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Residents gear up to fight plan to 'cut Weston in half'

Go Transit link up for debate at April 28 meeting

Mar. 25, 2005

Running a modest business in Weston selling stationary goods and small giftware hasn’t been easy for Squibb’s Stationers store owner Suri Weinberg-Linsky.

“This past Christmas was one of the worst we’ve ever had,” said Weinberg-Linsky, attributing much of the lost business to big box stores like Business Depot and Chapters. “It’s a flippin’ miracle we’re still alive.”

She credited her local customer base, from the new immigrant population to the loyal longtime residents, for helping keep the doors to the Weston Road store open for the past 78 years.

But now a proposed rail link from Union station to Pearson airport might shut down her business for good, Weinberg-Linsky said.

The plan involves potentially closing off Church, King and John streets that run east-west to allow the privately owned airport link called Blue 22 to run along the expansion of the Georgetown GO Transit line.

Federal safety regulations would forbid level crossings at those intersections as a result of increased train traffic along the GO line due to the proposed air-rail link.

“You’re not allowing the people to move freely from the two sides of the community,” argued Weinberg-Linsky, noting the current plan would literally cut Weston in half. “You lose the ability to attract people to your store.”

She and other area residents and business owners will get their chance to demand changes to the rail expansion plan at the rescheduled April 28 public consultation meeting.

The initial public meeting organized by GO Transit two weeks ago was cancelled for safety reasons when an estimated 1,500 local residents showed up at the Bethel Apostolic Church - nearly triple the capacity of the building.

The April meeting has been relocated to the much larger Faith Sanctuary, which seats about 4,000 people, at 1901 Jane St. from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

GO Transit officials will discuss the environmental assessment and alternatives regarding the proposed air-rail link as well as answer questions from concerned community members, said Stephanie Sorensen, GO Transit corporate communications.

“At this point, nothing has been decided,” she said.

The alternatives previously suggested include building tunnels or

bridges to allow trains to pass however both those options are more expensive than closing off local streets.

Ward 11 Councillor Frances Nunziata (York South-Weston) said she, like her constituents, opposed any street closings.


“You’ll have chaos with traffic on all the other (surrounding) streets,” said Nunziata, instead wanting the federal government to put in the dollars to build an underpass for the Blue 22 Line. “If not, then just cancel it.”

Nunziata added that she intends to advertise in local newspapers and get the word out to as many residents as possible to voice their opinions at the upcoming meeting.

Weston resident Mike Sullivan, who intends to be there, is still unconvinced that GO Transit is being as transparent as it can be.

“There’s a whole lot more questions than answers,” said Sullivan, who has lived on Church Street since 1992.

For one, Sullivan doesn’t understand why there’s just one environmental assessment being conducted (by GO Transit) when he sees the expansion of the Georgetown GO Transit line and the Blue 22 airport link as two separate projects.

He also wants to know whether the construction of tunnels, bridges or pedestrian walkways if the roads do close will be paid by the public purse through GO Transit or by SNC Lavalin, the private owner of the proposed Blue 22 line.


Sullivan is also afraid Weston will become a “ghost town” becoming virtually inaccessible to drivers from other areas of Toronto therefore affecting business as well as the lively atmosphere.

“What’s left now is a bunch of dollar stores and a bunch of drug stores,” he said. “There’s not much.”

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