Updated April 12, 2010: Metrolinx has dropped the appeal of the CTA’s order. The Star quotes Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne:
“This is about working with the community and repairing any damage that has been done and building a good relationship,” said Ontario Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne.
“These transit projects are going to be going to go on for a number of years, as they should be. That means there will be disruption in the communities,” she said.
But the government is committed to working with residents to make the process as comfortable as possible, said Wynne.
Updated February 3, 2010: Metrolinx, continuing in the friendly tradition of GO Transit on this project, appealed for a stay of the order of the Canadian Transportation Ageny claiming that their project would be unreasonably delayed. Today, a court ruling denied the Metrolinx appeal. When more information about this ruling is available, I will link it here.
Updated December 11, 2009: On December 7, the Canadian Transportation Agency issued its final order requiring that GO Transit implement measures to correct noise and vibration problems at the West Toronto Diamond project. This is an important victory both for the community and against the arrogance of GO who record of community involvement and sensitivity in the Weston corridor leaves much to be desired.
This will also set a precedent for the coming grade separation project at the Davenport Diamond, the crossing of the CN Newmarket Sub (the Barrie GO line) with the CP North Toronto Sub. This work will be part of a larger upgrade of the Barrie GO service.
The original post from October 9 follows:
The Canadian Transportation Agency has ruled that GO Transit’s pile driving activities at the West Toronto grade separation project breach their duty to cause only reasonable disruption to the community around the work site.
The Canadian Transportation Agency finds that GO Transit is in breach of its obligation under section 95.1 of the Canada Transportation Act to cause only such noise and vibration as is reasonable, in relation to GO Transit’s pile-driving activities at the West Toronto Diamond. The Agency found that, in the circumstances, the prolonged exposure of the local citizens to the noise and vibration generated at that location is unreasonable. [From a summary of the CTA ruling of October 8, 2009.]
The full order is not yet final because GO Transit has been given 14 days to respond, following which the complainants (a local citizens’ group and the City of Toronto) have a further 5 days to counter whatever GO may file.
Among the salient findings:
- Noise measurements by all three parties to the complaint show that people around the work have been subjected to ongoing noise levels well above those that, in a workplace, would require hearing protection under health and safety legislation.
- Although GO has made attempts to reduce noise, the CTA believes that GO is not fully implementing all reasonable measures possible considering the nature of the noise and the neighbourhood in which it is created.
- “The Agency is of the opinion that the speed with which the project can be completed should not be the determinative factor in the method of construction given the nature of the noise and vibration caused by this project and the impact on the community. The Agency also notes that GO Transit has failed to provide any commercial feasibility arguments or financial impact analysis to support its position that extending the completion date of the project would be unreasonable.”
The CTA requires that GO:
- Use an alternative pile driving technology and noise containment measures that reduces noise levels to reasonable levels wherever possible.
- Restrict their hours of work to the period between 0800 and 1600 on weekdays.
- Provide weekly noise and vibration measurements.
- Develop a website, to be updated daily, to
- communicate project status and notice of changes including current pile-driving activity, projected activity for the next two weeks, and any projected periods of inactivity;
- have an email and phone line “both to be answered by a person knowledgeable about the project and its schedule” with 48-hour investigation and response time; and
- host the weekly noise and vibration reports, an assessment of any mitigation measures, any complaints received including the response and resolution, and any changes to the project schedule.
At this point, the order is at the “show cause” stage where GO must submit any arguments as to why the order cannot or should not be implemented.
This decision relates to the same Weston Corridor that is under dispute between various community groups and Queen’s Park. GO’s treatment of the neighbourhood around the grade separation project is an example of the poor “corporate citizenship” shown by that agency, and has contributed to the distrust in which any dispute between the wider public and GO is held.
Fortunately, the Canadian Transportation Agency’s job is not to make GO and Metrolinx look good, but to address the facts of a valid complaint. We must now await GO’s formal response and the final form of the CTA order.
[I have not linked the full 24-page letter containing the CTA’s findings because it is a PDF of a FAX, and is extremely large. When a smaller online version is available, I will link to it.]