Metrolinx promises public consultation in GO line expansion

GUELPH-ERAMOSA – Metrolinx spokesperson Nitish Bissonauth says the transit agency will provide public consultation for residents before it begins the environmental assessment needed for the Kitchener GO Transit corridor expansion, but he did not specify a start date or timeline.

Last week the Advertiser reported Metrolinx is asking permission to access private and public properties in Guelph-Eramosa to conduct a series of environmental and geotechnical studies for the expansion. 

The Advertiser made a request for comment from Metrolinx but did not receive Bissonauth’s email until after press time. 

At the end of September, Guelph-Eramosa Township and local landowner Stephanie De Grandis recieved agreements from Metrolinx to carry out the studies.

The owner of 210 acres, De Grandis operates farm businesses Walnut Hill Tree and Critter Farm Inc. on the 7th Line in Rockwood. 

Tracks for the existing Kitchener line cut through De Grandis’ property. 

De Grandis told the Advertiser that her chief issue with the agreement was lack of clarification on the project and what the environmental studies would entail. 

When asked about the timeline for the project Bissanauth wrote, “Metrolinx is in the pre-planning and assessment phase for the electrification and infrastructure Environmental Assessment, which will include public consultation. Stay tuned for more information.” 

However, he added work has already begun on the Guelph Subdivision, the section of the corridor that extends from Georgetown through to Kitchener (and includes the tracks across De Grandis’ property)which used to be owned by Goderich-Exeter Railway and before that CN. 

“In November 2018, Metrolinx took over ownership on the Guelph Subdivision, and since then, crews have been busy improving level crossings, installing new switches, and replacing rail, ties and ballast to make the commute faster and more comfortable,” said Bissonauth. 

When asked for clarification if the Kitchener Corridor  meant doubling the tracks, he wrote, “Double tracking is being considered on some sections of the Kitchener corridor closer to Toronto, to deliver on our commitment to two-way, all-day service.” 

He also wrote that there is no plan to purchase any public or privately owned land at this time. 

The paper also asked why environmental and geotechnical studies in Guelph-Eramosa were needed. 

“The Environmental Assessment (EA) being conducted today in Guelph Eramosa is related to electrification and other potential infrastructure improvements to deliver two-way, all-day service between Toronto and Waterloo Region on the Kitchener corridor,” Bissonauth wrote.

Under the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act, environmental studies are mandatory to minimize environmental effects from new infrastructure. 

De Grandis also contacted Metrolinx to make her concerns known and community and stakeholder relations manager Leona Hollingsworth wrote “only natural resource investigations were now being requested,” for her property and will include walk-throughs and observations.

According to Hollingsworth’s letter Metrolinx will be inviting the public to meetings to be hosted in November.