The region’s approval of the Yonge North subway extension is derailing democracy and ignoring concerns about lasting damage to the community of Royal Orchard, say residents of Thornhill who are campaigning against the road running under their neighborhood.
After more than six hours of discussions and deputations on February 3, York Region Council voted 17-4 in favor of Metrolinx’s current plan and asked the provincial transit agency to consider a compensation package “improved”.
“The only thing we haven’t said is that we’re okay with the roster, but I think Metrolinx has been saying all day that’s the roster going forward, so it’s okay. That’s where we are,” Regional Chairman Wayne said. Emerson.
The decision was met with “disappointment and disgust” by the steering committee of the campaign to keep the Yonge North (YNSE) subway extension on Yonge Street, who say elected officials have dismissed residents’ concerns; delivering them to “collateral damage”.
“By accepting Metrolinx’s alignment at face value, York Region councilors have demonstrated a flagrant disregard for their duty to protect the welfare and interests of the voters who elected them” , said steering committee co-chair Ian Reid.
He added that this goes against Markham and Vaughan Councils’ support for the originally approved alignment which continues straight up Yonge Street versus the new alignment which passes under Royal Orchard.
Reid singled out Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti in particular for leading the decision to accept Metrolinx’s proposed route despite vowing to support residents’ concerns about “lasting harm to the community of Royal Orchard.”
Scarpitti, who has long championed the subway expansion as the region’s most important project, clarified what Reid sees as a turning point in his political stance, saying he supports the city’s official rejection of the route. from Markham in June because he came with conditions.
“This was not just a rejection of the alignment, but a request for Metrolinx to consider alternative alignments to keep the subway on Yonge as much as possible…to minimize impacts to the existing community and compensate affected property owners. “Scarpiti said. in his remarks, adding that the transit agency did.
He added that there is no greater commitment to a project than to fund it, and that is precisely what the region has done with the 1% tax increase in the December budget towards the the region’s 22% share of the Metro’s $5.6 billion fare.
Markham regional councilors Don Hamilton and Jack Heath – who voted against the motion in regional council with Vaughan member Joe Li and Linda Jackson – said it was a stretch to say the tax levy pledge amounted to an approval of the route and said more discussion was needed. with Metrolinx.
“We need to honor the residents, and the compensation program needs a lot more work,” Heath said, adding that when you invest $1.2 billion, you should have a say down the road.
County of Thornhill Keith Irish is adamant that the Yonge Street alignment is clearly the ‘better way’, just as financially viable and less risky.
Many residents who made deputations at the meeting agreed, citing concerns about vibration and noise, impacts on student learning and mental health.
This included delegates representing 350 residents of the Gazebo condominium on Yonge, who expressed vehement opposition, concerned about the devaluation of their units and, with the Florida condominium collapse last year weighing heavily on their minds, d possible structural damage to the 50 year old building. .
Students at St. Anthony’s Catholic Elementary School and at least 450 residents will see the subway pass beneath them up to 300 times a day and nearly every 90 seconds during rush hour, Reid said, adding that commuters on the metro will travel directly under the CN trucks. freight corridor.
Allowing the project to continue will have significant mental health consequences, resident Dev Chopra said, adding that it is already impacting people’s well-being.
“Do people have to die before we can get Metrolinx’s attention?” he said. “We are not sacrificial lambs for future growth.”
STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Journalist Heidi Riedner has looked at the impact of York Regional Council’s decision to back the Yonge North Underground extension into the Thornhill area which it will tunnel under.