Some residents and environmental activists are celebrating Metrolinx’s sudden decision not to build a GO Transit layover facility in the Don Valley.
Metrolinx announced on March 1 it had selected a new location for the project further north, near York Mills and Leslie Streets, in a light industrial area. Local politicians, residents and activists had been strongly opposed to the previously proposed location, which was originally announced several years ago.
“I am feeling really proud and I’m feeling good to join and speak for the Don,” said Michael Kwan, a resident who lives nearby, during a recent visit to the valley.
Many people were concerned building the facility in the Don damage nearby wetlands, which could lead to the loss of mature trees and disrupt critical wildlife habitats.
Metrolinx said its new plan will meet Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) flood requirements and have fewer impacts on the community and environment. They said this allowed them to have available space for the facility which could minimize service impacts on GO operations.
‘They treat it as an empty space. It is not‘
Lawrence Warriner, the president of Don’t Mess with the Don, a registered charity, said he believes that abandoning Metrolinx’s plan in the Don Valley is the right one. He said the Don Valley site is in a flood plain and “a critical spot for wildlife, habitat, and migration.”
“You can’t be putting massive railyards that will create light, noise, and construction, disturbing every sort of animal, habitat and virtually destroying an entire area,” he said in a phone interview.
“They treat it as an empty space. It is not, it is incredibly valuable as green spaces for the city.”
Coun. Paula Fletcher, who represents Ward 14, Toronto-Danforth, shared those concerns.
“Thank you to all the advocates who’ve spoken up to protect this important natural area,” said Fletcher, in her Twitter post after Metrolinx announced the cancellation.
Kwan said the decision feels like a victory.
“It feels like I’ve won the things for myself and I’ve taken part in the whole thing,” he said. He believes that it is necessary for people to speak for themselves when their community is facing an environmental problem. “I am feeling good about that.”
Though Metrolinx has now announced the cancellation of its previous plan and people in the Don Valley have won a victory, some other concerns seem to linger. Warriner and Kwan both said people need to pay close attention to Metrolinx’s follow-up plans, noting they will still have an environmental impact.
“It still needs to be placed strategically. Metrolinx has to be more responsive,” said Warriner.