What's Coming Down the Tracks?
A message from Ricardo Mashregi, former Chair of GARA and Core Member of Keep York Moving
You may recall that two years ago concerns were raised about a proposal, called "The Missing Link”, which came from the Town of Milton and was supported by the cities of Mississauga and Cambridge. Their goal was to increase GO train service for their commuters traveling to and from Toronto’s Union Station along the GO Milton line. However, an unfortunate result of their proposal would have been an increase in the number of CP freight trains travelling through Vaughan and Markham on tracks that run beside our local schools, behind our homes and near our neighbourhood parks.
As you can imagine, our affected communities were not in favour. The Grandview Area Residents Association (GARA) in Markham, and the SpringFarm Ratepayers (SPRA) in Vaughan, worked together to ensure that community leaders, City councillors, residents, and our provincial and federal members of parliament were all aware of this issue and would not support any local increase in freight traffic.
To ensure that all levels of government were aware of the situation and of the community's objections, the two ratepayer groups initiated many meetings with community leaders and elected representatives to explain why dumping freight traffic into our areas would not be an acceptable solution. York Region residents have accepted our fair share of freight traffic through our neighbourhoods for decades and we certainly did not want any more!
Many people say that it is impossible to go against big companies and/or government. That is not true. On December 17, 2018, Ontario’s Minister of Transportation, Jeff Yurek visited the Kitchener VIA Station and announced a 25 percent increase in service along the Kitchener line. "We are now increasing service to Kitchener GO by 25 per cent and there will be more news to come," said Minister Yurek. "Thanks to an enhanced relationship with our rail partner, CN, we are increasing GO train service for people travelling on the Kitchener line without waiting for a costly rail bypass."
The Town of Milton proposed building additional rail tracks - The Missing Link - to run alongside the ‘costly rail bypass’ in order to off load CP freight trains traveling on their Milton GO lines into the cities of Vaughan and Markham. Now that Minister Yurek has put an end to the bypass, Milton’s Missing Link proposal to build additional rail tracks is highly unlikely.
Rerouting freight trains from one densely populated area into another densely populated area is not a viable solution. I would like to thank the following for their hard work and efforts over these past two years. Pam Taraday-Levy/Esther Bobet of SPRA, Marilyn Ginsburg of GARA, our local MPPs/MPs, Councillor Shefman of Vaughan, former Councillor Burke of Markham, Mayor Scarpitti and especially Regional Councillor Heath of Markham and the many community leaders and residents who worked together to voice and share our concerns.