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Metrolinx and Electrifying the Georgetown Corridor

Expanding commuter transit along the Georgetown Corridor will dramatically improve the Greater Toronto Area's public transportation network, which significantly benefits Torontonians by reducing commuter car traffic and enabling planning for more sustainable neighbourhoods and communities. However Metrolinx is proposing to use diesel run trains on the expanded lines, with plans to electrify the Corridor in the next fifteen years. TEA calls on Metrolinx to electrify the Corridor as soon as possible to reduce local health impacts associated with diesel exhaust.

TEA is disappointed that electrification is not being considered under the provincial Environmental Assessment Process for the corridor's expansion. Metrolinx has annouced it will study electrification of the entire GO rail system over the next year. While this is a worthy endeavor, TEA believes that the study of electrification of the Georgetown Corridor should be completed before the project is given final approval. Our provinicial decision-makers need this information to seriously consider electrification as an option at the start of expansion project, not a year or two into building it.

TEA supports recommendations recently made by the Toronto Board of Health to Metrolinx to expand their current health risk assessment studies to include a greater range of exposures and dangers associated with diesel exhaust, and to make the results available in time for the public to reasonably comment on them before Metrolinx finalizes its Environmental Project Report as part of the Environmental Assessment Process.

TEA also supports the Toronto Board of Health's recommendation that Metrolinx work with Toronto Public Health and other partners to prepare a Health Impact Assessment, which will better analyze the health risks and benifets of the expanded Georgetown Corridor on surrounding communities. (For more information about the Board of Health report:http: //www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2009/hl/bgrd/backgroundfile-21895.pdf)

Building public transit is essential to ensuring that the Greater Toronto Area keeps its environmental footprint in check and becomes a healthy and sustainable region. But we need to build transit with an eye to equity, transparency and use of viable technologies that reduce pollution.

TEA will continue to monitor the issue and look for opportunities to support local community groups with similar concerns and positions as ours.