Ontario, through it's regional transit agency Metrolinx, is expanding the Barrie GO rail line that runs through the western part of Davenport. That expansion will include the construction of a major rail bridge, called a guideway, over the existing CP Rail tracks, between approximately Bloor Street and Davenport Road west of Lansdowne Avenue.
Our community has been active on this project since it was first announced, and through the hard work of individuals and local advocacy group Options for Davenport, were able to secure a number of community benefits including public realm enhancements to run beneath the raised bridge and a local GO station at Landsdowne avenue.
As Davenport's MPP, I have been pushing the provincial government to ensure that project provides maximum benefit for our community, which stands to be significantly impacted by construction and increased rail traffic. That includes ensuring that the promised community benefits are maintained, and that the agency keeps regular, open dialogue with our community throughout the construction process.
I have also been working to keep the issue of GO electrification front and centre as this expansion takes place. The former Liberal government promised electrification by 2017, yet our community is still waiting. With the increased traffic from all-day, two-way GO expansion, it is essential that the transition to electric trains happen without further delay. Not only is it an issue of healthy air, it is also a local climate issue that must be addressed. In June, Toronto's NDP MPPs wrote to the Minister of Transportation to confirm that his government remains committed to electrification of the GO network. Read the letter here.
Following a meeting with Metrolinx representatives in early 2019, I wrote to the agency's CEO to seek assurances that public realm components would be maintained and to ask for a community meeting prior to construction:
On August 20, 2019 I wrote to the Minister of Transportation to highlight our community's concerns about the status of the public realm components of this project as well as to invite her to visit the site of this major infrastructure project as work is set to begin.
In September 2019, a public art mural meant to wrap around the project was quietly canceled in order to cut costs. A community meeting and update on the project was promised for late summer or early fall but still had not occurred by November.
I raised the issue in the Legislative Assembly on November 5, calling on Metrolinx and the Ford government to re-engage the community as construction gets set to begin. Watch the video here:
Metrolinx Community Information Meeting
On November 20, Metrolinx held an open house to share information about the updated construction timeline. Information was presented on poster-boards and staff were on hand to answer questions.
Further public information on the project, including updated construction timelines, can be found on the Metrolinx website.
I will continue to fight to make sure that this major transit expansion through the heart of our neighbourhoods benefits the people who live here.
I welcome your feedback, ideas and inquiries on this project as work gets underway.
Email me at MStiles-CO@ndp.on.ca or call my office at 416-535-3158.