If the Town is remotely serious about getting a new GO rail station at Mulock Drive it should buy the land it needs now. The site, already identified by Newmarket planners as a suitable location, is up for sale. It was the home of the former Magna armoured vehicle facility.
The 15 acre site at 402 Mulock Drive is almost directly opposite the Town’s HQ. It is on the market for $7,995,000. The property details describe it as being adjacent to the hydro corridor and on the rail line though the spur is not currently in use. It is available immediately.
Metrolinx is now actively working on its new stations strategy for the Barrie line and will be drawing up a shortlist over the winter months 2015/16. They say the new station shortlist will be based on public consultation and further analysis.
Circles on a map
Who knows if there is anything more to the Town’s pitch for a new station at Mulock Drive than a few circles on the map? Are there background papers? Has any serious work been done? How has the proposal been developed and taken forward? Have any steps been taken in closed session to buy the land that is now available? If not, why not? The Chief Administrative Officer, Bob Shelton, may well have warned councillors of the perils of going down that road, telling them the Town is not in the business of railways. After all, he told them years ago in secret session that the Town was not in the business of running golf courses. And the open spaces of Glenway are now being built over.
A new GO rail station at Mulock Drive would be transformational - though getting the thumbs up from Metrolinx would be no easy matter. If the Town is coming from a standing start I fear it will be impossible.
Regional Express Rail promises fast frequent services and every station slows the journey down. Aurora, Mulock, Newmarket and East Gwillimbury come in quick succession. The arguments in favour of Mulock have got to be persuasive.
Safeguarding the GO rail station site
When Metrolinx gave its presentation to York Region's Committee of the Whole on 10 September, our Regional Councillor, John Taylor, asked if there were any provisions for safeguarding land that might be needed for a future GO rail station. The answer is no. New stations are not funded beyond those already planned.
York Region’s response to the Metrolinx Regional Express Rail plan does not flag up Mulock Drive as a priority. Indeed it is not mentioned at all except by way of another circle on Map 11 of the Regional Official Plan where it is one of “a number of new stations recommended for inclusion in the GO Transit network”.
All this shouldn’t come as a bolt from the blue to councillors. The Town’s Planning Department has an important horizon scanning function and they have been drawing little circles on maps of Mulock Drive for years.
Planning chief, Rick Nethery, must have known what was coming down the track. It’s time he shared his insights with the rest of us. Time is running out.