Markham Economist and Sun
Freight traffic could double if Mississauga-Milton initiative gains traction
The prospect of twice as many freight trains rolling through south York Region has local taxpayer groups reaching out to all levels of government to put the brakes on.
Ricardo Mashregi, a Thornhill resident who speaks for a number of local ratepayers groups opposed to any dramatic increase in local freight-train traffic, has been meeting with regional MPs, MPPs and municipal politicians to make his opposition known.
Concerns have been raised because of a Metrolinx mandate to push public transit heavily throughout the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area in the next decade as the area dramatically increases in population.
In simple terms, Mashregi said, Metrolinx has bought up about 80 per cent of the GTHA’s rail lines for its transit expansion but does not own the two freight lines, CN, which runs through York Region, and CP, which runs along the Mississauga-Milton line.
What municipal politicians along the Mississauga-Milton line have suggested is that to offer all-day, two-way GO train service in future, all the CP freight train service be moved to the CN line through York Region, doubling the freight service on the York line.
It’s what the consultant hired by Mississauga and Milton has called “The Missing Link,” and it’s believed it will save $5.3 billion over the long term.
What upsets Mashregi and his colleagues is that no consultation with York Region communities was done before the suggestion to move CP rail traffic to York Region was suggested.
“They have two alternatives: to build additional tracks along Mississauga-Milton to handle the additional traffic or to move the freight to York, the cheaper alternative. So they want to do what’s easier and cheaper,” said Mashregi.
“In doing that (the cheaper alternative) they (Mississauga and Milton) have no regard for the residents who live in the cities of Vaughan and Markham who will be impacted by potentially doubling the freight trains through their areas. It will benefit Mississauga and Milton to detriment of residents in Vaughan and Markham,” Mashregi said.
Mashregi, with support from other local ratepayer groups, has spoken with municipal politicians like Markham deputy mayor Jack Heath, to encourage resistance to the Mississauga-Milton initiative.
Support has also been received from MPPs like Michael Chan (Liberal, Markham-Unionville), Gila Martow (Progressive Conservative, Thornhill), and perhaps most importantly, Minister of Transport and Vaughan Liberal MPP Steven Del Duca, who has said the government has no plans to move freight train traffic from the Mississauga-Milton line to the York Region line.
“The politicians, and this is a bipartisan issue, have been very helpful and very supportive and that’s where we are right now. We want to keep up the pressure and make sure our views are known on this issue,” Mashregi said.
YorkRegion.com | Article: Tim Kelly | Photo: Susie Kockerscheidt/Metroland