Metrolinx slightly modifies construction plans amid calls to save Small's Creek

Feb 7 2022, 3:10 pm

Metrolinx made small changes to its GO expansion construction plan as residents called on the transit agency to save an East Toronto green space: Small’s Creek.

The GO expansion project would see the addition of a fourth track along the Lakeshore East and Stouffville lines, as well as a complete electrification of the railway, to bring faster and more frequent service. Construction, however, would require the removal of many trees and the implementation of a retaining wall through the green space — something residents worry will destroy the natural ecosystem.

During the February 3 City Council meeting, a motion requesting Metrolinx investigate and provide alternative proposals that reduce the impact to the ravine ecosystem to the City was passed unanimously. The decision even drew the attention of Canada’s Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, who thanked the City Council for their support in protecting the ecosystem.

The following day, Metrolinx President and CEO Phil Verster released an open letter to residents surrounding Small’s Creek reviewing changes that have been made to the construction plans, including a delay in construction to conduct further reviews, a change in the construction area that saved 60 trees, and the inclusion of a restored pedestrian footpath along the ravine at residents’ request.

According to Verster, however, an altogether different construction approach is not in the cards at this time.

“We reviewed the community’s proposals, and it is evident that the original approach continues to have the least impact on the ravine,” he wrote. “One of the alternative approaches considered a buried bridge where the fourth track would be supported by buried pylons or piers. This approach would require a large access platform to be built through Merrill Bridge Road Park. This would lead to more trees being cut down for the enlarged access, laydown and construction area.”

Despite the request from City Council to explore and present alternative methods, residents reported seeing tree-removal work continue at Small’s Creek on Friday.

Metrolinx says it will continue to work with the City of Toronto and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority to refine its restoration plan, which will include the planting of 2,000 trees.

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