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January 2010, 15 e-mails

January 5, 2010
From: Clean Train Coalition

Hello everyone and Happy New Year!

Below is a brief update on our continued advocacy work for the electrification of the Georgetown rail corridor.

The Current Status

As most of you are aware, Metrolinx’s proposal to expand rail service along the Georgetown Corridor was approved last October, subject to some conditions imposed by the Minister of the Environment. Briefly, those conditions require Metrolinx to use low-emissions, Tier 4 train technology “when commercially available” and they require Metrolinx to develop and implement a monitoring program to measure air quality adjacent to the corridor.

We can consider these two stipulations to be victories won as a result of all of our efforts. However the conditions do not go far enough, and they don’t address all of the other benefits of electrified service. First of all, Tier 4 technology is not currently available and there is no guarantee that it will be available by 2015 when expanded rail traffic is expected to begin. Secondly, while Metrolinx is required to develop an air quality monitoring program, that program does not include any mitigation measures; it will simply measure how poor air quality is becoming.

The Minister’s conditions confirm that there are serious adverse health impacts associated with Metrolinx’s plans to expand diesel train service. Yet they fall short of mitigating these impacts by mandating that the corridor be electrified which would result in zero emissions of toxic pollutants in neighbourhoods along the corridor. Electrified rail service is better for the environment and better for the communities of west Toronto. It is also the most prudent choice from an economic standpoint due to lower operating costs. Therefore the Clean Train Coalition encourages everyone to join us as we continue to advocate for electrified rail service along the Georgetown corridor. The quality of life in our region is at stake.

The Spin Continues

Many of you recently received an update from Metrolinx concerning the Georgetown South project. The Clean Train Coalition wants you to be aware that Metrolinx’s claims to have consulted community groups in drafting their air quality monitoring plan is highly misleading. The final draft of the plan was presented to a few members of the Clean Train Coalition and other community groups as a fait accompli and so therefore no real consultation took place.

Metrolinx has once again asked for input from the public – this time on their plans for an air quality monitoring program. We encourage you to submit your comments. The more comments they receive the harder it is for them to ignore the real issues.

Go to http://www.metrolinx.com/gsse/default.aspx to voice your concerns, and to tell them that you will not settle for anything other than electrified service.

Upcoming Milestones

With both provincial and federal Environmental Assessments approved, the next critical deadline for this project is the completion of the system-wide electrification study which is looking at the costs and benefits associated with electrifying GO’s entire network. The electrification study is due to report back in December 2010. We look forward to the completion of this study as it will no doubt recommend electric trains.

Even though we believe the study will recommend electrification, there is still much work to be done. We have to keep up public pressure to make our politicians understand that it is imperative that the study’s recommendations to electrify are implemented immediately upon its completion, and that no new diesel trains be purchased in the meantime.

The electrification of GO’s services has been studied numerous times. All of the previous studies have concluded that, while electric trains are vastly superior when it comes to the health of communities and the environment, they cost more upfront. And so the studies have been ignored, and each government has placed political expediency ahead of responsible environmental and economic planning. We need to make sure things are different this time.

When you are speaking with your neighbours, your city councillor, or any political candidates, tell them that we need a champion at the municipal and provincial level. We know that this is a provincial issue and we know that city council unanimously endorsed a motion to urge Metrolinx to electrify. But we also know that our municipal representatives could do more – they could be more vocal and really stand up for their constituents.

We have several other initiatives in the works including conducting our own economic/cost-benefit analysis and articulating our vision of vibrant and sustainable communities living adjacent to an electrified rail corridor. If you are interested in getting involved, you can email us at info@cleantrain.ca

We are winning this fight. Clean Transit is possible!

January 14, 2010
SRA wrote:

As a result of the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) December 9 ruling ordering GO Transit (Metrolinx) to modify its construction methods in the West Toronto Diamond Grade Separation Project, life has returned to normal in the communities along the tracks.

If GO has its way, however, the quiet will be shortlived.

GO is seeking to overturn the ruling.

The West Toronto Diamond project will separate Canadian Pacific Railway’s North Toronto freight line from GO's Georgetown line. The north-south tracks to and from Georgetown will be lowered so that they run under CPR’s North Toronto line. The work, which began in early 2009, requires the driving of 2,338 pipe piles.

The CTA ruling found that “prolonged exposure of the local citizens to the noise and vibration generated by the pile-driving activities at the project site is unreasonable given the nature of the area in which the construction is taking place and the failure by GO Transit to implement sufficient mitigative measures.”

On December 21, GO asked the CTA to review its decision and, while the review is taking place, stay the ruling. Then, on January 6, GO asked the Federal Court of Appeal for a stay of the CTA ruling and for leave to appeal the CTA ruling. The Federal Court of Appeal refused to hear the appeal while the matter was before the CTA.

