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Citizen-Z Cavan Young's 2004 film about the zamboni crisis





March 2011, 1 e-mail

March 22, 2011
M. S.

Dear Neighbours,

We in the WCC thought it was time you learned of the developments surrounding the Air Rail Link / GO project which will dominate our neighbourhood for the next 4 years, in terms of construction, and for the next 100-200 years in terms of infrastructure.

First let's clarify some misconceptions about the project in Weston.

The Tunnel

The 'tunnel' through Weston will start downward at Lawrence and be back up before Weston Road. Trains will be completely underground between Church and King. The Tunnel will contain 4 of the 6 tracks. The other two tracks (the easternmost, CP tracks) will not be in the tunnel, and signalled road crossings with the tracks will remain at Church and King.

The concrete lid of the tunnel between Church and King will be community space. Metrolinx and the Catholic School Board are discussing making the centre portion the school yard of St. John the Evangelist school. This would have the advantage of keeping the school in its present location.

The tunnel will not be power vented - so it cannot be longer than 999 feet, exactly the distance between King and Church. As the trains emerge at either end, the walls of the tunnel will rise out of the ground and be horizontally supported by concrete ribs over the trains.

The tunnel will also need protection from derailments on the CP tracks. So a concrete crash barrier wall will be built between the CP tracks and the covered portion of the tunnel.

Neither the above ground walls, nor the ribs nor the crash barrier wall were part of the Environmental Assessment, so if you attended the three open houses, you did not see any pictorial representations of these elements. Metrolinx has created a community advisory group to discuss issues with the tunnel elements. So far they have made it clear we cannot change any of the structural elements. Although it's technically possible to avoid having walls rise out of the ground with ribs, Metrolinx does not feel it has time to do so before the Pan Am Games.

The John St. Bridge

When the tunnel is completed, the GO side trains will only be 1/2 way out of the ground at John St. So John St. will close and a pedestrian bridge will be erected. The bridge will only span the GO side. It will not be over the CP tracks. Pedestrians will exit the bridge between the two sets of tracks, and if a CP freight is coming, will have to wait there to continue across. Metrolinx has begun discussions with a community advisory committee, however that committee will only have the ability to advise on esthetic design issues. Metrolinx will make all final decisions.

The Weston GO Station

The station at its current location will close. A temporary facility will be built south of Lawrence Ave. Access will be from Weston Road for vehicles and pedestrians, and from pedestrian ramps built along both the north and south sides of Lawrence to track level. The ramps will be eastbound from Lawrence at about South Station Road. Once at the station, patrons will use a tunnel under the tracks to access the other side platform, as the Northbound and Southbound trains will be on separate sides of the tracks. There is no plan for pedestrian access from the new bridge at John St. Pedestrians will have to use Rosemount/Ralph and proceed under the tracks along Lawrence to about South Station and backtrack up the ramp.

Metrolinx advises that a 'Station Master Plan' will be designed at some point in the future. Metrolinx has steadfastly refused to consider this station to be a 'mobility hub' as defined in the 'Big Move'. Metrolinx has now hinted that the future of the station will depend on increased ridership. Metrolinx points out that only 5% of the Georgetown passengers currently use GO to and from Weston.

Noise and Vibration

Metrolinx is conducting another noise and vibration study. This is partly because the design has changed and the walls with ribs and the crash barrier wall were not part of the EA. We have asked whether they couldn't install the sound barrier walls planned in the EA as protection for the neighbourhood against the noise of construction. Metrolinx refuses to consider this as they don't want the walls to be damaged during construction.

Denison Road

Metrolinx plans to take Denison out of commission for at least a year while they construct a full tunnel under all the tracks (CP and GO). Properties have been acquired on the north side of Denison and at the end of Sam Frustaglio which is where the tunnel will be. Denison will become a dead end road on the west side of the tracks for access to the properties on the south side of Denison.

Electric Trains and the Air Rail Link (ARL)

Metrolinx completed the $4 Million Electrification Study, which recommended that due to travel time savings primarily, not health or pollution concerns, that the Georgetown and Lakeshore lines be electrified immediately starting with the Air Rail Link. However, proceeding with electrification will require Provincial approval, which has not happened. The only thing approved is to conduct another environmental assessment to determine where the wires and transformers should go.

According to Metrolinx's study, electrification will take 22 years, so Metrolinx intends to purchase diesel trains in the meantime, and has placed the order with Sumitomo of Japan for the Air Rail Link vehicles. Diesel vehicles will actually pollute more (oxides of Nitrogen) than the cars they take off the road. This is in part because so few passengers will take the Air Rail Link, driven in part by the fact this is a 'premium' business class service, with fares 'competitive' with taxis ($53) and limos ($58), and in part by the fact that only a small number of the total passengers at Pearson want or need to go to downtown Toronto. Metrolinx would rather electrify first, but the premier has ordered them to get the trains running in time for the Pan Am Games, and Metrolinx does not believe it could electrify in time. Other countries can, and previous studies for GO showed the much longer Lakeshore line could be done in much less time.

Taxpayer Burden

The rail infrastructure cost for both GO expansion and the ARL is 885 million dollars. GO admitted to us years ago, that it did not need the extra tracks nor road closures in Weston, but for the ARL. In addition, now that the private partner has backed out, the province will pay the $300 Million extra to put rails between the GO line and the airport, and build stations at either end. It is also spending $53 Million to buy diesel (convertible to electric at an unknown cost in the future) railcars for the ARL. Finally they have asked for an extra $400 Million to lay down an extra 4th track which will allow them to move trains around while they electrify in the future. While that track was listed as a 'future optional track' in the EA, GO admitted it would never run the number of trains that would need a 4th track.

Electrification will be much more difficult once 140 ARL trains are running 19 hours each day. The cost to electrify the ARL itself will be approx $400 million. Tier 4 Diesel Trains

The Minister of the Environment's order to GO was to run only Tier 4 (cleaner) Trains starting in 2015. 'or when commerically available'. GO has advised that it does not intend to buy tier 4 trains in 2015 (they will be commercially available), but instead will retrofit it's existing fleet to Tier 4 at its normal rebuild time, which starts in 2017. Thus we can expect older Tier 2 trains in Weston for some considerable time to come. The ministry's office has said GO's plan is ok.

Who should we call?

The premier, first and foremost. He is openly bragging that he will deliver this service in time for the Pan Am Games, in spite of the extra costs, and in spite of the extra pollution that diesel will bring.


Province of Ontario, Rm 281,

Legislative Building, Queens Park

Toronto ON M7A 1A1

(416) 325-1941 Fax: 416-325-3745

Your MPP, Laura Albanese. She passed a 'motion' at Queen's Park, calling on the government to electrify in time for Pan Am, but it has been ignored by 'her' government.


York South--Weston

Unit 102 - 2301 Keele St

Toronto ON M6M 3Z9

(416) 243-7984 Fax: (416) 243-0327

Your Mayor, Rob Ford. This service is a prime example of bad planning. We are spending nearly $2 Billion to build a train that will go through transit-starved priority neighbourhoods, which no one in those neighbourhoods will be able to afford. It will stop only in two places, and whiz by every 7.5 minutes. That's nearly $800 for every man, woman and child in Toronto, to build a train that will be used by 5000 passengers each day. A streetcar carries 5000 each hour.


Toronto City Hall, 2 Fl,

100 Queen St. West, Toronto, On M5H 2N2

(416) 397-3673 Fax:416-696-3687

Content last modified on March 25, 2011, at 05:38 PM EST