On the face of it, Mike Sullivan and his Weston neighbours have already made significant gains in their fight to stop their community from being split apart by a train that’s supposed to connect downtown Toronto with the airport.
Transportation planners laughed three years ago when the Weston Community Coalition, chaired by Sullivan, suggested that, at the very least, such a train should stop in their neighbourhood.
The latest version of the Union Station-to-Pearson train plan, unveiled by Metrolinx last week, includes not just a stop, but a full GO station in Weston. The proposal also involves tunnelling the track in the most intrusive section under King and Church streets (in the Jane Street and Lawrence Avenue area) and connecting nearby John Street over the tracks with a footbridge.
So why is Sullivan, a full-time union rep, again rallying the neighbours against a proposal that could be reality in five years? Is the labour rep for the Communications, Energy & Paperworkers Union of Canada just spoiling for a fight in his off hours?
He stresses he’s not against the air-rail link. But he wants the government to consider alternatives, including a subway. And he’s offended taxpayer money would subsidize a private company, SNC-Lavalin, in building and running it.
Sullivan can’t accept the notion of big, noisy diesel engines — no matter how clean they’re supposed to run — whooshing through the neighbourhood, metres from schools, homes and churches.
“If you want to make it world-class, it’s got to be electric,” he says.
Once the project is complete, Sullivan contends it will be the busiest diesel corridor in North America, with a freight or passenger train running through every three or four minutes, 20 hours a day.
Dan Harris is not a member of the Weston Community Coalition, but he thinks Sullivan, his friend and neighbour, has a point.
“In this day and age, it’s hard to understand how you could build such a train and not make it electric. He is castigated for saying reasonable things,” says Harris, a labour arbitrator and lifelong Weston resident.