, no doubt, be positive for all residents and municipalities involved, as well as create jobs, it also presents a number of opportunities for investors. Take, for example, an LRT project in Portland, Oregon, that garnered a huge response from developers. According to at least one source, the development value has been as high as $11.5 billion near the transit stations.

Just last year, a provincial minister said that LRT promises the highest return on investment, much higher than bus rapid transit, due to the interest from developers near the permanent lines. The minister at the time, Glen Murray, also pointed to Portland as a success story and said the city was in serious decline before the line was constructed. He explained that thanks to the light rail project, Portland now has the highest gross domestic product on the West Coast of the United States.

Think of the possibilities for LRT stations in Ontario — not only will people want to move to homes (that may not exist yet) along the line but also, from a commercial investment standpoint, one could attract a lot of attention by building within a couple of blocks of the line. In areas that are economically depressed, having a transit stop in the area is a great reason for people to start shopping there if there’s commercial investment. For existing commercial spaces, it’s a great chance to revitalize the property, attract new tenants and take advantage of the influx of transit riders looking for quality goods and services.

With the shifting attitudes of the younger generations toward sustainability, creating office space along LRT lines will surely attract trendy design studios and the tech sector as more and more young people ditch cars in favour of transit. It’s also a very convenient way for seniors to get to their destinations without worrying about traffic or parking limitations.

In short, Ontario’s investment in light rail will mean investment opportunities for commercial and residential developers.