There's something to be said about leaving a legacy.
And while the long-term legacy of ION service in Waterloo Region has yet to be written --- what with all the development still to come --- the impacts are far reaching already.
Looking at the numbers, some will criticize if there will be enough of a ridership, others question the cost of the project --- which sits at about $868-million dollars at the moment --- but the key to ION's success may not hinge on any of that at all.
"As long as the region keeps growing, and there's no signs that it's going to slow down, and as long as the economy remains strong and robust, then you will continue to see intensive developments along the LRT line," says Brian Doucet, who is Canada Research Chair in the University of Waterloo's School of Planning.
He pointed to the re-development of parking lots and lower density buildings into condominiums, which he expects we'll see more of in the future, but admits not everyone will benefit from it.
It's not just residential development either.
Doucet states it might be a "mall-to-mall" train between Conestoga Mall in Waterloo and Fairview Mall in Kitchener, but it also services many other important places in between.
"It serves the two downtowns --- Downtown Kitchener and Uptown Waterloo --- it serves the major hospital, it serves the two universities," he said.
"It actually does a very good job of connecting a lot of key destinations within the region, probably the main destinations within Kitchener and Waterloo...it connects many places of employment, places where there's a lot of cultural activities, where there's a growing retail, restaurant and entertainment scene in both downtown and uptown, as well as neighbourhoods that are increasingly becoming popular."
On top of the Phase 2 development through Cambridge, Doucet says there have been discussions on whether the region will need some cross-town lines running.
"If the regional airport gets developed, do we need to think about a line out there," he queried, "It will depend on if there's funding available for it, but I can see the system growing over time."
KW Chamber of Commerce President Ian McLean alluded to the commercial sector during last Sunday's edition of "Business to Business" on 570 NEWS.
"I think the opportunity for a tremendously vibrant retail sector along the LRT is a very real one," he said, adding the possibilities and opportunities are endless for what ION will mean to the region.
"We've always said part of this development is not for people that necessarily live here now, it's for the next 150,000 people that live here over the next 20 to 30 years."
Co-host and President of the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce Greg Durocher says "we haven't even scratched the surface on the economic value that this is going to bring to the Region of Waterloo."
If you want to put a number on it, though, development along the line is already valued at around $3-billion dollars.
"(The development is) going to attract people down to (the ION), and that's where you're going to get your ridership from," Durocher added.
With files from various 570 NEWS staff.
THIS IS THE FOURTH OF A FIVE-PART SERIES, TITLED "EYE ON THE ION," TAKING A LOOK BACK AT THE HISTORY, THE DISCUSSIONS, THE MEETINGS AND ALL LEADING TO FRIDAY'S LAUNCH OF ION SERVICE IN WATERLOO REGION ON JUNE 21.