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Hopefully worth the long wait

george longley cartoon

(Cartoon by George Longley)

Walking into a government press conference without even an inkling of what will be announced is somewhat of a rarity.

But last week when Durham MPP Lindsey Park approached the podium at Bowmanville’s Garnet B. Rickard Recreation Complex, it’s safe to assume local politicians and residents weren’t 100 per cent confident they were going to hear good news.

The expansion of rail transit on Metrolinx’s Lakeshore East line has seen its share of stops and starts (unfortunately not by any actual trains) for more than a decade.

So the excitement and jubilation in the air when Park announced Metrolinx would be presenting a route similar to the one preferred by the City of Oshawa and other municipalities was something to behold.

Originally announced in 2016, most in Durham assumed the expansion would be moving forward with an estimated completion date of 2023 or 2024.

However, in May 2019, the Ford government and Metrolinx revealed the plan was going back to the drawing board, with four possible route options up for review.

At the public meeting where this was announced, you could feel the life being sucked out of the room like the air escaping from a balloon slashed with a knife.

For months, Mayor Dan Carter and Regional Chair John Henry, among others, have pleaded with the province to continue on with the original planned alignment.

And if the Metrolinx board of directors sees fit on Feb. 20, that plan will move forward.

It appears taking a second look has paid off as well, as Park reports the increasing costs of the expansion have been curtailed, and the benefits to investment ratio has improved enormously.

Perhaps the best news in the entire story is if things move forward, train service at the four new stations between Oshawa and Bowmanville will be all-day, instead of the peak-hour only service envisioned by the previous Liberal government.

However, based on past experiences, it’s understandable if a cloud of anxiety hangs over all of this, as we’ve heard a lot of the same before in Durham Region.