I’ve released an open letter to the community regarding the Metrolinx Davenport Diamond super bridge project. I invite you to read it below:
There is no question that we must build much more public transit in our city; transit that is affordable, clean and accessible. For too long however, our community has had to bear the brunt of transit expansion that runs right through our neighbourhoods that is neither clean, nor affordable or accessible to most of our residents. I know I’m not the only one living in this community who has become increasingly frustrated with the way in which Metrolinx and the provincial Liberal government continues to foist projects on our community that have few direct benefits for us.
Which brings me to the Davenport Diamond “Super Bridge” proposal; the Liberals’ plan to elevate 2 kilometers of the GO Train line that runs parallel with Lansdowne, between Bloor and St. Clair. I have sat in on several community meetings on this proposal and what I hear continually is that community members are concerned. They are not happy with the fact that the decision to build the bridge in the first place was presented to them as a done deal. Consultations that happen after decisions are made are not true consultations. There is widespread concern over the lack of concrete commitments for community benefits such as new parks and greenspace, multi-modal transportation connections or new community linkages, and the fact that no dollars have been guaranteed for creating any community benefits. Indeed, there are many questions being asked as to how such an imposing piece of infrastructure will impact on the community’s quality of life.
I’d like to take the opportunity here to commend and thank all of the residents and organizations who have dedicated countless volunteer hours to this and so many other issues important to our community, including the Davenport Village Community Association, DIGIN, the Bloordale Community Improvement Association, the Options for Davenport Diamond Committee, and the Junction Triangle Rail Committee and many others. I’d also like to thank everyone who volunteered to sit on the Residents’ Reference Panel.
I have said from the outset that my role in this issue is to advocate on behalf of our community, to ensure that its concerns are heard and that residents get the information they need about this project.
It’s time to haul these decisions into the light of day.
Since we are being told we are going to live through years of construction, and then a lifetime of increased rail traffic, doesn’t our community deserves access to this train? I think so. We deserve to have stops from which we can access this train to go downtown, to the Bloor subway line, north to the Eglinton Crosstown and beyond. Increased access to public transit would be an incredibly important social and economic benefit for our community. Furthermore, in order to have any real discussion of what may be built under this bridge we have to know how much money the government will provide. So far we have no idea. We are happy to hear Metrolinx officials say that expanded service on the Barrie line will not proceed until electrification is complete. Let’s see that in writing. Finally, and this should go without saying, nobody wants an ugly bridge. If the province is insistent on this project then we want to see the best looking bridge ever built.
Our community is dominated by train tracks, many of which also host commercial freight operations in addition to public transit service. Private railways that provide commercial shipping are regulated by the federal government. The Super Bridge is being constructed to elevate GO Trains over the Canadian Pacific freight line. While decisions regarding this project rest largely with the provincial government, I have written to the federal Minister for Transportation, Lisa Raitt, as to the extent of the federal government’s involvement in this process. I will publish her response once it’s received.
I have fought hard and continue to fight alongside my community for electrification of the UP Express and the GO Transit Barrie line. We have all worked tirelessly on these issues and it is only because of that collective work that electrification of the UP Express and a stop that connects directly to the Bloor/Danforth subway line is even being discussed, let alone promised. What we have already accomplished and future victories will only come through hard work and active, public pressure.
We need to change the way government works with our community. Instead of sending officials to our community to give us the government line, it is time the government hears us! Ours is a wonderful place to live and work and we are excited to see our community thrive and grow. We want and need more public transit, but we want a transparent process. This isn’t just a political issue for me. I live here too. My family and I use public transit daily. My children breathe this air. I’m proud of my leader Tom Mulcair’s commitment to be the reliable federal partner this city needs to build better transit. That’s why the NDP has proposed close to $4 billion a year in stable, predictable long term funding for public transit and infrastructure. By continuing to work together we can build transit our community deserves and our city needs.
As always, if you have any comments, questions, or concerns, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at 416-654-8048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
MP for Davenport
Image credit to Metrolinx