At this week’s General Committee meeting, Council discussed Pedestrian Grade Separated Crossings and Future Priority Crossings within Barrie GO Rail Corridor.
Council and staff have been discussing these crossings for many years. Going back to last term, Staff presented the Trails and Active Transportation Committee with crossings to prioritize; crossings identified as part of the Trails Master Plan, developed in 2011. The 2014-2018 Trails and Active Transportation committee prioritized the identified crossings; however, they voted against moving forward with the development of any of the crossings due to the very high costs and Metrolinx would not share in the costs.
Staff have, however, actively worked with Metrolinx to have the Town build and promote connectivity of the trails east to west within Aurora.
This Council had back in front of them the 8 identified crossings and the priority that has been given to them and the estimated costs associated with each crossing. The recommendation was to have all 8 be added to the 2022 budget 10 yr capital plan. While we would all, ideally, like to see these crossings built and continue to grow the connectivity of our trail systems, the reality is that it isn’t financially feasible. Adding all 8 crossings that total in and around the 30 million mark with no funding from Metrolinx means that the total cost would be borne by the residents of Aurora.
This has never been satisfactory. Last term both I and our former mayor were in constant talks with the CAO of Metrolinx to try and get them to fund part of these crossings as they move forward with the expansion of the rail line. It is a shame that the Province did not look at pedestrian crossings when they decided to move forward with the 15 min all day both way expansion; these crossing are an important way to help smaller communities from being cut off from one side to the other.
Well, after much deliberation, Council removed 7 and focused on one crossing that was of the highest priority – The cousins drive crossing. This crossing has always been #1 in priority and is a key part of creating that east/west connectivity. Council unanimously recommended “That Council identify the Cousins Drive pedestrian rail crossing identified in Attachment 2 as a priority and staff report back on the feasibility of funding the crossing as part of the 2022 Budget 10-year capital planning process.”
During the time from now until the 2022 budget I will continue to push hard with metrolinx to pay a share of the costs as they rightfully should. Stay tuned for further updates.