The Metrolinx Board today included additional criteria for assessing proposed new GO rail stations as part of its ambitious Regional Express Rail program.

The Town of Newmarket flagged up Mulock Drive as the potential site of a new rail station although it is unclear what practical steps the Town has taken to advance the case beyond the Mayor, Tony Van Bynen, telling Metrolinx Chief Planner, Leslie Woo, that it is a “priority”.

There is nothing to suggest the Town has made any moves to purchase the land at Mulock Drive which has been up for sale for months. It is on the market for $9,500,000. Last October the asking price was $7,995,000.

The Town’s approach has been altogether far too leisurely given that the Metrolinx Board will be meeting on 28 June 2016 to consider a list of recommended new stations.

When evaluating proposed new GO Rail Stations, Metrolinx will now ask itself:

How well situated is the station in relationship to future market demand?

Can the station support future development and intensification? What is the likely timing?

Metrolinx will look at the number and scale of recent development proposals. (You can check out the updated key criteria here at page 19 of the new stations report.)

Leslie Woo told the Metrolinx Board that including economic development potential as a criterion for assessing new stations will mean further discussions with municipalities. Her report says

“Surrounding development potential was noted as an important lever for municipalities to support transit-oriented design and broader policy objectives for intensification. That potential should be reflected in the evaluation.”

Whether that basic spadework on Mulock Drive has been done by the Town – or, indeed, the Region, is doubtful. As I said months ago, the proposed GO Rail Station is nothing more than a circle on a map. There is no evidence that anyone has done any serious thinking about putting a new station there. Certainly not the Director of Planning, Rick Nethery, who spends his time gazing out of the window while telling everyone else his staff is overworked.

Van Bynen, who is too often a spectator when it comes to big decisions rather than a prime mover, has four months to make the case for Mulock Drive.

I can’t see it. Van Bynen is a cautious gradualist.

He was careful not to create a fuss when Metrolinx announced the all-day two-way fifteen minute train service would terminate at Aurora.

"In my own mind the difference between a 15 minute and 30 minute service doesn’t change the world immensely although I think eventually we’ll need to get there. But I’d rather see us easing into that, responding to the demand as we go forward.”

In the same way, it would be completely out of character for the cautious Van Bynen to take to the barricades over Mulock Drive. He will wait, sniff the wind and see what happens.

And, as a result, nothing will.

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