Thalmic’s Stephen Lake says poor transit major issue for Ontario startups


While the Ontario government is promising two-way all-day Go Train service between the startup-heavy regions of Toronto and Kitchener-Waterloo, for Thalmic Labs CEO Stephen Lake, that doesn’t go far, or fast, enough.

Lake, who sits on the board of directors at Communitech, said that he’s been working on behalf of startups to bring the issue of transportation to the forefront of the political sphere. “With the government, I think their hearts are in the right places all across the board,” Lake said.

The problem, Lake said, is that the 10-year plan promises all-day GO train service between Kitchener and Toronto—a trip that is four hours in total. While service is important, speed also needs to be a factor.

In a report from Startup Compass, the ‘need to integrate Toronto and Waterloo as a larger ecosystem’ was identified as key to helping startups in these regions become globally competitive.

“We need to shoot for something that is 30 minutes each way, which is completely doable as a 90-kilometre trip,” said Lake. “Any modern rail system in China, Japan, and Europe can easily achieve those speeds. It’s just bringing something that countries had years ago. In Canada, we’re decades behind.”

And because of our outdated transit, it’s created a major barrier to companies scaling up, as it’s difficult to keep commuting top talent in both communities motivated. “You can’t have a place going four hours each way as an incentive,” Lake said.

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang

Freelance tech writer. Former BetaKit News Editor.

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