As a result, GO has withdrawn its request to the CTA and is pursuing its appeal to the Federal Court of Appeal.

The neighbourhood wants GO to abide by the CTA decision and use responsible construction methods.

“We’re enjoying the normal community life we’re entitled to for the first time since the diesel-explosion pile drivers started work just about a year ago,” says Glenn Stalker, who complained to the CTA on behalf of the West Toronto Diamond community. “The CTA found that GO did not adequately consider impacts on the community. But GO Transit simply refuses to accept the ruling and to use the available technology that would allow them to get the job done without unreasonable noise and vibration. We think they’ll take this to the Supreme Court if they have to, just to avoid doing what we think is the right thing by the people.”

At a recent meeting with community representatives, Gerard Kennedy, MP, Parkdale High Park, said “the heart of the matter is whether or not communities can be protected – and who will protect them.

“Only the CTA can protect citizens – nothing else exists when it comes to the railroads. In this case, it’s done its job. Now GO is abusing the system by asking the federal court to set aside the CTA decision. This is not a true seeking of redress through the courts – it’s lawyerizing a process that’s meant to allow average people and communities the opportunity to seek fairness and pursue their natural right to peaceful enjoyment of their homes .”

David Baker, a widely-known social justice lawyer, has volunteered to provide the West Toronto Diamond Community Group with as much representation as he can pro bono.

January 18, 2010
SRA wrote:

On Friday, the Federal Court of Appeal heard an Interim Stay Motion. Metrolinx (GO) asked the court to allow them to ignore the Canadian Transportation Agency decision for now.

The decision will come by noon today. If the Interim Stay Motion is successful and piledriving begins again, it will be important to record and report on the impact on your well-being and quality of life.

There will be another Stay hearing on January 28.

Please forward any information you have on the impact of the piledriving on your life before Dec 21 when the piledriving essentially stopped.


SRA wrote:

The Honourable Justice Nadon of the Federal Court of Appeal today granted GO/Metrolinx an Interim Stay of the Canadian Transportation Agency ruling. The exception is that they must abide by the communications and monitoring elements of the ruling.

We will see what this means in practice in the next few days.

The Stay hearing -- as opposed to the Interim Stay -- is yet to come.

To help the community make its case before the court it will be very important for as many members of the community as possible to write a letter - signed and dated -- indicating their experiences and impacts of the piledriving before Dec 21 -- when it got quiet! Include health impacts, if you feel there have been any, and other relevant information. Please indicate what it's been like during the last four weeks without the piledriving.

Drop-off locations for your letters will be established in the next day or so.

January 20, 2010
C. S. wrote:

I am forwarding a press release that MPP DiNovo sent out today.

January 22, 2010
SRA wrote:

If you are able, please attend the hearing on GO's application for a stay of the CTA ruling on Jan 28.

The federal court of appeal will hear whether GO can go back to the diesel explosion pile drivers as before the Canadian Transportation Agency ruling in the community's favour.

It's been quiet for so many weeks! Here's a reminder of what it was like. www.piledriven.ca

GO's stay motion will be heard at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday January 28, 2010. It will be held at 180 Queen Street West, suite 200.

Please be there!

Thanks. West Toronto Diamond Community Group

January 25, 2010
From: Clean Train Coalition

1. RMRA - Roncey Rocks

Members of the Clean Train Coalition will be at Fern Public School participating in "Roncey Rocks," an event organized by the Roncesvalles-Macdonell Residents' Association (RMRA). Come on down and find out about our ongoing activities and check out all the other great organizations working to make Roncesvalles Village and other west-end neighbourhoods wonderful places to live.

Where: Fern Public School 128 Fern Ave [east of Roncey]

When: Tuesday, January 26, 7-9 pm

2. Piledriving Update and Call to Action

You may have heard that the Canadian Transportation Authority (CTA) ruled in favour of local residents in the Junction area, and found that GO's diesel piledriving was unreasonable. Following the ruling, Junction residents enjoyed a brief period of peace.

Unfortunately, that peace may be short-lived: GO is appealing the ruling, arguing that any delay would impact the timelines for the Georgetown South Expansion. The Georgetown Expansion's dependency on the piledriving is debatable, but residents' need for solidarity with their fellow residents is not. There are two things you can do:

i) Send an impact statement: Tell them how intolerable the piledriving has been.

Impact statements should be sent to or dropped off at:

Gerard Kennedy Constituency Office
2849 Dundas Street West
Toronto, Ontario
M6P 1Y6

  • The office is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday but there is a mail slot you can use outside those hours.

ii) Attend the hearing. A show of force will strengthen residents' chances of maintaining the CTA's injunction.

