GO Transit has opened a community office in Weston. It held a grand opening tonight at the converted house at the intersection of Denison and Weston Road.
GO and Metrolinx have had a terrible relationship with the residents of Weston. Steve Munro, a transit blogger, says that early “proposals to slice through Weston … infuriated local residents.” According to Munro, “GO runs popular services, and as a provincial agency it is used to getting more or less what it wants. Public participation and accommodation have not been GO’s strong suits.”
Kathryn Hanford, the Team Lead, says, “GO realized that we were kind of shy of resources. We’ve got more resources now.”
Manuel Pedrosa, the manager of community relations, also said that things are changing. “We’re mindful that there’s a large infrastructure project in the community. We want to make sure we’re available to the community to answer questions and concerns.”
According to Pedrosa, the community office will be in Weston until the project is completed in 2014. Pedrosa says that they want “to ensure that the community is informed, to give them an opportunity to engage in the project.”
While the staff seemed sincere, Metrolinx has remained somewhat tone deaf to community needs. Not one staff member is from Weston, though Hanford did grow up nearby. Pedrosa said “we do have an initiative to ensure that some of the jobs come from the community”, and Hanford said they had been receiving résumés; nonetheless, none of the dozen-or-so employees at the open house was from Weston. In the last census, Weston had an unemployment rate 120% of Toronto’s, and 25% of residents live below the poverty line.
Neither Harford nor Pedrosa had any information about how Metrolinx’s recent takeover of the Air Rail Link project would affect Weston residents.