An influx of people migrating to Southern Ontario from other countries and other parts of Canada has resulted in growth in the Durham Region due to its economic opportunities and readily available resources including healthcare, food and consumer goods (Donnan, 2008). Specifically, from 2004 to 2014 the population in the Durham region increased by 16%; 6% higher than the overall increase in Ontario and from 2001-2011 the population in the Clarington county increased by 20% (Durham Region Health Department, 2015; Durham Transportation Master Plan, 2014). Population growth of this degree drives traffic congestion, resulting in increased demand for public transportation. Seventy four percent of people living in Durham leave the region to travel west to travel to Toronto for work via public transportation either bus or existing train systems (Durham Transportation Master Plan, 2014).
The GO Rail line named “Lakeshore East” currently services the area to the east of Clarington, starting at Union Station in Toronto and ending in Oshawa just before Clarington, neglecting this area’s growing transit needs. Traffic congestion from lack of public transit results in the loss of time, finances and other public resources, so a need for improved transportation infrastructure has been demonstrated. Authorities have partially addressed this need by proposing an expansion of the highway 407 through to the Clarington area, which is currently in its early stages of development. However, the need for increased public transit infrastructure, not just highways and roads, is demonstrated by the high use of existing transit systems to reach places of employment outside Clarington. Expanding the rail from Oshawa to Clarington will act as an effective solution to this problem and improve transportation availability throughout the greater Toronto area (Ibrahim & Gorys, 2008).
The 407 highway is set to expand from Brock road in Pickering to highway 35/115 in the Durham region, with the implementation of a new highway, 418, connecting the 407 to the 401 which will run along Solina road in the Clarington region (see Figure 1) (Highway 407 Project, 2016). Due to the population growth and its reliance on public transit in the Durham region, it would be beneficial to extend the current Lakeshore East GO rail line following the proposed expansion of the 407 in order to continue to mitigate congestion.
In order to expand the current Lakeshore East rail line, the site for a new station as well as the most cost-effective rail path to this station, need to be determined, based on numerous economic, environmental and sociological factors. A geographic information system (GIS) can offer rapid solutions to determining routes and suitable sites while simultaneously incorporating multiple variables and managing their large associated databases (Hosseini et al., 2012).
Various studies have proven the effectiveness and functionality of a GIS in projects of this type. For example, Raafatnia et al. (2006) showed that a suitable road network was created based on different factors (slopes, landslide hazards, future land use) using a GIS and it was noted that this method would replace other traditional but less effective methods used in Iran. Similarly a study done by Abdi et al. (2009) utilized the Multi Criteria Evaluation (MCE) procedure in a GIS to evaluate the costs of potential road routes based on six factors. Not only did this method create a suitable path while maintaining all the requirements, it also offered alternative possibilities based on different costs. This would act to enhance the planning process and to enable the planner to visually demonstrate routes to non-professionals involved in the decision making process, including political figures and investors (Abdi et al., 2009).
Purpose of Research
The purpose of this project is to identify the optimal location for a train station stop in the Clarington municipality within the Durham region, using an MCE, in order to economically transport people and mitigate traffic.