Guelph residents upset by plans to put Metrolinx power substation in park

Crenda King hopes her neighbours speak out about plans by Metrolinx to build a traction power substation in Guelph's Margaret Greene Park. The transit agency says it needs a substation to electrify the rail line between Kitchener and Georgetown.

Metrolinx says it will 'sit down to understand whether there is a better alternative'

Two people walk a dog along a trail the leads to Margaret Greene Park in Guelph. Some local residents are upset with a plan by Metrolinx to put a power substation in the area, which could impact people's access to the trail. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Crenda King wants her neighbours to speak up now to stop part of a park in Guelph's west end from becoming the new home of a traction power substation for Metrolinx.

Metrolinx has plans to eventually electrify the train line and the substation would be needed for the section of track between Kitchener and Georgetown. To do that, the agency says it needs to build the substation in Guelph and it wants to put it on a small piece of land in Margaret Greene Park.

King and some others who live in the area are against the idea.

"On their slides, they have it as vacant land, which is so not true. It's not vacant. It's a park. There's a trail," she said.

"A lot of families use Margaret Greene Park for their backyard. They ride their bikes through the trails, there are picnics in the park."

Crenda King lives in the neighbourhood and is a member of the West Willow Village Neighbourhood Group. She wants people to speak out about the project to Metrolinx, the city and MPP Mike Schreiner. (Crenda King/Submitted photo)
King, who is a board member for the West Willow Village neighbourhood group, also noted the area where the substation would go is a trail which she says connects many people living in the neighbourhood to nearby shopping, jobs, a library branch and a recreation centre.

"However small of a piece of the park that they want, it does cut off that trail and that is a huge transportation hub for people who don't drive," she said.

City doesn't support site

The city says it has been in talks with Metrolinx about the substation, but only learned in June that the agency wanted to put it in Margaret Greene Park.

On its website, the city says it does not support that plan.

"Parkland is important to our community, and in fact the city wants more parkland, not less. We've let Metrolinx know this and asked them to reconsider other sites for this infrastructure," the city's website says.

In a post about the project on its own website, Metrolinx says there are no immediate plans to electrify the line "so there's plenty of time to refine the technical proposal to account for the public feedback we have received."

"We have heard loud and clear that there are concerns about the preferred location for the traction power substation in Guelph and we will sit down to understand whether there is a better alternative," Metrolinx said.

It is currently accepting public feedback on its website until Aug. 28.

'Just not in our park'

King says she hopes people go to the website and tell Metrolinx what they think of the project. She says she's not against the plans to electrify the line.

"As much as we support the idea, just not in our park. There are other development lands that are available and actually vacant where this project could be moved over there," she said.

She's encouraging people to reach out to city councillors and Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner to share their thoughts.

"Definitely it doesn't feel like our concerns are being valued, it doesn't seem like there's a lot of value being put on that land," King said. "We want to make sure that it's known the land is not vacant and it is very, very valuable to those people who use it."

A weathered poster against the Metrolinx power substation project hangs on a post along the trail to Margaret Greene Park in Guelph's west end. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)


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