East Toronto community members sent a 400-foot long message to Metrolinx yesterday demanding that the provincial transit agency not cut down more than 200 trees and build a concrete retaining wall in Small’s Creek Ravine.
Residents, along with local politicians and candidates from both the Liberal Party and the NDP, joined with the residents at the event held in East Lynn Park late on the afternoon of Thursday, Sept. 16.
“We can’t seem to get through to Metrolinx, so this a 400-foot message to them,” said Mitch Robertson of the Friends of Small’s Creek group that organized the protest.
Area residents have been in dispute with Metrolinx over the impact that the agency’s plans to build a fourth rail line along the Lake Shore East rail corridor will have on Small’s Creek Ravine in the area northeast of Gerrard Street East and Coxwell Avenue.
Metrolinx’s plan for that fourth line will see 268 trees (a number of them mature oaks) removed from the north end of the ravine by the tracks and replaced with a 400-foot concrete retaining wall.
To symbolize exactly how long that wall be, residents created a replica of its full length by holding large cardboard signs end-to-end with messages written on them calling for Metrolinx to “respect” the community’s concerns and come up with a better plan for the building of the fourth line through the ravine.
Robertson pointed out that the Friends of Small’s Creek are in favour of the line and the expansion of public transit, but they feel there is a way to do so through the ravine that protects the natural area.
However, he said negotiation with Metrolinx on the issue have been one-sided and alternatives suggested by Friends of Small’s Creek are not being taken into consideration.
“We’re showing the community what we will see in Small’s Creek with a concrete wall,” he said of the 400-foot message. “We think there is a better way.”
Holding a part of the sign in East Lynn Park on Thursday, Beaches-East York MPP Rima Berns-McGown told Beach Metro News that Metrolinx needs to start listening seriously to the concerns regarding the plans for Small’s Creek Ravine.
She said the sign should send a powerful message to Metrolinx.
“Metrolinx has to take this seriously,” said Berns-McGown. “They do a terrible job of informing communities. They have to be told that they can’t destroy ravines and they have to pay attention here to this community that cares.”
She said she will be making a motion at Queens Park to hold Metrolinx more accountable to communities for its actions and to take a more comprehensive look at the alternatives that the Small’s Creek group has put forth.
Berns-McGowan wants Metrolinx to plan its projects with an ecologically sustainable approach and to more fully consult with communities on work it plans to do on transit systems.
“The problem is a systemic issue,” she said of Metrolinx which was created in 2006 by provincial government of Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty to lead, design and deliver transit systems in Ontario.
“It was set up not to be accountable, and the previous government has to be blamed for that. The current government has made it worse. Metrolinx needs to be accountable and get away from destroying ravines.”
In a statement sent to Beach Metro News on the afternoon of Sept. 17, Metrolinx said:
“We are strong believers for transit and the environment. Metrolinx has met with the group throughout the year and reviewed their alternative proposal with the project engineers. The retaining wall is still the safest options, and the one that impacts the ravine the least.
“We have also reduced the number of trees to be removed by 1/3, and increased the number of trees to be replanted by seven times — planting up to 2,000 native trees and shrubs to replace the approximately 200 trees we will remove for the work. Since the majority of the trees in the ravine were invasive species, the native restoration will leave it in far better shape than today.”
Metrolinx said more information on it’s Small’s Creek Ravine plan is available at:
For more on the plans for Small’s Creek Ravine, please see our earlier stories at: