People living near the Davenport Diamond rail crossing have stepped up their campaign to get Metrolinx to consider options other than a proposed overpass intended to increase rail traffic through the neighbourhood.
Last spring Metrolinx announced its intentions to build an elevated structure of more than 1.4-kilometres in length in order to increase the frequency of GO trains along its north-south Barrie line, which currently crosses CP tracks north of Dupont Street. The provincial transportation authority dismissed the possibility of a trench or tunnel, which it said would be more expensive, and initially reached out to residents to consult on mitigating the impact of the overpass with community projects and recreational facilities.
Twice this year, the City of Toronto asked that the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP), difficult to change once underway, be delayed until the spring so city planners could more closely examine the proposal. In October, Metrolinx agreed to the delay but backtracked on November 12 when Bruce McCuaig, president and chief executive officer at Metrolinx, sent the city a letter saying the TPAP needed to start in January, “citing any postponement beyond January would result in delays to increase transit service and electrify the corridor within the 10-year program established by the Province of Ontario,” states a city backgrounder
“City staff have reviewed a number of Metrolinx documents and received additional information on the assessment of alternative solutions to the grade separation, including the trench and tunnel options,” states a November 16 city report. “Based on the information provided to date, city staff have determined the tunnel option, on balance, represents greater long term city-building benefits compared to the overpass option. The key benefit of the tunnel is the removal of visual and noise impacts compared to the overpass, and the translation of these benefits into positive long term societal impacts. However, additional time is required in advance of commencing the TPAP process to continue this assessment, and to work with the local community to achieve a balanced solution.”
In the meantime, more than 700 residents have signed a petition and put up yard signs protesting the overpass, which they describe as a “Gardiner for Go Trains.”
“Dozens of volunteers went door to door this weekend, distributing signs, collecting signatures for our petition and spreading the word about what Metrolinx is trying to do here,” Laura Zeglen, chair of the group Options for Davenport, said in a news release this week. “What is extremely troubling is the number of people we meet who had no idea about the overpass plan—or who had been told it was already a done deal.”
Zeglen says the group is not against increasing rail capacity in the GTA. “Expanding transit is important, but so are communities. One shouldn’t have to suffer at the expense of the other.”
City Council is expected to review the issue soon.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Sources: Laura Zeglen, City of Toronto