Metrolinx has created an online page for comments on a proposal to build a GO station in Innisfil (Metrolinx Engage). I added my cynical two cents and Rick Vanderlinde, of the Innisfil Journal, was kind enough to quote me in his newspaper article: “You would think they would build it where most of the ridership lives. That would be Alcona.” I went on to facetiously suggest that the Barrie South station could be moved to Alcona. I only wrote that because we were told a while back that Alcona was “too close” to Barrie to rate a station. And yet, Barrie can have 2 stations, Newmarket gets 3 and Innisfil gets zip. What’s the lesson here? The one that sprawls the most gets the most. That’s my point.
I have a feeling that a future GO station is destined for the 6th Line. The area was designated as the “South Alcona Urban Policy Area” in 2011 and has been part of the Sleeping Lion development plan for several years. It is as close as a GO station will get to support ridership in the “Primary Settlement Area”. The Innisfil Master Transportation Plan (August 2013) puts it this way:
“… the Ontario Growth Plan amendment for the Simcoe area in 2012 has designated Alcona as a Primary Settlement area, which necessitates a review of the station location in this TMP. An important component of the transportation plan is the connectivity of Primary Settlement areas with public transit services such as GO Transit.
An alternative GO Station located at 6th Line closer to the Primary Settlement area of Alcona was reviewed and compared with the 5th Line location in Lefroy. A 6th Line location can serve a larger travel market in Alcona (based on future population), has an opportunity to support high-density development and attract more walk and cycling trips to the GO station in support of the Provincial Growth Plan …”
So while Metrolinx has assessed ‘connectivity and ridership’ as Low at this location, Innisfil’s Master Transportation Plan anticipated high density development and a “larger travel market” – i.e. the Sleeping Lion development – as compensating factors. But considering that the South Barrie station is 8 km. from downtown Barrie, the 5th Line site for Innisfil might still be possible at 4 km from Innisfil Beach Rd.
The site selection process is at Step 4 of a six step process that requires more analysis and development of a business case. Many of the public comments, about 33 so far, posted online are along the lines of, “I don’t care where it is. Build the darn thing already.” I basically agree. The station won’t be ideal for everyone but wherever it is, it will be an improvement over driving to Barrie or Bradford, especially in winter. In about 10 years, with electrification and all-day GO train service, it will become more apparent what we got right and what might have been better in terms of both transportation and development.