By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
An upcoming meeting will shine a light on how the future expansion of GO Train service into the region’s east end could look.
Metrolinx is hosting a community open house in Oshawa tonight (May 22) from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Civic Recreation Complex’s Bobby Orr Room.
The meeting will focus on four proposed options Metrolinx is considering to extend the Lakeshore East line further into Oshawa, Courtice, and Bowmanville.
After the provincial transit authority held a meeting earlier this month, local politicians voiced surprise to learn four options were on the table.
The expansion was originally announced by the previous Liberal government in 2017, with a timeline of construction beginning in 2019, and train service underway in 2023/2024.
Two stations were announced for Oshawa, to be located near Thornton Road and Champlain Drive, and the former Ontario Malleable Iron Company building on Howard Street.
Stations in Courtice and Bowmanville were also included.
Durham regional chair John Henry told The Oshawa Express he assumed the project would be moving forward under these circumstances.
“There is also a public perception when the Premier of the province makes a commitment, whether it’s this Premier or the previous Premier, that things are going to happen,” Henry said. “The real question that I pose is – is that commitment going to be honoured…that the train will be there in 2024 because residents of our communities have made investments in their lives knowing the train is coming.”
Henry said local patience is wearing thin, both from commuters and politicians.
“This is at least the 10th event I’ve been to where they’ve talked about the train going into Clarington and additional stations in Oshawa. We’ve talked long enough, and now it’s time to see the eastern residents of the GTA get their equal service…,” Henry said.
But Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster maintained, despite prior announcements, the project’s design and timeline are undecided.
“I cannot really talk about what timelines other people have committed to before, I can only say that we have a very structured process by which we do business cases, take options to government, government makes decisions and we implement them as soon as we can,” Verster told The Express.
Oshawa MPP Jennifer French said the unclear situation is worrisome to her.
“It’s disappointing when it comes to the Bowmanville GO extension that we are looking far down the road, and I still have no idea what it will look like,” French said. “I don’t know if those options will be what’s best for Oshawa, so I’m looking forward to having more details.”
Shortly after the meeting, Durham MPP Lindsey Park released a letter addressed to Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek.
In the letter, Park claimed Metrolinx officials discovered the project unveiled by the Liberals would cost twice as much as estimated, take years longer than the stated timeline, and would only provide four peak-time trains, not all-day service.
“It is unfortunate that the Liberals recklessly announced their plan before the feasibility, preliminary design and cost estimates were fully completed,” Park wrote. “That is not how a responsible government would deliver real transit relief to commuters.”