Good morning Guelph,
I have found it best to look at the work being done or considered by Metrolinx by identifying two key issues.
- Downtown Rail Line Upgrades
- Margaret Greene Park Power Station
In regards to the Downtown Rail Line Upgrades, I’d like to address the Dublin Street closure first. Contrary to some continued misinformation circulating within the public for some time now, I’d like to state the following:
This particular portion had to be closed to meet the Transport Canada Federal Rail Safety ACT and Standards. Period. This was NOT a city of Guelph initiative. The city was told by Metrolinx that it had to close. There was detailed information about this through a report posted publicly and I’d ask people to read it to understand more fully the issues at play here: https://pub-guelph.escribemeetings.com/filestream.ashx?DocumentId=4158
Lastly, regarding the other rail crossings downtown, rest assured I can confirm that there are already plans from city staff in reviewing these areas and it will include public engagement. Staff have indicated the following:
1. City Transportation Planning team will be initiating a transportation study of the neighbourhoods on the east and west sides of Edinburgh later this year.
2. The general purpose of the study is to (among other things):
- Confirm whether a grade separation of Edinburgh Road is warranted
- Provide the necessary data to inform the scope of a future potential EA for grade separating Edinburgh Road
- Evaluate and propose recommended active transportation crossing locations east and west of Edinburgh and recommend preliminary design option(s) for crossings.
3. There will be an engagement component to this work, and potential to bring the report to Council for endorsement if that is desirable. (This report IS coming to Council because as Mayor I’ve requested it to).
The Terms of Reference for the study have not yet been started, so more details will emerge once the work begins.
Now let’s move on to the second issue identified which is the proposed Power Station on Margaret Greene Park:
Let me be very clear on the position of the City and myself:
“Improved rail service and the associated environmental benefits from electrification are an important part of our Strategic and Community Plans, the City does not want the TPS infrastructure in a City park. Parkland is important to our community, and in fact the City wants more parkland, not less. As such, we’ll be encouraging Metrolinx to reconsider their selection.”
The city has a dedicated website link for the community to gather info on Metrolinx work and will be updated as new information is known. Please bookmark this link here and come back to it often:
Some more Q & A to consider:
This is a Metrolinx project/process:
- Metrolinx has initiated a study (environmental assessment) for future electrification of the rail line from Kitchener to Acton, through Guelph.
- The purpose of Metrolinx’s study is to select sites for electrification infrastructure, including locating a proposed Traction Power Substation (TPS) in Guelph.
- Currently, through virtual engagement, Metrolinx is seeking community feedback on their preferred site for the TPS in Margaret Greene Park and other changes related to electrification of their rail line.
- This is the second of three public information events. The first occurred in November 2019 (seeRound 1 tab at above engagement link).
What is the City’s role in the TPAP EA and site selection process?
- The City has provided Metrolinx with technical information related to siting the TPS in Guelph (see below).
- In April, City staff provided input on a number of possible sites for the TPS, including Margaret Greene Park.
- In June Metrolinx advised us that their preferred site for the TPS was Margaret Greene Park and that they would be engaging the community on this location.
- The City can raise concerns and provide Metrolinx with feedback, but Metrolinx makes the final decision for site selection and can (if necessary) expropriate lands for this use. Our opportunity lies in ensuring that the TPS design mitigates impacts to our community.
How is the City advocating for the community?
- Rail improvements are specifically identified in the City’s Strategic Plan as a priority under Navigating our Future.
- The City provided Metrolinx with the following feedback on Margaret Greene Park as a potential location for Metrolinx infrastructure:
- This site is currently zoned as parkland (1975) and is bounded to the south by the rail corridor and the north by the rear yards of houses on Ferman Drive and Lisa Lane.
- A large portion of the park is identified as a Natural Heritage System (NHS) in the City’s Official’s Plan. Official Plan policy indicates development and site alteration are prohibited in the NHS. An Environment Impact Study is typically required when development/site alteration is proposed within 120m of Significant Woodland. Should this site be considered by Metrolinx, the following steps are required:
- Field verify the limit of the Significant Woodland and establish the NHS boundary.
- Assess whether any unmapped natural heritage features occur in close proximity.
- Prepare site plan/development footprint.
- Assess impacts on NHS, including a tree inventory and preservation plan to assess impacts to trees and establish appropriate compensation (tree planting to make up for lost tree canopy cover).
- Identify appropriate mitigation and enhancement measures to support the NHS.
- There are existing trails through this park parcel that must be maintained. Parks staff has noted the sensitivity in the community to the amount of parkland and that careful communication would be required around how the proposed infrastructure affects parkland.
- Per the City’s Zoning By-law, any structure built in a park requires setbacks of 6 metres and 7.5 metres depending on what is considered the “front yard” for the structure.
- There is an underground sanitary sewer that more or less is installed under the existing trail.
What are the next steps?
- Metrolinx will consider public feedback as part of their final analysis, narrow down the exact location for the TPS within the broader site, then develop conceptual designs for the TPS.
- The City will have a chance to provide additional feedback on the final location and design concepts as they are developed.
- Metrolinx will host a third open house to present designs concepts with the public (planned for winter 2021).
- After the third open house, Metrolinx will complete their study and file their report which provides another 30 days for public comment.
What’s being planned related to potential grade crossing closures?
- Metrolinx is conducting a review of all at-grade rail crossings in Guelph and beyond, but no decisions have been made beyond the Dublin Street closure.
- Metrolinx has agreed to collaborate with the City as the review moves forward; our next meeting to review Guelph’s at-grade crossings with Metrolinx is Friday.
- While Metrolinx may request additional closures the City is advocating for them to explore all options before proceeding with any action, e.g., are there engineering solutions that can be done instead of closures, keeping in mind that some costs for needed upgrades to keep at-grade road-crossings open may fall to the City.
- The City has asked Metrolinx to engage the Guelph community as part of any potential work associated with grade-crossings; if they’re not prepared to do this the City should engage around this work.
What other Metrolinx initiatives are there in Guelph?
- Metrolinx is working on several initatives in the community that relate to asset management, improved speed/service, etc. These include:
- Improvements to grade crossings ahead of increasing train speeds and twinning of tracks
- Review of train warning options (to avoid the use of train whistles)
- GO Station improvements including design of a new south platform
- Maintenance or replacement of rail bridges and culverts
- The City is also preparing to relocate locomotive 6167 to John Galt Park before the end of this year. The initial information can be found on here: https://guelph.ca/living/construction-projects/locomotive-6167/
Thank you for your continued engagement and remember, this is a Metrolinx process and your feedback through their process is key. Please fill out your concerns to them here: https://www.metrolinxengage.com/en/content/kitchener-corridor-guelph-wellington