Local communities benefit from Metrolinx transit projects

Landing a good paying job, with transferable skills, gave Renee Roy a stable income and the opportunity to make a home. She’s now an Operating Engineer apprentice working on the Eglinton Crosstown project and her life has changed dramatically since she started working with Crosslinx Transit Solutions, the consortium building the future LRT line.

“I wasn’t getting full hours before Crosslinx. I was from site to site and job to job all across Ontario,” Roy said. “As soon as I went and got into the apprenticeship program, it’s like the doors are all opening.”

The opportunity she’s been given comes from a program that recognizes the need to give back. The Metrolinx Community Benefits Program began with the Eglinton Crosstown project and offers local residents the chance for employment, training, apprenticeship.

Local suppliers, vendors and organizations from the communities where work is taking place are given an advantage above others. Working with social enterprise organizations has helped create other types of job opportunities, while helping to ensure more money is put back into the local economy.

Newcomers to Canada and those living in historically disadvantaged communities can find it challenging to find work, particularly in their fields. With opportunities in professional, administrative and technical jobs and chance to build up their skillsets,

Rosemarie Powell, Executive Director for the Toronto Community Benefits Network has seen firsthand how people have benefited from this Metrolinx program.

“We’ve seen some amazing outcomes for people.” said Powell. “This [approach] develops a sense of pride in the community, and ownership, and just a real good will toward the development.”

This was the case with Ayman Shash, now a Utilities Project Coordinator working on the Eglinton Crosstown project. Shash moved to Canada in 2016 from Abu Dhabi after a career in infrastructure. Everything changed once he attended an employment session and was hired soon after.

“In the end, our mission is to connect our communities. And we do that even better when there are more local benefits for those communities,” said Phil Verster, President and CEO of Metrolinx.

The Metrolinx Community Benefits Program has set a new standard for projects being integrated into communities. It’s now being replicated, not only for Metrolinx’s other LRT projects and GO Expansion, but with organizations across Canada.