Oxford County residents met Friday to discuss opposition to Ontario’s high-speed rail plan

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Concern over a proposed high-speed rail line that would run through the top of Oxford County drew almost 200 hundred local citizens to a farm near this Oxford County town Friday morning.

Formed only eight days ago, the ad-hoc group is worried the proposed rail line would slice their farms in two, suck up prime agricultural and deadhead all but three major arteries in the north end of Oxford County.

“Hopefully after this meeting we will become a mass of concerned citizens,” said speaker and farm co-owner Kelly Bickle.

The meeting was designed to educate, inform and launch opposition to the project.

The proposed rail line would stretch from Toronto to Windsor, stopping in Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo and London.

In May, Premier Kathleen Wynne announced the province would begin a $15-million environmental assessment study for a rail line that would carry high speed trains at up 250 km an hour between Toronto and Windsor. It would bring much of Southwestern Ontario into the commuter orbit of Toronto, Canada’s largest city.

Zorra Township Mayor Margaret Lupton told those gathered that the township “was 100 per cent behind what you are trying to do.”

“It’s pretty distressing for the people whose properties it is going to cross,” she said. “The idea of dividing farms . . . all the roads would be deadheaded. It would be much more than an inconvenience.”

East-Zorra Tavistock Mayor Don McKay also urged the residents to oppose the rail line that “we do not need in our community.”

“It will totally divide and destroy Zorra Township and East-Zorra Township as we know and love it,” he said.

Ken Westcar, of Transport Action Ontario and a member of All Aboard St. Marys, said the province should improve the rail lines already in place between Toronto and Windsor to streamline passenger rail service and help clear up congestion on Highway 401.

“I feel very passionately that this is not the right time or place for this,” he said.


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