Category: Clean Trains

Coloured acrylic noise walls proposed for Sorauren

Noise wall proposal for Sorauren Park including filled-in swale

Proposal for noise wall from Metrolinx/GO Transit and IBI Group

Landscape architects on contract to Metrolinx are proposing a transparent, multi-coloured acrylic noise wall for the park along the rail corridor.

The rail corridor is being expanded to accommodate the new Union-Pearson Express diesel rail link to the airport, and an increase in regular diesel GO train traffic. Provincial regulations require noise walls due to the increase in loud diesel train traffic. Metrolinx predicts traffic to increase from about 50 trains per day currently to approximately 200 per day by 2015, and more than 400 per day in the years afterwards.

The acrylic noise walls were presented this month to the community advisory committee providing input to Metrolinx. The full presentation can be found here (pdf). More information on the community advisory committee can be found here.

A full public meeting will be held in September to present refined designs.

Translucent noise walls proposed for Sorauren Park

Wall design proposed by Metrolinx/GO Transit and IBI Group. View from rail side

The 16-foot-high acrylic walls would extend from the edge of the condos north of the park, south across the entire east side of the park, continuing behind the future community centre and the east end of Wabash Avenue. A different design—precast concrete with transparent top ribbon—would continue south of that point, behind the homes on Macdonell.

Metrolinx has also proposed filling in the existing swale between the top of the berm in the park and the Metrolinx property line, marked by the existing chain-link fence (see illustration). But no decision has been made on the swale.

Members of the community advisory committee have told Metrolinx that the view from Sorauren Park is an important feature worth preserving. At the same time, members are concerned about graffiti on the walls.

The City of Toronto has ruled out willow-based “green walls” primarily because of ongoing maintenance costs and less-effective noise mitigation.

What do you think? Would these walls invite graffiti? Would vine-covered walls be preferable? Maybe a combination of the two, so kids can still watch the trains through “windows” in the wall? Should the swale be filled in? Should it be filled in high enough to create a better toddler toboggan hill? Should the “no wall” option be explored pending further discussions on electrification and real vs predicted noise levels?

Feel free to use the Comment function below to join the conversation. Also watch for news of the September public meeting… sign up for the Sorauren Park News email newsletter, and follow us on Twitter.

For related stories on the rail corridor including the fight for electric rather than diesel cancer trains, click here.

Railpath extension and green noise wall events in late June

The rail corridor is a defining feature of Sorauren Park, and two upcoming events may inspire you to embrace the corridor in new ways… never mind the cancer trains!

As part of the corridor’s expansion to accommodate approximately 200 diesel trains per day in 2015 instead of the current 50 or so, Metrolinx is planning to build noise walls taller than the Berlin Wall in certain areas, including the park. While the walls may be warranted in some areas, many people are opposed to Metrolinx’s plan, especially when it shows images of vinyl and concrete wall examples that would be graffiti bombed in about two seconds.

On Tuesday, June 25, 7 p.m., Perth Avenue Housing Co-Op, 120 Perth Avenue, Brown & Storey Architects will outline a green alternative. Come out to embrace the rail corridor with green ideas, pathways and bridges rather than walls!

An exciting development on the other side of the corridor is the planned extension of the West Toronto Railpath south from its current terminus at Dundas Street West, down to the Strachan Avenue area with a possible connection to the planned Fort York pedestrian and cycle bridge, which would link to the waterfront.

On June 26, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m., at New Horizons Tower, 1140 Bloor St. W. at Dufferin, there will be a drop-in-style open house to introduce the public to the West Toronto Railpath Extension Study. The possibility of a bridge to Sorauren Park is also up for discussion. Be still our beating hearts!

Metrolinx electrification open house June 10, 11, 12

The provincial government, through its transit agency Metrolinx, is now undertaking an environmental assessment to study electrifying the Union-Pearson Express air-rail link after first building a diesel system to meet the Pan Am Games deadline in 2015. UP Express diesel trains will run by Sorauren Park 140 times a day (added to the current 50 or so trains a day currently).

Metrolinx is holding a series of public open houses to share a project update and seek feedback on issues such as traction power supply, power distribution, and maintenance requirements.

Metrolinx also claims the diesel trains it is buying for UP Express can be converted to electric propulsion. UP Express electrification would be a first step to electrifying the entire GO train network.

Four open houses will be held, all from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. The remaining three dates are:

  • Monday, June 10, Metro Hall
  • Tuesday, June 11, Mimico Presbyterian Church
  • Wednesday, June 12, Mount Dennis Legion

GO has done a good job compiling electrification information, including more details on open house times and locations, at its website. Train nerds rejoice: It gets nerdy.

More information on the dangers of diesel trains (diesel exhaust is a carcinogen) and the lost opportunities with a slow, loud, polluting, and more expensive diesel service can be found at the new website,, as well as on the Sorauren Park rail corridor pages.

Metrolinx changes construction plan; no dump trucks

Thanks to a strong community response and leadership from the Roncesvalles-Macdonell Residents’ Association, Metrolinx has changed its plan that would have seen up to 30 dump truck per day rumble along Wabash, Macdonell and Rideau for track construction.

Metrolinx has found an alternate solution and will not be using our local streets. Metrolinx will continue to use the 40 Wabash Avenue site (behind the linseed oil factory) to store their work materials but will access the site from the rail side. The work is expected to start very soon and last until the fall 2014.

The construction is related to the expansion of the Kitchener-Georgetown rail corridor with more tracks to accommodate the new Union-Pearson Express air-rail link and expanded GO train service.

Read Metrolinx’s Response_to_May_22_ Community_ Meeting regarding the construction.

Read Metrolinx’s East Corridor Grading, Track and Signals Construction Update – June 7, 2013

May 22 meeting to discuss Metrolinx construction at park

Councillor Gord Perks is holding a meeting to discuss the Metrolinx proposal to use the area behind 40 Wabash Avenue as a staging area for track work. 40 Wabash Avenue is the address of the abandoned linseed oil factory, the future community centre, and the land is owned by Parks, Forestry and Recreation. The access point is at the intersection of Wabash and Macdonell.

Metrolinx says it needs the space for approximately 20 months, starting this June, and predicts up to 30 dump trucks a day on neighbourhood streets during peak times. For more information, visit the Roncesvalles-Macdonell Residents’ Association website.

Meeting details:

Wednesday May 22nd, 2013 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Fern Avenue Public School – 128 Fern Avenue

Councillor Perks, Metrolinx and Parks Forestry and Recreation staff will be reviewing details of the proposed staging area.