By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
A “momentous occasion”.
On April 12, MPP Grandville Anderson, Oshawa Mayor John Henry, and a number of Oshawa regional councillors were huddled in the wind at the site of the former Knob Hill Farms grocery store to unveil the ideation of the first step toward expanding the Lakeshore East line through Oshawa into Bowmanville.
There were no updates on the station itself, but for now, the province has announced it will be using a portion of the site as a Park and Ride location to allow commuters an alternative place to park in order to get to the extremely packed Bloor Street station.
“This is the first step in the GO train coming to Bowmanville,” Anderson said. “All the naysayers, you tell them this is happening and as long as I’m around, and hopefully after this election, it’s going to happen and it’s going to happen very fast.”
For Mayor Henry, the announcement is an exciting, but it comes with a bit of uncertainty.
“It’s great to be here today becasue this is the next step of a city that’s evolving,” he said. “This train station, when it’s finally completed will allow residents to move in and out of the city to go to work, but more importantly, get home to have a great family life.”
However, in speaking with The Oshawa Express ahead of the announcement, the mayor noted that he has serious concerns about what may happen with the plans after the June election.
“I am deeply concerned that some of the promises made may change, and that it will affect us. Lower-tier municipalities, regional government, have challenges with funding and meeting up with our asset management needs now, anything that puts another burden back onto a municipality in any type of downloading is simply not acceptable,” he says. “We have a voice and I’m going to make sure that this community’s voice is heard to all the leaders of the parties during the upcoming election.”
The current ideation of the GO East project includes four new GO stations, including two in Oshawa. The first on the site of the former Knob Hill Farms grocery store, located at 500 Howard Street, was expropriated by Metrolinx in 2014. The second, located near Thornton Road along the future extension of Consumers Drive, was recently the topic of a hearing before the Ontario Municipal Board. The developer, Halloway Developments, put forward an application to build on the site after two years of getting zero commitment from Metrolinx to purchase the property for the future GO station. When the city denied the application, Halloway appealed to the OMB, who eventually sided with the city, officially preserving the site for Mertrolinx’s purposes.