Several Junction Triangle residents were very vocal about their disdain for the noise walls Metrolinx plans to build along its Georgetown South corridor at a public meeting Thursday, Feb. 7.
Despite the start of the snow storm, at least a couple dozen community members, as well as Davenport Councillor Ana Bailao, attended the consultation hosted by the provincial transportation agency’s Stephen Lipkus, executive director of the Georgetown South Project.
The Junction Triangle neighbourhood was notified last year of Metrolinx’s need to construct the sound walls. Bailao said she went to its executives right away with her concerns, which include their impact on the West Toronto Railpath, their potential to attract graffiti and their appearance in the residential community.
“It’s of grave concern to us, what will happen when these walls go up,” Bailao told Lipkus at St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral, in the Dupont Street and Perth Avenue area.
Lipkus assured the group that the sound walls would not be the ones like those visible along Hwy. 401.
“Our approach has been that these walls are absolutely needed because the noise exceeds permissible levels, but we’d like as much feedback as possible. We want to make sure everyone is informed,” he told his audience.
After detailed analysis, Metrolinx identified what areas would exceed an average of five decibels and where walls were needed for the 2015 Pan Am Games deadline. They are not required along industrial properties, Lipkus pointed out as he showed the group aerial photographs of the corridor indicating where the walls would go. As many as 140 trains will run every 15 minutes over a 20-hour period in 2015, he added. This is in addition to GO Transit’s 29 trains.
Lipkus showed a variety of sample walls, including pre-cast cement, acrylic panels and insulated vinyl panelled walls, to those who attended the meeting. They would be five-metres high, but could let ample light through and could be various textures and colours.
“They wouldn’t be just a blank wall,” he assured.
Metrolinx is in the midst of organizing community advisory committees, which would work with landscape architects, to determine what the sound walls would look like.
“We’re setting up nine community advisory committees along the corridor. Each will work with a landscape architect. Metrolinx will present a couple of designs to the community before a final decision is made,” said Lipkus. “Discussions are on the types of walls. The Ministry of Environment dictates that some walls are required for 2015.”
Residents argued the photographs showed no sense of scale. They asked Metrolinx for a mock-up instead.
Junction Triangle resident Francis LeBouthillier asked if there were green options, such as a berm, which would make it graffiti proof, he said.
“We did look at living walls, however, we have lots of areas along the corridor where space is not available. The best option is landscaping,” said Lipkus.
Construction of the walls is set to begin next year. Community Advisory Committees would start meeting in April.
“This will have a lot of different impacts on different communities,” said area resident Scott Dobson, who suggested that Metrolinx donate $5 million toward the construction of a pedestrian-cyclist bridge that would connect the railpath between the Junction Triangle and Parkdale. “I think Metrolinx should give something back. We didn’t ask for these walls. Throw some money into our bridge fund. It’ll look good on you.”
Bailao encouraged everyone to get involved in the discussion.
“We need to create our own process to make sure our voices are heard,” she said.
If you would like to get involved, email email@example.com or call 416-392-7012.