Scarborough residents surprised at timing of Stouffville GO expansion

News Jul 27, 2017 by Rahul Gupta Scarborough Mirror

Representatives of an Agincourt community group are disappointed no advance warning was provided to them about the provincial government’s plan to expand train service on the GO Transit Stouffville rail corridor.

The Agincourt Village Community Association (AVCA) has long had concerns over how a significant increase in GO traffic will impact rail safety along the Stouffville corridor, said group president Rhoda Potter. She told the Mirror the announcement by Steven Del Duca on June 8 to add 17 more GO trips per day on the corridor was particularly disconcerting since the AVCA had met prior to that with the Ontario transportation minister to discuss their concerns. Yet, no signal was given by Del Duca then an announcement for expanded service was imminent.

“We’ve asked for a plan many times ... to put measures in place to safely allow for an increase in trains,” said Potter of the move which took effect as of Monday, June 26. “We see an advantage to having more service, which is why no one in this community has said stop the trains. But do it properly.”

Potter and the rest of the group learned about the boost to the Stouffville line — doubling existing train trips per day from 17 to 34 — only after being informed by Scarborough city Coun. Chin Lee. 

Lee, who represents Scarborough-Rouge River, was himself taken aback by the announcement, said his executive assistant James Burchell, who confirmed no advance notice was provided ahead of Del Duca’s Stouffville expansion announcement.

“We were surprised by the timeline; we thought there would have been a little more head’s up,” admitted Burchell.

Burchell said he's heard plenty of concern registered about rail safety, particularly because children regularly cross the Stouffville tracks to get to school.  

“Ultimately, this is going to be fantastic … but there are growing pains,” he said.

The group met on Thursday, May 11 with Del Duca, along with representatives from Metrolinx plus Scarborough-Agincourt MPP Soo Wong to discuss its concerns. 

At the meeting according to Potter, Del Duca promised action. 

“Unfortunately for us, the action was completely out of touch with our concerns, and without informing our community,” she said.

Without responding specifically to the AVCA’s complaint, ministry spokesperson Alana Kitely said public updates are regularly made by the province’s transportation coordination arm Metrolinx.

“We know communities need to be kept informed about service changes,” said Kitely via email this week. “That is why Metrolinx has always communicated that service increases will be phased in throughout the duration of our expansion program.” 

According to Kitely, plans are underway to establish a community advisory committee to address safety concerns by the fall. She said Metrolinx is working on an education awareness campaign and is studying where it can add grade-separated crossings to the corridor, as well as coming up with long term strategy for existing crossings.

“This includes working with the City of Toronto to assess the best course of action to ensure that the crossings at Havendale, Huntingwood, McNicoll on our Stouffville railway corridor remain safe as we phase in increased service over the next 10 years,” said Kitely.

Scarborough residents surprised at timing of Stouffville GO expansion

Agincourt group says no advance warning given for doubling of train traffic

News Jul 27, 2017 by Rahul Gupta Scarborough Mirror

Representatives of an Agincourt community group are disappointed no advance warning was provided to them about the provincial government’s plan to expand train service on the GO Transit Stouffville rail corridor.

The Agincourt Village Community Association (AVCA) has long had concerns over how a significant increase in GO traffic will impact rail safety along the Stouffville corridor, said group president Rhoda Potter. She told the Mirror the announcement by Steven Del Duca on June 8 to add 17 more GO trips per day on the corridor was particularly disconcerting since the AVCA had met prior to that with the Ontario transportation minister to discuss their concerns. Yet, no signal was given by Del Duca then an announcement for expanded service was imminent.

“We’ve asked for a plan many times ... to put measures in place to safely allow for an increase in trains,” said Potter of the move which took effect as of Monday, June 26. “We see an advantage to having more service, which is why no one in this community has said stop the trains. But do it properly.”

Potter and the rest of the group learned about the boost to the Stouffville line — doubling existing train trips per day from 17 to 34 — only after being informed by Scarborough city Coun. Chin Lee. 

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Lee, who represents Scarborough-Rouge River, was himself taken aback by the announcement, said his executive assistant James Burchell, who confirmed no advance notice was provided ahead of Del Duca’s Stouffville expansion announcement.

