It looks like passionate Toronto advocates have reason to celebrate.
Today, Metrolinx announced that the location has changed for a controversial new GO train layover facility. In an announcement posted on Wednesday, the provincially owned agency said it has moved the proposed Don Valley Layover facility out of the Valley.
“As part of the development phase of the GO Expansion – On-Corridor Works Project, Metrolinx has been working with ONxpress to optimize GO service expansion levels and a new location for a layover facility has been identified in the process,” reads the announcement on its website. “This means that Metrolinx will no longer pursue planning and design work for the layover facility originally planned for the Don Valley.”
Metrolinx had previously carved out 11-odd acres north of the Bloor Viaduct in Don River Valley Park for a layover required to park GO trains during off-peak hours. The yard would have incorporated an existing track in addition to at least three new buildings and a staff parking lot. Inevitably, this move was met with criticism from opponents, who said less environmentally intrusive sites were available.
For a while, Metrolinx resisted. Now, it seems to have changed its tune.
The new proposed location is on the Richmond Hill GO Line, near York Mills Road and Leslie Street and sits in what Metrolinx calls “a light industrial area.” According to Metrolinx, the location is within the required proximity to Union station to accommodate train movements, has available space for the facility, and minimizes service impacts on GO operations.
Furthermore, the location also meets TRCA flood requirements and has less community and environmental impacts.
In terms of next steps, Metrolinx says that engagement with Indigenous Nations and stakeholders about feasibility, and due diligence work will continue to be caried out on the new location to finalize design, property requirements, schedule, and operations for the On-Corridor Works Project.
“Metrolinx is committed to working closely with Indigenous Nations with established and credibly asserted Aboriginal and treaty rights asserted, the City of Toronto and the TRCA to engage on the new identified location and reduce any potential impacts,” reads the announcement.
According to Metrolinx, to enable rail service increases during design and construction of the new layover, the Rosedale Siding (located between Bayview Avenue and the Don Valley Parkway) will be used temporarily to stage GO trains during the day. GO Trains will be staged at the Rosedale Siding for about two hours in the morning peak period, and another two hours in the afternoon peak period, according to the transit agency.
At a time when Metrolinx continues to frustrate Toronto residents with perpetual construction delays, service disruptions, and allegations of poor business practices, this is undoubtedly some good news from the agency -- for a change.