Metrolinx moves Don Valley Layover; Good things still happen:)
Metrolinx has decided to relocate their Don Valley Layover site from a beautifully restored section of parkland in the Lower Don, to a light industrial area near York Mills and Leslie St.. Our local citizen group - Build The Park.Ca, came together to bring awareness to this reckless Metrolinx plan and we are thrilled to now move onto our next job - to inspire citizens and all levels of government to coalesce around protecting Don Valley/ Wonscotonach Park in perpetuity, from the mouth of The Don River at Lake Ontario north, to the 401. This must become an election issue for the City of Toronto elections in June 2023. Please help us by donating to buildthepark.ca
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all individuals and groups that fought hard to protect our beloved Don Valley Park. A special thank you to Chrystia Freeland’s office - James and Ava in particular, for meeting with us and adding momentum to our fight. Thanks also to worldSALON.ca and WORLD Hair Skin, world.ca for your support.
On February 12th, the article below was blasted out to the media, Carolyn Mulroney’s office (Minister of Transportation, Ontario), Steven Guilbeault’s office (Minister of The Environment, Canada) and other stakeholder groups. On March 1st, Metrolinx announced their change of plans. Coincidence? We’ll never know.
Top 10 Reasons Metrolinx needs to be stopped from destroying Toronto’s largest Urban Park
You might have heard of the Don Valley Park, or if you live anywhere near the Don River, you probably have hiked, run or ridden your bike along The Don Trail network which winds like a beautiful green ribbon from Lake Ontario up to the 401, with slight jogs here and there. In the 1960s much of this river valley was a polluted wasteland, poisoned by decades of dumping industrial waste and garbage. As we have evolved as a species, wild spaces all over the world, especially in urban areas, have been embraced and brought back to health by local citizens and progressive governments. The Don River Valley is no exception, and during COVID it became a lifeline for thousands of citizens every week, needing to get outside, breathe fresh air and reconnect with friends and family in nature, while respecting safe distance protocols. The wellness quotient of “green infrastructure” has tangible value and with climate change worsening, will only be more important in the future. Also, many are not aware of the historical significance of the Lower Don, which 11,000 years ago was a significant trading route for First Nations people. The name “Wonscotonach Park” has also been used for this area recently to identify and celebrate this history and build onto the important work of reconciliation. The specifics that follow paint a very clear picture of why Metrolinx’s “Don Valley Layover” must be moved.
Metrolinx is now planning to install a parking lot and layover facility for diesel trains in a position that will dominate the lower Don Valley, while taking a large bite out of parkland, urban tree canopy, and ecological habitats. The layover proposal supposedly fulfills Metrolinx’s criteria for transit system optimization, but any effort to reconcile this plan with other city and regional priorities seems to have been an afterthought at best. Toronto’s City Council has not been convinced that the proposed layover is the best way forward, and with the leadership of Councillor Paula Fletcher, passed a unanimous motion last year asking City officials to work with Metrolinx to find alternatives to the layover proposal. Here are ten reasons why the layover proposal must be given a rethink:
THE FUTURE OF THE DON VALLEY/WONSCTONACH PARK
Conservation groups and municipal authorities (e.g. Task Force to Bring Back the Don, Toronto Regional Conservation Authority and Evergreen Brickworks) have worked to restore and protect the rich and diverse ecology in the Lower Don Parklands. Much of the land is now classified as an Environmentally Significant Area (ESA) and the area also includes Helliwell’s Hill Wetlands and Chester Hill Springs Marsh. Ecological restoration continues and has been expanding with the work of additional volunteer groups such as Toronto Nature Stewards and Don’t Mess with the Don. Stewardship must continue to support the Toronto Ravine Strategy, Biodiversity Strategy, TransformTO, and other critical initiatives.
On October 18, 2016, Mayor John Tory and Evergreen Brickworks announced their public and private fundraising campaign in partnership with the TRCA, dedicated to establishing parklands spanning from Evergreen Brickworks to the Toronto Waterfront. The Don River Valley Park would be Toronto’s largest contiguous natural parkland, connecting communities throughout downtown Toronto, providing much needed green space to hundreds of thousands of downtown residents. Millions of dollars were raised (including a foundational donation), and investments were made by philanthropists to supplement public funds committed to build this park. In January 2020, Mayor Tory recommitted to this promise at Evergreen with the Ravine Strategy Implementation Plan.
