Transport Action asking Peel to conduct study on future of Orangeville railway lands

March 21, 2022   ·   1 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

Transport Action Ontario, which is an advocacy group for integrated public transit, sent a letter to the Region of Peel last week, regarding its interest in acquiring Orangeville-Brampton Railway lands.

The letter, written by Transport Action Ontario president Peter Miasek on March 8, noted the $24.25 million sale of five acres of land by the Orangeville Railway Development Corporation (ORDC) to the City of Brampton, and Peel’s recently approved motion, which stipulates:

“That staff investigate the feasibility of acquiring the Orangeville-Brampton Railway Lands located in the Region of Peel from the Orangeville Railway Development Corporation (ORDC) for purposes such as a recreational trail and utilities, and report back to Regional Council at a later date with findings”

In Miasek’s letter he said Transport Action strongly encourages the purchase of the Orangeville Brampton Railway corridor from the ORDC by Peel Region, and that a full comprehensive study on the railway’s potential future be conducted.

“We feel it is important for this corridor to remain in public hands,” the letter reads.

Miasek’s letter lists six important factors for the Region of Peel to consider before any final acquisition decisions are made.

The first consideration is the incoming population increase for Orangeville, Caledon, and Brampton.

“Even in a post-pandemic environment, this will put additional stress on area roads including Highways 10 and 410 used for commutes into the GTHA and the burgeoning commercial centre surrounding Pearson airport,” reads the letter.

“The Orangeville-Brampton rail route will be critical to road congestion and vehicle emissions mitigation. It is potentially an existing low-cost solution to an otherwise expensive future mobility problem when existing GO bus services can no longer meet the need.”

If Highway 413 is cancelled, the need for additional transportation infrastructure to northern Peel into Dufferin will become even more pressing, the letter noted.

The second consideration highlighted in the letter is the Toronto Region Board of Trade’s (TRBOT) published report, called “Getting on the Right Track – Connecting Communities with Regional Rail”. The report envisions using the current 450 km network of existing and legacy rail corridors to create a true regional rail system with 10-minute or better headways.

The vision in the report is “anywhere to anywhere, anytime”.

“The report is an excellent guide to best practices and what can be accomplished by harnessing the full potential of the rail system in Greater Toronto, building upon the planned GO Expansion program,” the letter reads. “The TRBOT called for the preservation of the OBRY for industrial freight service, as well as a possible future use for light-medium commuter rail. We urge Peel region to consider the relevant recommendations of the TRBOT Report as part of the feasibility study process.”

The third consideration in the letter is that the preservation of still intact rail corridors is a societal priority.

The Provincial Policy Statement says “preservation and reuse of abandoned corridors for purposes that maintain the corridor’s integrity and continuous linear characteristics should be encouraged, wherever feasible,”

In light of this, Miasek’s letter states, “we urge Peel Region to conduct a comprehensive feasibility study to assess the scope of protection of the rail ‘right-of-way’ for the OBRY corridor, which might include preservation of a viable short line rail operation, in tandem with other uses.”

The fourth consideration is that short line railways can co-exist with trails and are an important strategic asset.

“We argue that they are superior for freight movement (environmental, congestion relief, lower cost if sufficient customers) and provide future corridors for passenger rail as well as existing corridors for tourist rail. And it is feasible to combine rail-with-trails (RWT) on active corridors, which is being done in many jurisdictions,” the letter reads.

The fifth consideration is that that the fate of the rail corridor should involve public consultation.

“Ideally, we urge Peel Region to undertake a feasibility study process that prioritizes robust public consultation among a broad range of stakeholder,” the letter states. “One which effectively aligns a vision for the entirety of the OBRY corridor with existing objectives in the Transportation Master Plan (TMP) for Peel Region, as well as plans such as the Brampton’s “Integrated Downtown Plan”, Brampton 2040, Peel 2051, and other relevant planning initiatives.”

The sixth and final consideration is that the National Trade Corridor Fund (NTCF)presents a funding opportunity. The organization, which started in 2017, is set to distribute $4.2 billion by 2028.

The NTCF helps fund infrastructure projects, such as railways or short line rail services, to improve the flow of trade and fluidity of supply chains.

“The NTCF has a strong track record of working with municipalities to establish a healthy long-term funding model supporting (even re-opening abandoned) industrial rail operations, just like the OBRY,” reads Miasek’s letter.

“We have already made initial outreach to the NTCF through their ‘continuous-call’ for proposals, and believe that a strong case can be made for successful application by Peel Region, targeting the revitalization of the OBRY and addressing the growing transportation challenges that mounting highway congestion presents throughout and around Peel Region. Initiating an application to the NTCF in 2022, and aligning the process with the stated goals of the proposed ‘feasibility study’ to be presented to Council could result in an enormous economic benefit, while also securing a revitalized trade rail corridor for the future, as defined in vision for Peel 2051.”

Readers Comments (1)

  1. Susan Graham says:

    I am a 6th generation farmer landowner in inglewood. We already have the CalledonRail Trail cutting through our active farm and wish fervently that the abandoned OBRY line is offer to the landowners /farmers I. Ward 1 Caledon to maintain the slogan ofCaledon’s official plan safe the farmland, wildlife corridors and mitigate climate impact


Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.