By Catherine Berka & Tom Connell, Build the Park
Metrolinx’s vision for the diesel train parking and servicing facility it plans to build in the Don Valley verges on Pharaonic, akin to the monuments of ancient Luxor.
• rebuilt railbed, track and connecting rail bridge
• a 10-metre retaining wall
• a sanitary waste disposal building
• a staff office building
• electrical switching gear, transformer and storage facilities
• natural gas storage and air compression equipment
• an access road and staff parking facilities
• a trackside inspection and emergency access road
• extensive high-security fences and gates
The proposed facility, to store diesel trains from Milton serving Union Station between morning and afternoon peak hours, is to be on the rail line that crosses to the east side of the Don River just north of the Riverdale footbridge, running parallel to the Don Valley Parkway past the Bloor Viaduct towards the Half Mile Bridge.
A rendering from Metrolinx illustrates the high visual disturbance the facility will impose on an area of the valley already squeezed between the converging Don Valley Parkway and the river.
While Metrolinx’s plans for the facility have been under discussion since 2020, the consultation process has been largely inconspicuous. For example, a ”pop-up” information session in December with limited notice attracted only a handful of participants. Though thousands of people use the Lower Don Trail each week, no notices have been posted along the trail.
Objectors say they have many reasons to oppose the facility.
• It would reverse 50 years of progress in removing industry from the Don Valley.
• Its construction would destroy urban greenspace while
encroaching on ecological corridors, migration routes and wetlands, rebuffing efforts to limit climate change and biodiversity loss.
• Continuing to develop the Don Valley as a signature parkland in the centre of Toronto is a widely shared goal. In addition to the space it would occupy, the facility would complicate parkland access from either side of the lower Don.
• Metrolinx has provided little information to justify the choice of this site. In its Environmental Project Review, the provincial Metrolinx agency explicitly overrode municipal decision-makers: the “Transit Projects Regulation does not require proponents to look at . . . the rationale and planning alternatives or alternative solutions to the particular transit project.”
City Council and its Infrastructure & Environment Committee are studying the layover project, although it is not clear that the city has any leverage over the project. The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority will review final plans, but may only be able to highlight issues for Metrolinx to consider.
Construction activities on the layover site may begin before year-end. Opponents are urging Torontonians to send their views to provincial representatives, City Councillors, and even their Members of Parliament (the federal government provides substantial transit infrastructure funding).
For more information, visit these websites: Campaign opposing the layover: buildthepark.ca
A vision for the Don Valley: wonscotonachtrail.ca
Don’t Mess with the Don group: dontmesswiththedon.ca