Airport Link and All Day GO – Implications for Weston Residents

The mainstream press rediscovers the Airport Link every so often and now is no exception. For some reason, the line is back in the consciousness of the media. It’s probably a good time to look at some of the issues and implications for Weston.

Firstly, we have to thank the good people at Weston Community Coalition and the Clean Train Coalition and others who took the time and trouble to yell loudly enough to ensure that the train would stop at Weston at all. When first planned, only one stop was designated along the way at Dundas West.  Labelled Blue 22 because of the anticipated 22-minute journey, the train will now take 25 minutes from Pearson to Union Station with the added stop in Weston. Hopefully it will one day be called the Green 25 but not yet as the trains will be tier 4 diesels – there’s probably no way of fixing that for several years as the Japanese locomotives for the link were a done deal years ago, money is tight and there isn’t likely to be another election soon. It’s a shame but that’s politics for you. Some of the noise will be reduced through barriers and along one section, a tunnel. As for pollution, allegedly these diesels are somewhat less polluting than GO Trains but electric will be far cleaner, quieter and faster when it eventually arrives. The reason for the haste is that the link was promised for the 2015 Pan Am games to move spectators between downtown and the Airport (athletes will have their own dedicated buses and lanes along the 427 and Gardiner).

Because  of the need to reduce noise levels, the tracks near the existing station will be lowered into a tunnel. The station will move south of Lawrence this spring where more parking can be accommodated. Work is already well under way in the new location. John Street will be revitalized.

Also in 2015, our anemic GO Train service will be increased to an all-day service with double the number of trains running.

So to summarize: in 2015, Weston will have an all-day train service to downtown as well as stops along the way and in addition will be served by a separate link with rapid access to Pearson Airport (probably under 10 minutes) as well as to downtown. The new station is being designed with community input (next meeting February 2, 2012 at York West Active Living Centre 1901 Weston Road), will be much more visible, have lots of parking and will be accessible from Lawrence Avenue as well as Weston Road. Although fares will be more expensive than the subway, the added convenience and speed (under 20 minutes to downtown) will be an excellent trade-off.

What are the implications? For real estate developers, having such a rapid portal to two huge places of interest will spark a frenzy of property buying in this area. If the fares are affordable, airport workers from baggage handlers to pilots will love to live with such easy access—easier and faster than just about any other transportation method, as the new Link will connect directly to Terminal One. The range of housing available is stunning, from the mansions of historic Weston to apartments and condos—and at bargain prices too. People who work in downtown Toronto will find that Weston will be an easy commute with flexibility thanks to the all-day service. There will be a building boom in a wide area around the station to accommodate the new travellers and their needs. Apartment buildings will spring up near the station. Another implication: Weston may begin to see signs of gentrification—perhaps a Starbucks and a restaurant chain or two; fewer payday loan companies, dollar stores and vacant properties. Older apartment buildings will spruce themselves up in order to attract a changing demographic, sparking a boom in renovations. Rents both commercial and retail will go up. Condos that have languished for years will be snapped up.

A danger exists that Weston station will be replaced by another location, possibly a mobility hub (note two links) along the way. This will perhaps take years and with vigilance and community activism may never happen.

4 thoughts on “Airport Link and All Day GO – Implications for Weston Residents”

  1. Hopefully the next phase of the Heritage District is in place before developers start buying up properties. Nothing worse than seeing a ginormous new house that doesn’t fit in with the neighbourhood.

    Would be nice to see some of the more run-down old houses returned to their former glory. And a decent coffee place (would settle for a Starbucks).

  2. Wow I wish I was just as optimistic about this as you are Roy. The big issue for me is the fares. I think GO fares will double in the coming years. Especially for Pan Am. This ARL train fare might cost $20 or $30 from Weston. The politicians don’t even know what it will be. Doubt it airport workers will abandon the Malton bus for this price unless they get discount or something. What will be great if they bring back the Maple Leaf bus to stop at SouthStation again since the Weston GO station will be more south Lawrence at least.

  3. Just a couple of corrections Roy – the Clean Train Coalition is only going into it’s 4th year while the Weston Community Coalition is going into it’s 8th year as we began in 2005 and the CTC in 2009. We, in Weston got the stop here and the kept the road open, not the CTC. In fact, until the pile driving started in early 2009, no-one south of Mount Dennis really understood what was going on even after having meetings with various groups. It was that which shook them, literally, to their core and we all joined forced to create the new Coalition. But the WCC had already done all the background work on the issue. And the deal for the Japanese trains was only inked this year and only because they latched onto another project using same vehicles down in California. There was more than enough time to electrify, buy electric, Ontario or Quebec trains and create a much better project for every citizen who is paying for it. More money has been spend negating the common sense of electrification and building this right the first time than it would have cost in the long run to electrify.

    And if one of our members is correct, Metrolinx has no intention of converting the diesels to electric — they will end up buying new electric vehicles and use the Tier 4 diesels elsewhere. So again, we pay twice.

  4. Thanks for the corrections (and your hard work on our behalf) IM, that’s the trouble with relying on memory! I’ll amend and insert a link to WCC.

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