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Rail rumblings shake family

Richard Paine’s house is a tiny grey square beside the wide red linethat represents the train tracks on Metrolinx drawings of the proposedUnion Station-to-Pearson rail link.

Richard Paine’s house is a tiny grey square beside the wide red line that represents the train tracks on Metrolinx drawings of the proposed Union Station-to-Pearson rail link.

In real life, though, shrouded in a new snowfall, the old grey stucco home looks like a Christmas card. The view from the French windows in the living room is a pristine slope down to the Humber River at the back of the property.

It’s paradise to the Paine family, who own the house on Humberview Crescent, just off Weston Road, that rare city home where deer and birds are regular backyard visitors.

The Paines have learned to live with the GO and freight trains that roar by 50 times a day. The animals, of course, scatter, said Richard Paine, 53.

He fears for their future and that of the river if the rail link plan proceeds and that single track is expanded to four, carrying what Metrolinx projects to be 220 trains a day, including 140 to the airport.

Paine won’t speculate on what it will be like when the expansion is finished in 2014. The Paines had hoped the rail link, stalled at the environment ministry for about two years, would just go away. But when the proposal to build the line and add all-day, two-way GO service to Brampton and Georgetown resurfaced last month, for a fast-tracked environmental assessment, their wishful thinking dried up.

“Obviously, selling is not an option,” says Paine, who grew up in what’s known as Holley House, named after its first occupant, Joseph Holley, one of Weston’s first settlers and owner of a nearby grist- and sawmill.

Dating from about 1845, Holley House is believed to be the earliest home still standing in an area studded with heritage jewels. It’s also one of the last remaining adobe brick houses in Ontario.

Paine believes his house, built on a foundation of river stone, is solid.

He’s not interested in seeing it turned into a heritage cause and he’s leery about it being used as a pawn in the political battle around the rail link, something to which Mike Sullivan, chair of the Weston Community Coalition, says his association is sensitive.

“We’re just making sure the planners know it’s there and they’ve got to protect it,” he said.

To Paine, Holley House’s importance rests in the memories there. His father, Samuel, bought the house in 1949. He and his wife lived there until their deaths a few years ago. Richard Paine has always lived close by, and his sons played there as children. The extended family gathered there for Saturday suppers.

“It was always central. The memories are here,” he says. “Every season is beautiful. The greens are different as they come alive. You can’t help but enjoy it.

“I just wonder how this is going to affect us.”

 
 
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