“We were surprised by the timeline; we thought there would have been a little more head’s up,” admitted Burchell.

Burchell said he's heard plenty of concern registered about rail safety, particularly because children regularly cross the Stouffville tracks to get to school.  

“Ultimately, this is going to be fantastic … but there are growing pains,” he said.

The group met on Thursday, May 11 with Del Duca, along with representatives from Metrolinx plus Scarborough-Agincourt MPP Soo Wong to discuss its concerns. 

At the meeting according to Potter, Del Duca promised action. 

“Unfortunately for us, the action was completely out of touch with our concerns, and without informing our community,” she said.

Without responding specifically to the AVCA’s complaint, ministry spokesperson Alana Kitely said public updates are regularly made by the province’s transportation coordination arm Metrolinx.

“We know communities need to be kept informed about service changes,” said Kitely via email this week. “That is why Metrolinx has always communicated that service increases will be phased in throughout the duration of our expansion program.” 

According to Kitely, plans are underway to establish a community advisory committee to address safety concerns by the fall. She said Metrolinx is working on an education awareness campaign and is studying where it can add grade-separated crossings to the corridor, as well as coming up with long term strategy for existing crossings.

“This includes working with the City of Toronto to assess the best course of action to ensure that the crossings at Havendale, Huntingwood, McNicoll on our Stouffville railway corridor remain safe as we phase in increased service over the next 10 years,” said Kitely.

Scarborough residents surprised at timing of Stouffville GO expansion

Agincourt group says no advance warning given for doubling of train traffic

News Jul 27, 2017 by Rahul Gupta Scarborough Mirror

Representatives of an Agincourt community group are disappointed no advance warning was provided to them about the provincial government’s plan to expand train service on the GO Transit Stouffville rail corridor.

The Agincourt Village Community Association (AVCA) has long had concerns over how a significant increase in GO traffic will impact rail safety along the Stouffville corridor, said group president Rhoda Potter. She told the Mirror the announcement by Steven Del Duca on June 8 to add 17 more GO trips per day on the corridor was particularly disconcerting since the AVCA had met prior to that with the Ontario transportation minister to discuss their concerns. Yet, no signal was given by Del Duca then an announcement for expanded service was imminent.

“We’ve asked for a plan many times ... to put measures in place to safely allow for an increase in trains,” said Potter of the move which took effect as of Monday, June 26. “We see an advantage to having more service, which is why no one in this community has said stop the trains. But do it properly.”

Potter and the rest of the group learned about the boost to the Stouffville line — doubling existing train trips per day from 17 to 34 — only after being informed by Scarborough city Coun. Chin Lee. 

Related Content

Lee, who represents Scarborough-Rouge River, was himself taken aback by the announcement, said his executive assistant James Burchell, who confirmed no advance notice was provided ahead of Del Duca’s Stouffville expansion announcement.

“We were surprised by the timeline; we thought there would have been a little more head’s up,” admitted Burchell.

Burchell said he's heard plenty of concern registered about rail safety, particularly because children regularly cross the Stouffville tracks to get to school.  

“Ultimately, this is going to be fantastic … but there are growing pains,” he said.

The group met on Thursday, May 11 with Del Duca, along with representatives from Metrolinx plus Scarborough-Agincourt MPP Soo Wong to discuss its concerns. 

At the meeting according to Potter, Del Duca promised action. 

“Unfortunately for us, the action was completely out of touch with our concerns, and without informing our community,” she said.

Without responding specifically to the AVCA’s complaint, ministry spokesperson Alana Kitely said public updates are regularly made by the province’s transportation coordination arm Metrolinx.

“We know communities need to be kept informed about service changes,” said Kitely via email this week. “That is why Metrolinx has always communicated that service increases will be phased in throughout the duration of our expansion program.” 

According to Kitely, plans are underway to establish a community advisory committee to address safety concerns by the fall. She said Metrolinx is working on an education awareness campaign and is studying where it can add grade-separated crossings to the corridor, as well as coming up with long term strategy for existing crossings.

“This includes working with the City of Toronto to assess the best course of action to ensure that the crossings at Havendale, Huntingwood, McNicoll on our Stouffville railway corridor remain safe as we phase in increased service over the next 10 years,” said Kitely.