Tens of thousands of demonstrators from seven community groups across the city spoke at MetroLinks and the provincial government’s approach to transport planning at Queen’s Park on Wednesday.
Groups are calling on the province and its regional transportation agency to prioritize the health and well-being of local communities and to listen to them when it comes to building transportation plans in their neighborhoods.
“Our voice is lost in this transportation planning process,” said Ian Song on behalf of Save Jimmy Simpson, one of the protest groups. Groups may have different goals but Metrolinx wants to do environmental reviews for projects and meaningful consultations with communities, he said.
The group wrote in a news release that the current plans for the Ontario Line, the Yonge North Subway Extension and the GO expansion would damage communities’ green areas, small businesses, schools and homes and were without public or stakeholder consultation.
These groups include legislation introduced in the fall of 2020, the Building Transportation Speed Act and the Ministrial Engaging Ordinance (MZO), which allows the government to authorize development regardless of local regulations, used to override cities. Premier Doug Ford’s government has used MZOs to push through projects more than any other government in recent times.
Who and why protested
Save Jimmy Simpson
A bottomless community in Riverside and Leslieville is asking for the building of a section of the Ontario line that runs through its community to protect the health and environment of the community, including neighboring Jimmy Simpson Park.
Friends of Small Creek
Upper Beaches and East Danforth residents, trying to prevent Metrolinks from widening the Lakeshore East Rail Corridor, which cuts more than 200 trees in the Smalls Creek and Williamson Park ravines beginning this month, to accommodate the proposed fourth track.
Put the subway in Yong
The Thornhill Neighborhood Group is asking Metrolinks to reconsider the construction of the Yong North subway extension under the Royal Orchard neighborhood and to keep the line on its previously approved route down Yonge Street.
Citizens for Pepe Area Transportation
A grassroots community in East York is made up of residents impacted by the proposed Ontario line, who are asking Metrolinks to pay attention and listen.
Other groups in attendance should not be confused with the Lakeshore East Community Advisory Committee, DONE and First Parliament.
A community representing Thorncliffe Park residents about Metrolinks’ proposed 175,000-square-meter railroad did not come to their community, SaveTPARK, but the speakers solved their problems.
Of all the Toronto neighborhoods considered for the project, SaveTipark says Thorncliff Park was chosen for Metrolink’s Ontario Line Railroad because it is the poorest and least white.
“The Thorncliffe problem is rampant,” said Rima Burns-McGown, MPP of Beach-East York, in a speech at the rally.
He called the Mextrolinks decision to build community and potentially force businesses Iqbal Foods He said it was especially important to move the “very racist” and listen to ethnic and working class communities like Thorncliffe Park.
Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins said the Ontario line needed a new railroad and the goal was to have the least impact on businesses, jobs and residents.
“Despite the impact it will have on that neighborhood, it has the least impact,” said Aikins at the Thorncliffe location.
Asked in Toronto how Metrolinks would like to address concerns that were not adequately negotiated, Aikins said Metrolinx had been working on building the necessary transportation for decades and was building projects worth $ 80 billion.
He said it’s difficult to build in older, densely populated communities like Toronto, but Metrolinks has been building transportation for a decade and knows what it takes to communicate with groups. Eakins said the agency is opening community-based offices to answer questions and post public consultation, maildrops, news bulletins and stories on her blog.
Regarding Jimmy Simpson Park, Aikins said Metrolinx would not touch both the Jimmy Simpson Recreation Center and the park and the Ontario line would not affect them.
In Small’s Creek, Metrolinks said some trees had to be downed, but promised to replace each one removed.
Everyone wants a carriage, but no one wants it to affect their backyard, ”he said.
The Ministry of Transportation spokeswoman, Natasha Tremblay, said by email that the ministry will continue to work closely with transportation partners, including the City of Toronto, to ensure that Metrolinks listen to the concerns and feedback of residents and include them in its plans.
“Our government fully expects Metrolinks to be accountable to the communities they serve and conduct thoughtful, meaningful consultation where work is going on.”