Better transit alternatives overlooked: Friends of Rouge Watershed

While business and traffic have grown in northeast Scarborough, better transit alternatives have been largely ignored, says a local environmental activist.

“They’ve got this beautiful rail line which can be converted to GO Transit,” said Jim Robb of Friends of the Rouge Watershed. “It’s disappointing that the city hasn’t put emphasis on this transit alternative.”

The railway, which runs from Scarborough to Peterborough and Havelock, was once used for passenger trains.

One train trip would take about 2,000 people off the road every 15 minutes, thus decreasing traffic pollution and making transportation more efficient, Robb said.

Last summer, Metrolinx proposed an environmental assessment for making the conversion between 2013 and 2015. But Toronto probably won’t accommodate it for another 10–20 years, Robb said.

“It’s a concern that this possibility has been mostly ignored,” he said. “It clearly warrants more attention.”

The rail line would be an alternative to the Donald Cousens Parkway project, which many in Toronto have opposed since Markham conceived it in 2003. It proposes to direct 50,000 cars daily southbound through Scarborough to Hwy. 401 from Markham.

After being turned down by the Ministry of the Environment, Markham was given another chance to propose an effective route.

The original environmental assessment for the Donald Cousens Parkway would have allowed the destruction of two areas of the Rouge Valley.