Metrolinx’s proposed diesel train layover facility requires approximately 4 hectares (around 10 acres) of valley greenspace on a 1.5km strip running under the Prince Edward Viaduct, and will destroy restored forests with 60-year-old trees, precious wetlands and natural habitat which have taken many decades to restore. The train yard will also pose an ongoing risk of industrial pollution. Parks should NOT be an easy target for industrial development. On top of this, the multi-million-dollar layover will be built on and above a floodplain that has flooded over 100 times in the last forty years. We all remember photos of the GO train stranded in this area in 2013.
Metrolinx continues to not inform, mis-inform and dis-inform the public about its plan for the Don Valley Park. In fact, the initial environmental assessment and overall case for the project was predicated on Metrolinx using the existing track and rail bridge adjacent to Riverdale Park. Subsequent developments have revealed replacements for both these components, entailing major additional construction activities in the ESA zone, despite previous representations to the contrary. Its public engagement and consultation process is counter to the spirit of the regulations governing Metrolinx, which demand transparency and a two-way dialogue. As a Crown corporation funded by taxpayers, this behaviour is unacceptable.
There are viable alternative locations for this layover that will not pose a threat to our health, heritage, and wildlife. Metrolinx has failed to properly justify why it has chosen to build a diesel layover facility and parking lot for trains in a natural area at an incalculable environmental and social cost. In fact, from earlier stages of this project, Metrolinx has rebuffed City of Toronto inquiries considering alternative sites, and also declined to provide a full array of renderings showing the projected impact of the layover on the Lower Don Valley.
Metrolinx' development plans for the Don Valley, which is part of “The Greenbelt”, sets a dangerous precedent for future misuse of our parks and greenspaces. Will the entire Don Valley turn into a massive layover and parking lot for trains? Metrolinx has failed to reassure the public that there are no additional plans for incremental expansion to transit infrastructure in the Don Valley Park. Is the Don Valley Park destined to become a rail corridor? (“RAIL CORRIDOR” MAY BE A GOOD THING FOR TRANSIT ENTHUSIASTS. SUGGESTS TRAIN TRACKS AS OPPOSED TO CONCRETE.)
Parkland in downtown Toronto is scarce, especially for those communities south of Bloor. It is prohibitively expensive to purchase park space as outlined in the Parkland Acquisition Strategy (as agreed upon by City Council) and does not make sense to give away priceless parkland while purchasing it elsewhere at market value. The negative impact of the layover on the magnificent vistas that define our city, and on the integrity of the park corridor will be considerable and permanent. The views of the iconic Prince Edward Bridge alone are worth preserving.
All levels of government are taking steps to address climate change and biodiversity loss, while helping our economy transition away from its reliance on fossil fuels. It is one step forward and one back if transit system improvements come at the expense of the protection of urban greenspace, instead of a more thoughtful approach that balances transit system requirements with environmental protection. It is tragic to sacrifice the Don Valley for the expansion of diesel infrastructure that will be obsolete by the time it is completed.
There are some fantastic infrastructure projects underway to improve the health of The Don River Watershed. First, the 1.5 billion dollar Waterfront Toronto Don Mouth Naturalization Project will create a stunning new park and net zero community at the mouth of the Don River as it meanders out to Lake Ontario. Particular care will be paid to aquatic habitats and the success of plant and animal species. Second, the 3.5 billion dollar Coxwell Bypass Don River Central Waterfront Project will direct sewer water overflow to the Ashbridges Bay Water Treatment Plant for processing, instead of into the river, improving water quality and the health and diversity of aquatic species, both plant and animal). With this kind of investment in green infrastructure in the city, why does Metrolinx think wiping out 10 acres of parkland including hundreds of trees planted half a century ago, to build a parking lot for three off peak diesel trains is a good idea? To wash trains, empty toilets and look forward to the inevitable diesel spill?
- WE NEED SUSTAINABLE TRANSIT BUT NOT AT THE EXPENSE OF 0UR GREATEST NATURAL ASSET – OUR RAVINES AND NATURAL AREAS. The Don Valley Layover would forever destroy the dream of a protected urban park for Toronto’s future generations. We can and must do better, and need Metrolinx to rethink its plans for the Don Valley and work with the City to do justice to our shared objectives for transit system improvements and the protection of urban greenspace.
Many of these points apply to any future development in this parkland, which is why it is so important to commemorate and protect this land for future generations. Congratulations to all of us on this important win for the City of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Stay tuned to buildthepark.ca and help us Build The Park.
Founder WORLD Hair and Skin, worldSALON