I write to express my concerns regarding the proposed high-speed rail (HSR) segment planned for Kitchener to London. Although I agree with investing in improved passenger rail transportation in southwestern Ontario, I do not believe that the decision to build HSR between Kitchener and London is supported by any evidence to show that it makes financial, environmental or social sense.
Why does the environmental assessment (EA) not include the scope to study viable alternatives to HSR, such as enhancement of existing rail systems (i.e., GO, VIA and Regional Express)?
HSR between Kitchener and London will cut rural properties in half, create numerous dead-end roads and destroy at least 1,000 acres of Canada’s most productive (Class 1) farmland. Commuting times and maintenance and service costs in rural areas will increase, while values of affected properties will plummet. Local municipalities may face a funding crisis as a result. Businesses will be destroyed. There will be a loss of natural resources and habitat for wildlife.
Rural communities will be cut off from rail service, and emergency vehicles will have to drive longer distances to reach rural areas when a health crisis occurs. In dozens of towns and villages, the sense of community will be diminished. The cost to commute on HSR is projected to be 20% more than VIA (which is already unaffordable to many), making it unrealistic for either leisure travel or commuting. Commodity prices may increase and thus the cost of food will increase for all Ontarians. The cost of implementing HSR will likely exceed its already hefty projected cost of $20 billion.
The enhancement of existing rail systems can be implemented much faster than HSR, at a fraction of the cost and without the devastating consequences or risk of HSR.
With an investment of this magnitude, both in a monetary and non-monetary sense, our government must give careful consideration to all reasonable alternatives to HSR. The scope of the EA must be expanded to include the study of alternatives.
Thank you for considering my concerns. Will you please let me know what specific actions you are taking toward ensuring that the scope of the EA is expanded? I look forward to your response and will be pleased to answer any further questions you may have about my concerns.