Against the advice and wishes of local city councillors, Member of Provincial Parliament, Member of Parliament, Toronto City Council, city planning staff and renowned Canadian urban planning experts, Metrolinx will push ahead with its contentious plan to build a massive overpass through Toronto’s Davenport community.
Today, the provincial transit agency will begin its expedited “Transit Project Assessment Project” — or TPAP — that will (1) only examine the overpass option, ignoring requests from the community and elected representatives to study all three options: a tunnel, trench, as well as the overpass, and (2) bypass the proper “Environmental Assessment” — or EA — process typical of large infrastructure projects.
As a result, local grassroots group Options for Davenport will be launching its own EA into the Davenport Diamond Grade Separation. This environmental assessment will be conducted over the next four months and will examine each of the three options using criteria from the province’s own EA framework.
“More than 1500 residents have joined our group’s efforts. Among them are talented architects, engineers, designers, professors, lawyers, and artists. It’s become clear that Metrolinx is bent on takng shortcuts so we’ve concluded that the only way to find answers to our concerns is to utilize the talent within our community and dig those answers up ourselves,” said Options for Davenport spokesperson Sam Barbieri.
Options for Davenport plans to execute its study in three phases — overpass, trench and tunnel — over the next roughly 120 days. Further details will be released in the coming weeks, but the group is planning extensive door-to-door community consultation and polling, as well as monthly neighbourhood meetings.
Chair Laura Zeglen acknowledges that their grassroots EA is not going to be as technically thorough as the kind of report that Metrolinx could have produced given the group’s resources, but she believes people are going to be surprised — and impressed — with what they come up with.
“The bottom line is this: Davenport residents are going to have a say, in a meaningful and real way, in what happens to their community,” said Zeglen.
“Metrolinx has made some encouraging adjustments to their plans recently, but they haven’t gone far enough. There is still no dedicated public realm improvement funding, no commitment to a stop in the neighbourhood, no clear plan for noise, vibration and pollution mitigation. And their decision to move forward with the TPAP against all advice is troubling,” she said.
“If Metrolinx won’t study the options, we will.”
Source: Options for Davenport, January 28, 2016 / Contact: Sam Barbieri, spoksperson: firstname.lastname@example.org