Where: Federal court, 180 Queen Street West, Suite 200

When: Thursday, January 28, 9:30 a.m.

3. Metrolinx Air Quality Monitoring

Metrolinx is still taking comments on their Air Quality Monitoring Program. Voice your concerns. Tell Metrolinx that you will not settle for anything other than electrified rail service!

Go to: http://www.metrolinx.com/gsse/default.aspx

When: Comments will be accepted until Jan 31, 2010.

4. Mario Silva at DIGIN

For residents of Davenport and the West Toronto Diamond, here's your chance to press Mario Silva on the rail expansion. We need the Federal Government to step up, and we need all our elected officials to do what we elected them to do: represent our interests.

Where: Wallace Emerson Community Centre (Ambrico Room)

When: Tuesday, February 9, 7 p.m.

January 22, 2010
SRA wrote:

If you are able, please attend the hearing on GO's application for a stay of the CTA ruling on Jan 28.

The federal court of appeal will hear whether GO can go back to the diesel explosion pile drivers as before the Canadian Transportation Agency ruling in the community's favour.

It's been quiet for so many weeks! Here's a reminder of what it was like. www.piledriven.ca

GO's stay motion will be heard at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday January 28, 2010. It will be held at 180 Queen Street West, suite 200.

Please be there!

January 28, 2010
SRA wrote:

We just returned from court (after buying our deserving pro bono lawyer lunch!).

The judge has indicated he will decide by next Wednesday.

First, thanks to everyone who wrote letters and impact statements. It made a difference.

Second, thanks to the 25 people who came down to the court to show support for our cause. That made a difference, too.

Third, everyone in the community would have been very proud of the way David Baker, represented the community and spoke to (1) the importance of upholding the decision of the Canadian Transportation Agency to make GO work to reduce noise and vibration and (2) the impact of months of piledriving on the community.

We all owe David a great debt of gratitude.

There is more ahead -- whatever the outcome of the Stay hearing, GO has asked the Federal Court to grant leave to appeal the CTA decision. This will be decided by three judges...there is no actual appearance by lawyers, the decision will be based on written submissions. I don't know the date yet.

We'll keep you informed.

West Toronto Diamond Community Group.

V. G. wrote:

Here's another update on Davenport Diamond grade separation project. What is this project about? In short, this project proposes to grade-separate the railway tracks that run between Campbell Ave. and Lansdowne, and the Tracks on the north side of our neighbourhood (between Dupont and Davenport ). This would involve creating a huge wall/overpass or trench east of Campbell Ave. , with the possibility closing Wallace Ave. Whatever the outcome of this project is, it will have a major impact on our neighbourhood.

It seems that not too much has changed since the last update from GO/Metrolinx on November 10 2009, except that:

  • GO/Metrolinx have purchased the entire Newmarket/Barrie railway corridor
  • The environmental assessment has been pushed back to 2012.

More info and the complete letter from GO/Metrolinx are posted here: http://www.junction triangle. ca/node/558

D. C. wrote:

Hi Tony,

Thanks for attending the December DIGIN meeting. Unfortunately many of us had wished you had been better informed about the railway expansion projects.

After the meeting, I understand you were forwarded research by one of the local residents to help you understand the issue. As well, below is an update on the Davenport Diamond grade separation project and a letter from Metrolinx.

As you know, the Davenport community as well as their neighbouring communities along the tracks are seriously concerned about this expansion and how it will negatively affect the communities.

Your constituents don't want to be polluted.

Your consituents don't want our communities cut in half by railway tracks.

Your constituents don't want their quality of life and their health adversely affected.

Your constituents do want a healthy economy, and that does not include investing in obsolete technology.

Please update your constituents on the progress you have been having on this initiative. Basically, we'd like to know how you've represented our concerns.

We look forward to hearing from you with some news on your progress.

January 29, 2010
Tony Ruprecht wrote:

Please find attached a Petition which I will present to the Legislature. A copy will go to the Minister of Transportation, Minister of the Environment and Metrolinx.

Please make as many copies as you want but, I need original signatures returned as the Legislature will only accept originals.

Once you have collected more than ten or more sheets please forward them to me.

Thank you for your cooperation.

SRA wrote:

An Update:

For those who were not able to attend the Federal Court of Appeal hearing -- GO / Metrolinx is asking for a Stay of the Canadian Transportation Agency Ruling that orders them to use quieter technology wherever possible, among other things -- here's an overview of what happened.

The Judge was the Honourable Justice Nadon. He is the judge who had already granted GO an Interim Stay.

GO Transit was represented by John Laskin and Ali Afshan of Torys LLP.

