Metrolinx has identified several planning and transit improvement projects within Whitchurch-Stouffville in their “Draft 2041 Regional Transportation Plan” (RTP), released in September. The plan guides the work being done to transform the transportation network in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area.

Municipal council was updated on those initiatives, which include the electrification of the Stouffville GO train corridor, expansion of the layover facility in Lincolnville and a new Lincolnville GO station at Tenth Line. Council was also asked to not endorse a plan by the provincial Crown agency to charge riders for parking at the proposed Lincolnville station and the current downtown Stouffville station.

According to the RTP, only 32 per cent of riders travelling to Toronto by GO arrive at their suburban station via a mode of transport other than a single-occupancy vehicle. Metrolinx wants to double that number by 2041. To help achieve that objective, Metrolinx suggests recovering the cost of parking at GO stations to help shift trips to modes that do not require parking.

“While charging for parking may work at GO stations that are well connected with local public transit, it will likely encourage more GO customers that cannot walk or take transit to the station to search for local municipal parking,” said Rob Flindall, public works director and project lead of the town’s recent parking study. “Charging users for parking at any of the current or proposed GO stations in Whitchurch-Stouffville could add to the parking issues we already face in town. We may start to face issues where GO riders seek free parking in other areas of the town, reducing the availability of parking for businesses and residents.”

“As such, staff believes Metrolinx should consider differentiating this policy between mature urban areas and suburban areas,” he added.

“Locally, in Whitchurch-Stouffville, this policy will help reduce the number of vehicles on the roads and ease rush hour traffic congestion around the GO stations,” said Haiquig Xu, development services deputy director. “However, it will also require the town to increase development density and put more people within a 10-minute walk of the stations.”

Council passed a motion asking Metrolinx to reconsider charging of GO transit riders for parking in Whitchurch-Stouffville stations. They also approved submitting comments from staff regarding the plan. At the meeting, Councillor Iain Lovatt suggested asking Metrolinx to make all-day GO train service, from Union Station to Lincolnville, a reality “as soon as possible.”

Council was also updated on Metrolinx initiatives in Whitchurch-Stouffville and the surrounding area, including an environmental assessment study for the electrification of the the Stouffville corridor of the GO rail network; construction of the Bloomington GO station, slated to open in 2019; identification of the impact of construction-related disruption and noise due to the increased number of trains, train whistling, and safety at level road-rail crossings; the expansion of the existing Lincolnville layover facility, to be completed in 2019; and identification of the land south of Bethesda Side Road, west of Tenth Line, and immediately east of the rail line as the site for the new Lincolnville GO station.

According to Metrolinx, electric train service would see peak-period train service double and off-peak train service quadruple by 2025 throughout southern Ontario.

“Metrolinx has outlined some ambitious projects in the Whitchurch-Stouffville area which will only help to alleviate some of the transportation woes in the Greater Toronto Area and reduce the negative effects of diesel engine emissions on human health and the environment,” Xu said. “Residents should look forward to these improvements over the coming years.”

“The Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville certainly advocates the use of public transit and these initiatives set forth in Metrolinx’s 2041 Plan help achieve goals that will benefit everyone,” he added.

Visit metrolinxengage.com/en/collections/draft-plan to view the plan.