By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
Expanding the GO train further to the east could generate millions of dollars, if not more, for the local economy, according to a new study.
The report, prepared by the Arup and Altus Group, finds that by expanding the Lakeshore East line through central Oshawa to Bowmanville, there is a potential for up to 21,000 new jobs, the development of 6,000 new homes within walking distance of the four proposed GO stations and the associated 6,000 construction jobs. The final report also finds the expansion would significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by eliminating 50 million private vehicle kilometres a year, the result of which could save residents more than $70 million annually in time, vehicle costs and improved road safety.
“This is a great story, not just for Oshawa,” says Mayor John Henry.
“It makes sense, the (environmental assessment) has been done, all the leg work that has happened to date is already there, we’re way ahead of other municipalities that are trying to figure this out.”
Henry says the latest information delivers the “true story” of what the expansion could do, adding he has followup meetings with the minister of transportation “very shortly” to discuss the matter.
While the item has been on the province’s to-do lost for some time, still awaiting proper funding, Henry says there’s no better time than now.
“It’s been promised to us for a long time, over eight years they’ve been talking about this. It needs to be on their radar, it needs to be started now and we need to move people from the eastern part of the GTHA into the city.”
In a letter to the city, Stephen Del Duca, the province’s transportation minister, says the project is an opportunity the province hopes to move ahead with in 2016, even identifying the project in this year’s budget.
“Subject to agreement with freight rail partners, the extension of GO rail service to Bowmanville was identified in the 2016 budget as one such investment,” Del Duca writes.
“This is a significant step forward and I appreciate the efforts to date by the ministry, Metrolinx and municipal representatives from Durham Region in maintaining an open dialogue on this issue.”