The West Toronto Diamond Community Group was represented by David Baker, of bakerlaw. David is working pro bono. He's a prominent social justice lawyer. He was assisted by two articling students, Nastaraj Roushan and Meryl Gary.

The City of Toronto supported the community and was represented by Graham J. Rempe.

GO argued mainly that they did not have fair opportunity to put their case before the CTA and on behalf of the community, David Baker argued that they had ample opportunity and that they knew the rules having been legally represented at the CTA.

GO argued that implementing the CTA decision would be prohibitively expensive and would delay the project in a harmful way. On behalf of the community, David Baker argued that GO has no evidence on which to predict either costs or delays because they do not have facts or a response from the subcontractor on which to base that assertion.

David Baker argued that a Stay will effectively nullify the CTA Ruling because of the lengthy process that would follow, assuming they were given leave to appeal the CTA Ruling. In other words, if a Stay is granted, the work would be finished before the CTA decision could be reviewed.

David Baker also argued that GO says it hasn't had fair opportunity to demonstrate why using the quieter technology is impossible but they haven't even tried to argue the most important CTA finding: that using the diesel explosion pile drivers produces unreasonable noise and vibration.

Finally, David Baker argued that

  1. GO already has the quieter equipment CTA mandated,
  2. the CTA Ruling is flexible and does allow GO to use diesel explosion pile drivers in situations where it can be demonstrated that no other technology can do the job,
  3. that there is no evidence on the impact of the CTA ruling on delays and costs and
  4. that GO's contract with the subcontractor allows for this kind of change.

The Hearing lasted more than four hours; more than 25 people from the community attended.

Hon Justice Nadon extended the Interim Stay until 6 p.m. Wed. and said he would make a decision by that time.

If you have questions, please post them to the list.

West Toronto Diamond Community Group

J wrote:

I sent these two brief considerations in the past few months, one to Cheri DiNovo and the other to Mr. J. Bradley. Particularly, the question I asked DiNovo I find baffling, regarding the apparent contradiction in the whole purpose of this project:

Dear Madam,

This brief note is to note an absolute contradiction in the declarations that GO transit and Metrolinx corporations are giving to the neighbours affected by the West Diamond project. In the recent issue of The Villager, a certain GO spokesman declares, as we have heard time and time again, that the completion of the West Diamond project will bring “less pollution and noise because of fewer idling trains…” and yet, the plans are to run about 300 diesel trains daily, which completely cancels out the ‘less noise and pollution’ concept because of the huge increase in the number of trains and the combustible used. Currently, there is not much noise, neither too much pollution, because there are not too many trains going by (I live in front of the passing trains so I know what I am talking about). Thus, one wonders what sort of game is this they are playing maintaining completely contradictory goals along the lines of ‘less idling and more diesel trains’, and whether this inconsistency in the future goals has been noticed by others, and if so, is that nobody cares? In the end, this whole business will end up in more noise and pollution, in the final analysis.

And the other:

Dear Mr. J. Bradley,

Just a few words regarding the inconveniences associated with the construction work of the ‘Go transit rail line project’ in West Toronto. I can only express my surprise at the origins of this problem, namely the initial permission that allowed them to work in the way it is being done. I am a scientist working at a hospital and the university, where we have to undergo strict scrutiny of all our experimental manipulations we plan to perform not only to volunteers in our experiments but also to animals in those experiments that involve the use of animals. If the procedures are considered not ethical, then these are not approved. That’s all. Thus I wonder what type of ethics was applied to whoever has approved this type of work in our neighbourhood, because it seems to me it is not ethical at all. To subject neighbours to months of continuous noise and vibrations, adding some noisy night work that started recently, seems to me not too ethical. Of course I am sure they will claim that careful study was done before the work started to assess noise level and this and that, and that it was found fine. I can only say that, if they really performed this assessment, it was totally flawed, considering the neighbours’ responses over the past weeks. I wish their ethical procedures were as strict as ours in the laboratory. I realise there are many interests involved from companies and institutions, but a balance should be applied to these industrial interests and those of the people living in the city. It seems to me that the balance is clearly displaced towards industrial support with certain disregard of the neighbouring communities that, after all, constitute the living town. If they have any decency left, they should at least compensate the neighbours, perhaps by reducing tax property next year…. just an idea.

January 31, 2010
J. W. wrote:

I think I can clear things up for you with one word: corruption. GO seems to operate a lot like the TTC in this regard, despite its government origins, it is a cash cow pure and simple.

On a related note it seems someone chose to use this forum to promote their ridiculous candidate in the mayoral race. This is completely inappropriate.

Content last modified on February 03, 2010, at 05:07 AM EST