Junction Triangle Hosts First Metrolinx Wall Summit

Community groups to express concern over air rail link barrier walls at weekend meeting
Bloor West Villager by Rahul Gupta

A west-end group concerned about a series of noise barrier walls planned by Metrolinx will hold a summit to discuss the issue this weekend.

Kevin Putnam of the Junction Triangle Rail Committee (JTRC) said his group has invited other community groups for a frank exchange on the controversial walls, which Metrolinx wants erected along the Georgetown South rail corridor.

The transit planning agency has said the walls are necessary to reduce noise from increased train traffic – expected to rise to four times beyond its current level – once the Union Pearson Express air rail link service connecting Union Station with Terminal 1 of Pearson International Airport launches in two years’ time.

Putnam said the feedback generated from the summit, to be held on Sat. Jan. 5 at 1 p.m. at Perth/Dupont Public Library, will be sent to the provincial Minister of Transportation Bob Chiarelli.

“This is our effort to give feedback on the walls to the minister from residents along the corridor,” said Putnam on Thursday. “The other groups are certainly concerned about the walls. We haven’t had much occasion to meet them. I can’t say I really know what their opinions are, but they’ve all expressed concern.”

Representatives from the Wabash Building Society, Roncevalles-Macdonell Residents’ Association, DigIn (Dupont Improvement Group), the Mount Dennis Community Association, the Liberty Village Residents Association, the Weston Community Coalition and The West Bend Community Association have all confirmed their attendance for the event.

The decision to hold the summit stems from a meeting in November between the JTRC and Chiarelli, as well as Metrolinx’s Bruce McCuaig.

Putnam said it was important to relay residents’ concerns about the walls directly to the minister.

“The minister hears some angry voices and then he gets all this information from the responsible agency Metrolinx,” he said. “It’s clear to us the decision making authority lies at Queen’s Park and just talking with Metrolinx isn’t going to move the ball.”

Putnam, who along with the JTRC met with McCuaig a second time just before Christmas, said he was dismayed to learn from the Metrolinx CEO the agency was basing its plans for the walls on the feedback attained from a series of “poorly attended” community meetings held between 2011 and 2012.

“Through this discussion we found out Metrolinx is basing their full build plan for the walls on the feedback of fewer than 100 residents,” he said. “Along a route that stretches over 20 kilometres, you come to this conclusion that people really want these walls. And that’s what they’ve gone back and told the minister: people really want these walls.”

Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins could not confirm the attendance turnout for the six separate meetings on noise mitigation but said there was broad public support at the events for the noise walls.

“The majority of feedback has supported the use of noise walls,” said Aikins in an email.

She said the notice of the meetings was sent to thousands of residents living near the rail corridor in the form of e-blasts, flyers, newspaper advertisments, social media and other promotional channels. In addition its Strachan and Weston community relations offices continued to field inquiries related to the sound walls.

Aikins said Metrolinx intends to establish nine community advisory committees to help “identify concerns and provide input” in regards to the noise walls.

Metrolinx will also host a public meeting in the Junction Triangle this year on the walls, but a date has not yet been confirmed.



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Metrolinx Out Of Step With Rail Industry Science

I was at one of the public consultation meetings and there were 4 people there and 3 of them were against walls if they were not needed. Hardly the endorsement that Metrolinx is claiming!

Question, has Metrolinx compared the need for walls if there is an electric system? If so why not? Every major rail operator from Caltrain to British Rail says that electric trains are cheaper to operate and are "significantly quieter". Why is this news to Metrolinx? Are they not in the train business? Do they not have access to the internet? At conventions dont they ever bump into the majority of commuter train builders who are going or converting to electric? Where's the science?