GO Transit outlines Stouffville’s future

Representatives from GO Transit gave a presentation in front of almost 50 onlookers tonight at the Whitchurch-Stouffville Council Chambers addressing Stouffville GO Station improvements and parking.

The presentation was then followed by an update by Town Staff on the proposed improvements for the downtown pedestrian crossing at the GO Station.

The presentations were “information sessions” requested by the Municipality to help residents fully understand what is being proposed and considered.

“We have received some complaints from the public regarding parking at the station” said Mayor Wayne Emmerson as he began the meeting at 7:00 pm.  “That is why we are here tonight. This is an information session.”

Gary McNeil, President of GO Transit, then gave a presentation updating the public on what GO Transit are currently doing to improve the facilities in Stouffville.

Highlights of the 15-minute presentation, including questions from the audience, include:

  • background information on the Stouffville and Lincolnville stations, including the opening of the Lincolnville layover station in 2008, the initiation of the 10-car train service to Stouffville in 2008 and the rehabilitation of the east parking lot in Stouffville in 2010;
  • the parking areas in Stouffville have a total of 243 parking spaces and according to GO Transit, they are at 113% capacity;
  • a parking lot with approximately 40 new spaces will open on 67 Edward Street this summer;
  • GO is planning to rehabilitate the west parking lot in the coming years;
  • Construction to allow for 12-car trains is planned for the summer of 2012. Ultimately GO would like to have all-day trains run to Stouffville, however than is in the distant future;
  • The cost to convert the current 10-car trains to 12-car trains is approximately $500,000 whereas adding an additional train to the Stouffville line would cost $40,000,000;
  • GO Transit has hired an independent consultant to provide an updated assessment report on the heritage significance and structural integrity of the grain elevator, which currently occupies GO Transit land. GO Transit did not name who this consultant is;
  • The Lincolnville GO Station parking lot is at only 25% usage;
  • According to CN rules and regulations, all trains that run n the Stouffville line, must be at 30 minutes apart.  This is largely due to the fact there are single tracks in some locations and few signals on the route;
  • GO Transit is planning a platform pedestrian crossing at the end of the platform so commuters can safely get to the west side of the tracks;
  • They will entertain the idea of paid reserved parking in the Stouffville lot if commuters show an interest.  Reserved parking spots would cost $75/month;
  • Asked by a member of the audience if a parking structure is feasible, GO Transit responded by saying it would cost between $50,000 and $60,000 per parking space in a structure, vs. $5,000 per space on the surface.  It is therefore not feasible at this time;
  • A ticket kiosk is coming soon to the Lincolnville station;

McNeil and Robert Pasiak, Communications Specialist – Railway Corridor GO Transit, took individual questions and comments from the public after the evening’s session concluded.

Paul Whitehouse, Director of Public Works with the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville, then presented an update of the proposed Main Street Crossing near the GO Station.  He was assisted by Andrew McNeeley, Director of Planning and Building Services.

Highlights of Mr. Whitehouse’s presentation included:

  • A study commissioned by the Town in 2008, suggested that a pedestrian crossing ‘protection device’ was needed east of the rail corridor.  It was suggested that it be located between Lloyd Street and the rail tracks.
  • This recommendation is based on pedestrian counts that were made between the rail corridor and Mill Street.  According to the Town, pedestrian counts totalled 570 persons per day;
  • GO Transit data from May 2010 suggests that the 5 daily trains generate approximately 355 passengers per day using the Stouffville Station;
  • Recognizing safety and vehicular issues close to the rail corridor – the Town recommends any crossing to be a safe distance away, preferably to the east;
  • The Downtown Stouffville Working Group (DSWG) is currently investigating opportunities for improving pedestrian movements throughout the downtown area, from 9th Line to St, James Presbyterian Church;
  • A future public information meeting will be held in May or June seeking comments on the Main Street improvements;
  • The DSWG has recommended to Council that a pedestrian crosswalk and curb extensions be considered adjacent to the rail corridor;
  • The option is currently being explored by Town staff from a design and safety perspective;
  • Council has allocated $50,000 in the 2011 Capital budget to address the curb extensions and pedestrian crossing;

In addition to the two presentations, the audience was reminded that the Town Council has passed an anti-whistling by-law that will eliminate trains blowing their whistles at all crossings in Stouffville except Main Street.  It will be enacted this summer.

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