Good morning Premier Wynne,
I am the Chair of the community group Options for Davenport, which has been very active in the Davenport community raising awareness about the planned Metrolinx rail overpass (known locally as the Gardiner for GO trains) in our neighbourhood. While our neighbourhood is very supportive of investing in public transit, and we welcome expansion in our community, we have serious reservations with the current overpass plans, particularly regarding noise, pollution, and safety concerns with an elevated expressway for trains running- at points, within mere metres- of local homes and businesses.
I understand that you met with Mayor Tory this week to discuss the City’s overwhelming 38-1 vote at council against the overpass plan. I hear that construction concerns with the tunnel option were discussed as a barrier to a tunnel, and wanted to clarify that Metrolinx’s own feasibility study highlighted that major roads (i.e. Dupont, Davernport and St Clair) would not be majorly impacted by tunneling. This appears to be a common point of misinformation, as it was also raised in a recent meeting I had with our MPP Cristina Martins, and I wanted to clarify this point. I have attached the page from the report here for reference on this point.
Furthermore, I wanted to highlight an issue that was raised in a recent letter to the editor by a member of the Junction Triangle Rail Committee, another local residents group that has been active on this issue, questioning the cost argument of why an overpass must be built. (See the letter here: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editors/2015/12/15/ridership-numbers-revealing.html.) Given the relatively low ridership on the Barrie line compared to local TTC bus routes, the numbers don’t appear to add up as to why at least $140 million should be invested in this particular project, when the main reason is to eliminate potential delays at the level crossing. There seems to be a frequent misconception that more trains cannot run until an overpass is built, but that is simply not the case. Especially given the dismal ridership on the UPX (also in our neighbourhood) and what seems to have been a huge waste of taxpayers’ money on building that project, it seems unconscionable that Metrolinx would invest in another project with such shaky ridership projections- particularly when the infrastructure itself will be so damaging to the local community.
I have attached a letter that I submitted to Mayor Tory in advance of City Council’s meeting last week, outlining some of our community’s specific concerns; it was one of over 40 submissions to Council on this issue, a vast majority of which echo the very same concerns as my letter. As a community we were thrilled to have the support of the City on this issue, but are worried that our very real concerns are not being heard at the provincial level, where the power on this decision ultimately lies.
I would be happy to bring you for a walk through our neighbourhood to see for yourself where the proposed overpass is planned to be built. I think you will find it shocking yourself once you see it in person.
I thank you for your careful consideration of this matter.
With best wishes,
Chair of Options for Davenport