Metrolinx partners with Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and Parks Canada to plant more than 12,000 trees and shrubs at Rouge National Urban Park

This investment kicks off Metrolinx’s extensive ecological compensation effort to offset the planned changes to rail corridors in preparation for GO Expansion infrastructure.

Metrolinx is growing transit across the region.

With the massive GO Expansion project on the horizon, rail corridors across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area will be changing over the coming years as faster and more frequent GO service will operate on a lot of brand new infrastructure.

That means new tracks, switches, signals and more.

To fit and protect these new investments and to optimize rail corridor safety, Metrolinx will establish a vegetation control zone, where growth will be limited or restricted and promote growth of native and pollinator species.

To make way for this substantial transit expansion project, Metrolinx is going to have to remove trees and shrubs from within the rail corridors in the coming years.

That’s why Metrolinx is funding the planting of approximately 4,800 trees and 7,500 shrubs at Rouge National Urban Park by Parks Canada and the TRCA over the coming months.

Metrolinx is funding the planting of approximately 4,800 native trees and 7,500 shrubs at Rouge National Urban Park. (TRCA photo)

This is the first in a series of similar initiatives Metrolinx will be coordinating and funding across the region in the coming years.

Metrolinx has been working with municipalities and conservation authorities across the GO service area to fund reforestation efforts that will actually increase the tree count in the entire region.

Metrolinx will plant more than 30,000 trees with our partners across the region, to compensate for approximately 6,200 trees that will have to be removed from within its corridors to enable safe rail operations.

A field of young trees and saplings in a field in Rouge National Urban Park
Metrolinx is working on replanting trees early as future GO Expansion construction work will require the removal of trees and other vegetation. (TRCA photo)

“As part of our commitment to sustainability we will go above and beyond the regulatory requirements and actually increase the vegetation cover across the region, while we build a system that will deliver two-day, all day GO Train service for years to come,” said Matt Clark, Metrolinx’s chief capital officer.

To illustrate Metrolinx’s commitment to sustainability, we have developed a compensation strategy, highlighted in the science-based and highly vetted Metrolinx Vegetation Guideline.

“We thought it was important to start the plantings early,” Matt continued. “By working closely with local conservation authorities we have been able to develop an approach that allows us to deliver the new infrastructure while making the region a much greener place.”

Tree removals within Metrolinx corridors will start in early 2021 and will be phased throughout the GO network over the next few years.

A field of young trees and saplings in a field in Rouge National Urban Park
These trees and shrubs will help increase the tree cover in Rouge National Urban Park for decades to come. (TRCA photo)

This story is just about one specific initiative related to the GO Expansion program. But as the expansion of GO Transit services and facilities is huge, and covers areas where trees and shrubs have to be dealt with for the safety of future transit, there are other projects and conservation and compensation strategies underway.

Stay tuned for more similar stories about Metrolinx’s sustainability initiatives and exciting partnerships over the coming months as we build toward GO Expansion.

If you’d like to learn more about this initiative, here are some additional resources:  

Metrolinx:
Metrolinx Vegetation Guideline
GO Expansion Program
GO Expansion / OnCorr public consultation (round #3 coming this fall)


Story by: Robert Pasiak, Metrolinx communications senior advisor