Living in Weston, it’s hard to miss the constant reminders of a major construction project under way. The noise of machinery, diesel horns warning track workers, dust, road closures or the plain inconvenience of having to figure out how to get from one place to another have made living in Weston less than ideal. Now it seems that Metrolinx wants to extend work hours up to 18 per day.
As a result of the extended hours, along with other issues around construction of the U.P. Express line, MP Mike Sullivan has initiated a formal complaint to the Canadian Transportation Agency and has notified Transportation Minister Glen Murray and Metrolinx President Bruce McCuaig.
Read Sullivan’s letter below.
In the past, the CTA has ruled against excessive community disruption by GO / Metrolinx and federal courts have upheld the ruling. Let’s hope that Metrolinx can be a bit more considerate of residents’ concerns and act quickly on this.
A Junction anti-noise wall group has scored a small victory. After ridiculing him for weeks for refusing to meet with them, the group got their wish: the Minister of Transportation, Glen Murray, will meet with the Junction Triangle Rail Committee on October 31.
The JTRC is opposed to Metrolinx’s noise wall plans, and they have enlisted the help of architects to design better walls. The improved walls integrate better into the urban and natural environment.
The organizer of the JTRC have given up hope that Metrolinx will change the designs, and have, instead, been focusing on the political masters since the wall designs were announced.
The noise walls have not received much opposition in Weston, even though they will concrete and 16 feet high in most places.
One has to wonder if it’s arrogance, inexperience or plain old bloody-mindedness but Ontario Transportation Minister Glen Murray has decided that photo-ops are a much better way of advancing his career than dealing with Westonians’ outrage over mud traffic and noise generated by the Weston Tunnel construction. Back in January, two days before the recent Ontario Liberal leadership convention Mr Murray shrewdly traded his wafer-thin chances of becoming Premier to front-runner Kathleen Wynne in exchange for a cabinet position.
On Thursday, responding to residents’ concerns about Weston Tunnel noise, work schedules and mud tracked through the neighbourhood, MP Mike Sullivan requested to speak to the Minister by phone within 48 hours. Apparently Minister Murray is far too busy to come to the phone but through an assistant, generously promised to make contact if “the Minister’s schedule opens up for a call in the near future”. Sullivan placed a request to meet with Murray last February but has heard nothing to date. Even letters from fellow Liberal, MPP Laura Albanese and Toronto Councillor Frances Nunziata can’t get the Minister down from his high horse. We’ve all heard that power corrupts. However, Mr. Murray is merely Transportation Minister in a lame duck government that by tradition (with an unelected Premier) will have to go to the polls soon. Despite the probability that he’s about to join a number of his colleagues on the unemployment lines the Minister seems to think he has bigger fish to fry than deal with a bunch of complainers in Weston.
Soon we’ll have an election call. Minister Murray will become Candidate Murray, when no doubt his tone will become a lot more conciliatory. Glen Murray will be just fine regardless of the outcome. He doesn’t care that people in Weston are asking for help. There’s always an institute or community college that will employ him now that he’s quite well known. He’ll be able to add cabinet minister to the long list of jobs on his resumé – ka-ching.
No doubt the Premier will be horrified to hear that one of her ministers is ignoring the concerns of residents and their elected representatives. Use this link to direct your concerns to the Premier directly.
Post Script: April 13: Metrolinx has agreed to stick with the original construction schedule. According to MPP Laura Albanese and Councillor Frances Nunziata,
Metrolinx has listened to the community and has agreed to suspend the extended hours it had intended to put into place in the King St area. Work will continue from 7 am – 7 pm on weekdays and on Saturdays, as has been the case thus far. We have been informed that Metrolinx will be providing information to the community early next week and will survey residents on the options for moving forward.
A follow-up meeting with Metrolinx will be held in the next 2-3 weeks.
As is common with many community meetings, the organizers and facilitators from the GTAA (Greater Toronto Airports Authority) seemed to outnumber the good citizens of Weston in attendance. A series of information boards lined the walls of the Pelmo Park Community Centre along with airport staff there to elaborate on facts and figures and review the initiatives currently under way at Pearson. The main area of complaints from residents is undoubtedly that of noise and staff were able to explain to those interested the details of various flight patterns. The loudest time for Westonians is whenever there is an east wind and planes are taking off over Weston. This happens 40% of the time; people to the west of the airport have the lion’s share of take-off noise.
Another interesting fact that emerged is that the airport employs nearly 40,000 people of whom about 1000 live in Weston.
I asked about the occasional kerosene smell that seems to drift down from the airport during the winter months. The best thing to do is to phone in a report whenever there is a concern about noise or whatever. Reports are all logged and treated seriously.
A couple of items of news: the airport link which connects Terminals 1, 3 and the Value Parking Lot will be closed from March 19th until October to allow for the construction of the U.P. Express Station that will link the airport with Weston and downtown. Shuttle buses will move people between terminals until then.
Mike Sullivan was able to chat briefly and mentioned that people shouldn’t get their hopes up about electrification of the U.P.Express trains. While Ontario Minister of Transportation Glen Murray has promised that electrification will begin in 2017, he has never made a commitment as to when it will be completed. You can watch the Minister waffling around in response to a couple of very clear Jonah Schein questions. Sullivan also mentioned that given the total cost to the taxpayer of the U.P. Express, it would have cost the same amount to have put in a subway line since the addition of a fourth track (necessary for all day GO service) will require tunnelling under the 401, one lane at a time at a cost of $400,000,000.
To contact the GTAA about Pearson Airport noise or other concerns, phone (416) 776-5739
Laura Albanese asked the Minister of Transportation, Glen Murray, about the electrification timeline of the UP Express. She had several complimentary things to say about the line, and asked him for an “update” on it.
Murray said that the earliest we could expect the line to be electrified is 2017, and said that he is “very committed to working with her to realize that time frame, and as we develop the infrastructure… we will be trying to fully realize these projects right on time”.
Your humble correspondent is not quite sure what to make of that. Is it a promise? Has he said that the line will be electrified starting in 2017? Or has he promised that the soonest it will be electrified is in 2017? One thing is certain: I am committed to the assurance that the honourable minister will continue to negatively realize the actualities of forthright expression.