OPINION: GO may pull into Beamsville station

 

Sometimes, one just has to accept a gift, say thanks, and move along, even when there is no realization as to how such a gift found its way to the door.

For my money, that is what Town of Lincoln should be thinking after it was announced Monday they are now on the roster of potential GO rail stations as the transportation service expands its way to Niagara Falls in the coming years.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great step for Lincoln. The connectivity, economic power, and value to the community is tremendous.

Lincoln – as a whole – has not awoken yet to the tsunami which will wash over it when it comes to development in the next 5-10 years and this confirmation by Metrolinx will both speed and inflate that pressure considerably.

Grimsby has been under water of late when it comes to development and shows no signs of gaining control. Lincoln has only had a handful of projects roll out to the public but they will continue in quantity and scope at a steady pace.

GO, while it drives up property values considerably, also brings very specific headaches Beamsville residents in particular need to be prepared for. Grimsby has worked through the early stages of planned intensification in the immediate area of the proposed Casablanca project but no shovels have hit the ground and won’t for a couple more years.

There is a radius around approved locations where, pretty much, all normal planning guidelines are off. Meaning the densities which will be allowed in these areas is nothing like Niagara West has ever seen in terms of height and number of units.

Other than massive economic impact – jobs, property values, workforce connectivity – there is nothing overly positive about it. If you are happy in your little community and like it quiet and sleepy, the impact of GO is not for you. It never will be. It is not something you will get over. It will simply be something with which everyone will have to learn to live.

There have been a lot of things in recent years which have put Lincoln in a stronger and stronger position, not just in Niagara West but in all of the region.

Time and time again the municipality has been at the forefront on a wide array of projects, whether it be economic development, shoreline protection, major projects, downtown planning – and all with an eye to creating strong community partnerships along the way.

When I came to this area in 1995, Grimsby was the “have” town and considered the surrounding area as the “have nots”.

Grimsby still has lots – despite recent and ongoing problems – but Lincoln is barely recognizable to its mid-1990s self and West Lincoln is well on its way to prepare for a prosperous future as well. With the new community centre as an anchor, West Lincoln is launching its Smithville Master Plan process as well.

So the news is very good for Lincoln; a major notch on the belt for sure.

What I don’t get is how such an approval would come from Metrolinx. The key concern of all involved when the first announcement came that GO would be extended to Niagara Falls was the need to shorten the ride into the GTA.

With so many road crossings and the number of stops, Metrolinx officials were looking at ways to reduce the trip times – to the point where closing off some roads to eliminate crossings may be considered so trains don’t have to slow at those points. That could still  happen.

So aside from trip length, the flow of ridership is also part of the mix. Without doubt, a Beamsville location will take the pressure off parking in Grimsby as the ridership will be divided. That is a good thing.

I find it hard to believe ridership would go up more than a handful with a station in Beamsville, though. If someone wanted to go into TO or head to the Falls, they would still depart from Grimsby, right?

Maybe their plan is to proceed with Beamsville and drop Grimsby? We’ll find out.

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