Many of you are now aware through my regular e-newsletter and website updates on Metrolinx's proposed Davenport Community Rail Overpass - a 3 story rail bridge being proposed to bypass the Davenport Diamond near Lansdowne Ave and Dupont St. I have been working hard to represent the interests of our community ever since we found about this project back in March 2015 - successfully moving two motions at City Council that got City staff involved in the assessment of this project in April 2015, and for Council to request for a delay and to endorse a list of key issues identified, including requesting that Metrolinx address and properly fund them in July 2015.
As a result of Metrolinx announcing in November 2015 that they will be moving forward with the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP) for the overpass option in January 2016, City staff submitted a report to last week's Council meeting on this issue. At that meeting, I presented 1096 resident petitions collected by Options for Davenport opposing a bridge and asking for cooperation on an option that benefits our community and Metrolinx.
Following the vigorous debate on this project, City Council voted by a margin of 38-1 to oppose the overpass grade separation option within the Davenport Rail Grade Separation TPAP and to communicate to Metrolinx that it supports a tunnel option for this rail grade separation. This is now the City's official position and it will also be submitted to the Provincial Minister of the Environment and Climate Change with copy to the Environmental Commissioner for Ontario.
The City Manager will be reporting back to Council on Metrolinx's response to Council's position. The Chief Planner will also be reporting in early 2016 on the "Missing Link" initiative and its merits as a key element of the freight rail network serving the City and the GTA. The "Missing Link" would connect the CP and CN rail lines to the west of Toronto, essentially creating a bypass route north of the city for freight rail. If this is pursued by the other levels of government, it will make our community safer by eliminating freight train traffic (including oil tank cars) from travelling through our community. You can view the Council decision on this item, the report submitted, and recent correspondence between the City and Metrolinx by clicking here.
I would like to highlight that although City Council has opposed the overpass option, ultimate authority including any decision to start, stop, or delay the project rests with Metrolinx and the Province of Ontario.
The reality is that there are challenges with all the options, but based on the significant planning issues and community impacts that have been identified to-date and due to the lack of commitments from Metrolinx; City staff and Council view the tunnel option as the one with less long-term impacts.
You have my full commitment that I will continue fighting for the best possible outcome for our community and to keep you informed. Our community deserves no less.
You can view a history of my updates on this issue by clicking here.