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Wilmot residents not pleased with Ontario's high speed rail plans

Map from the Ministry of Transportation.

About 200 people gathered Wednesday night at the New Hamburg arena to hear presentation about the proposed high speed rail line connecting Toronto with Kitchener and London.

Many of those 200 people are concerned about how the new line would disrupt their lives.

The new rail line proposed by the Ontario Government would cut through Wilmot Township somewhere east of New Hamburg.

The concern from residents is that it will result in the severing of farms, the loss of farmable land, the closing of rural roads and the creation of dead end roads.

Wilmot township resident Angie Hallman says many of her neighbours are starting to realize their lives will be affected, “So many people didn’t know that when you hear high speed rail and they are hearing Toronto to London they don’t really think it’s going to be in their back yard, until you show them the map and depending on where this falls in Wilmot this is literally in your backyard. ” said Hallman.

Hallman says cutting up farms and closing roads would have a serious impact on farmers.

“Most farmers work land parcels around the community, we need to get our equipment to different many different parts community, with the high speed rail system going through you have now eliminated those access points to different parcels of land. ” said Hallman.

Hallman notes it’s not just lost time for farmers, they are also losing some of the most valuable farm land in Canada,

“The OFA (Ontario Farmers Association) commented that south western Ontario has the lowest crop failure rate in Canada, so you are jeopardizing the most valuable farm land in Canada, according to the OFA.” said Hallman.

The advocacy group Transport Action Ontario is opposed to the current high speed rail option and says the best way forward is to improve VIA Rail and GO Train service on existing rail lines to avoid the impact of creating a new line.

The proposed high speed rail line is still in the environmental assessment phase, construction is scheduled to begin sometime in the mid-2020 and not completed until 2030.

The plan calls for trains to travel 200 km/h along electrified track that could connect from Union Station in Toronto to Kitchener in 48 minutes.