Thursday, May 28, 2009

Over 400 Diesel Trains a day will run beside 76 Schools

In the Environmental Assessment as performed by Metrolinx, 'receptors', which are residences and families, along the corridor are viewed as less important than 'sensitive receptors', which are schools, daycare centers, and nursing homes. A family residence can also house young children and the elderly, so should be considered a 'sensitive receptor' as well, but this is an implicit admission that the projections of the toxicity of the environmental pollution will be very high as emitted by this diesel train corridor. The density of the population is 300 000 in 300 metres from the edge of this corridor, including a minimum of 30 000 school children, and 76 schools, daycare centers, nursing homes and parks. The second draft of the Metrolinx Environmental Assessment says that air quality is so bad in Toronto that a 15% increase in our air pollution is negligible as contributed by this diesel corridor - tell that to those who will wipe soot off their windowsills daily, and wonder how much of this has ended up in their lungs.

It is known that exposure to fine particulate matter in diesel emissions stunt the growth of young lungs so that they never reach full capacity, so electrifying the diesel train system in 15 years time to electric is not fast enough, as proposed by Metrolinx- these students will be a generation of young adults with impaired lung capacity. An environmental expert has gone on record to say that he would not live within 250m of this corridor as it increases all types of illness by 18% as the particulate matter is absorbed through the lungs into the blood stream to become heavy metals as an additional load for the kidneys to bear, and accumulate as bodily toxins permanently.

In my neighbourhood, the Newmarket and Georgetown corridors run directly beside the West Toronto Collegiate's running track. And I mean directly- the Newmarket corridor is beside the fence of the field, and the Georgetown is 75 meters from the Newmarket. So, as students have gym class, they will breathe the diesel emissions of both the Georgetown and Newmarket corridors, as well as the Air Rail Link, of up to 464 train trips daily, rushing by their playing field.

Tell me then- why is the federal and provincial government voluntarily, under the moniker of Metrolinx, with full, readily available environmental knowledge regarding diesel emissions, choosing to endanger the health of school children? And, as the City Council has a mandate to decrease greenhouse emissions by 80% by 2050, why is the federal and provincial government working deliberately against the municipal government's mandate? Why is the City Council not moving more quickly to actively protect Toronto residents and school children through *more* than strongly worded municipal bylaws? Why does the City Council view this as outside their jurisdiction when it will undercut the positive effects of their greening policies?

Will Metrolinx, by extension the the federal and provincial government, pay the difference in what our houses can sell for after this corridor is built as opposed to what they were worth before it was built? The immediate area around the rail corridor will quite possibly become a ghost town in parts of the west end as people choose to sell their houses and move away from the noise and the smell. Will MPAC, if the municipal government does not protect the interests of homeowners, give me a reduction on my rising property taxes as my property and quality of life are devalued? Will Metrolinx be willing to pay the additional burden of my own, and many others, rising health costs and sick days due to my proximity to the corridor, to OHIP?

And why is this diesel corridor being built in the first place when electric train engineering standards and specifications are readily available for electric trains and used throughout major cities in the world? New York's electric train system was successfully built in 1908, why is the GTA one hundred years behind?

There must be a reason why this irrational project is being pounded through the GTA, and I will discuss it on my next post.

For more information about this GSSE, please go to the Clean Train Coalition Site at and the Weston Community Coalition Site at