Corp Comm Connects
Mayoral hopeful Tory includes Markham in transit plan

May 28, 2014
Markham Economist & Sun
By Amanda Persico

Toronto politics are putting a spotlight on Markham’s transit fight.

This project - a 53 kilometre line, dubbed SmartTrack - brings the Stouffville GO line into the limelight, something Markham has been working on for more than two years.

“I’m happy this is coming out,” said Regional Councillor Jim Jones, who has been pushing for GO rail electrification for some time.

“I’m glad John [Tory] is saying something and has a position on this.”

The SmartTrack plan will run on existing GO Transit rail lines across Mississauga, Etobicoke ending at the Unionville GO Station and will connect with the new Eglinton LRT and the Yonge-University subway line.

Markham has been pushing for all-day GO service along the Stouffville rail line for some time.

The Stouffville GO line could act as a downtown relief line, Jones said.

“I was laughed at by some collegues at Markham council when I talked about the Stouffville line,” he said. “Now, I’m getting calls to get working on the Stouffville line because it’s a winner.”

Tory’s plan also talks about connectivity along the various transit lines cutting across Toronto.

“Connectivity is just as important as service,” Jones said. “That’s what we need, versatility on the lines.”

The next step is to start planning transit stations, he added.

Last month, the city endorsed Metorlinx’s and GO Transit’s environmental assessment plan with several of its own conditions.

The assessment looks at the Stouffville GO line between the Scarborough Junction and the Unionville GO Station that will allow for double tracking and all-day, everyday two-way service.

For more than two years, Markham has been pushing for anti-whistle zones, electrification of the line as well as secure funding models.

The city has also asked for the assessment to go beyond the Unionville GO Station and farther north to Major Mackenzie Drive.

GO Transit, meanwhile, has not addressed Markham’s issues.

The city has also taken the lead on developing a working group that includes Markham, York Region, Toronto and Metrolinx for the future of the corridor.

According to Tory’s new plan, it will take about seven years to build and about $8 million to fund GO rail electrification and new trains.

Tory plans to fund a third of the project by leveraging property tax revenue over 30 years.