Friday, 2 September 2011

A letter to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty on the electrification of the Georgetown rail corridor

The Honourable Dalton McGuinty
Room 281, Main Legislative Building, Queen’s Park
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A1

Re: electrification of the Georgetown rail corridor

Mr. McGuinty,

I live in the Toronto neighbourhood, the Junction Triangle, so named because it is bounded (closely) on all three sides by intersecting rail lines.

My purpose in writing you today is to express my concern about your government’s plan to expand the use of diesel trains—by nearly ten times—along the Georgetown rail corridor (one of the three lines that borders my neighbourhood), and to voice my support for electrification of the line. I believe you understand the facts of the matter, since Metrolinx (along with many others past and present) has already affirmed that electrification is the logical next step for rail along the corridor. I expect you have heard facts and arguments from the Clean Train Coalition and other public interest groups, and I hope from your own caucus members from the affected ridings. So I will try to be brief.

Please understand that I support rail expansion. I believe it is extremely important—so much so that it is almost the only issue of importance for me and many others in this coming election—and I applaud you for acting to improve rail transit in Toronto and the surrounding areas.

First, simply put, diesel is the past, and as a citizen I resent wholeheartedly that you would waste my and my family and friends’ money on something that is already out of date and which will only serve to waste more money in the future. It seems like madness to me. I further resent as a citizen and human that you would spend my money to effectively poison me and my neighbours for decades to come. That is a conscious betrayal. I do not trust that the purported benefits of new technology will pan out as claimed. And the fact remains that diesel technology belongs to the past.

Second, I understand that the province made some sort of promise to the organizers of the Pan-Am Games that Toronto would have in place some sort of effective transportation option from the airport into the city for the games. Perhaps that promise involved trains, which puts Metrolinx on a tight timeline, but this is a poor argument for moving ahead with the wasteful and dangerous diesel plan. If we have made a foolish promise, it is better to take it back and make amends than to follow through.

The diesel plan is disrespectful to our Pan Am guests and more so to Ontarians. We should be showing how well and intelligently we do things here—how we plan for the future. We should be setting an example for the Americas and the world. Instead, we are insulting everyone by choosing to live in the past. And there are options. Designated busways/lanes for the duration of the games could easily transport athletes, guests, visitors, and others between the airport and various destinations. Has your government considered this option? The GO system itself could be used to greater effect if shuttle buses travelled from the airport to nearby train stations.

Third, you have made many claims of building a green economy in Ontario and generally advancing a green agenda. How can anyone trust such claims when you insist on moving ahead with such an environmentally unsound project? This is dishonest, and I cannot understand it, especially when the choice is so easy. Don’t let your past and ongoing investments and initiatives in the environment be overshadowed by this pointless move.

Finally, know that this is an election issue, and it is one that could cost you and your party their leadership. You must know at this point that your past accomplishments mean very little when facing opponents that are dedicated to change and an electorate that sees your government as complacent. Proponents of rail electrification are united and their numbers are growing. They are vocal and they are right and they will only support candidates who support electrification.

I believe that you, too, know electrification is right, and I suspect you would prefer to do it right the first time. If you think your hands are tied by the Pan-Am Games or finances or anything else, know you have options. Consult the people of Ontario, in whom you have said you believe so strongly, and they will give you solutions. You have the power and you can make the Georgetown rail corridor electrification happen, as you have with numerous other worthwhile causes over your tenure as premier. You can be the person who finally brought Ontario’s rail system into the modern era. Or you can be the premier who poisoned thousands of Ontarians for no good reason.

Please make the right choice.

Thank you very much,

Adam Gorley

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