A review of the station project
- Train Station operation - On November 5, 2001, the doors of the Markham Train Station reopened to the patrons of the GO Transit system. The restored waiting room shelters the commuters in advance of each of the three morning trains that head to Union Station in Toronto every week day. GO Transit staff manage a ticket selling operation in the original station master's office. The security, communication and operations requirements of this facility have been implemented with great care to respect the historical elements of the room. Cabinets conceal the phones and computers, the cables and electrical panels are contained in a utility room.
- In the Emery waiting room, all of the original wainscoting, floors and windows have been restored and refurbished. The floor has been sanded and oiled, while the wooden elements and the drywall have been painted in a palette of buttery cream and gray greens. An elegant reproduction ceiling fixture gives soft illumination to the room. A lockable cabinet built into the wall contains a sink and electrical plugs to facilitate community meetings. The original safe stands in a corner, soon to be joined by one of two original wood stoves that were used to heat the building. One of the station's original wooden benches has been donated by a member of the community.
- The Community Room, which includes the original baggage room and the addition of 1909, is a large open room trimmed in wainscoting with a cathedral ceiling. The baggage door openings have been transformed to windows, retaining the refurbished baggage doors as interior shutters on the original hardware sliders. The space includes a food preparation area which improves the room's marketability as a meeting space. This area is painted in a palette of caramel, creamy white and gray greens. The floor is sheet linoleum.
- Opposing the main entrance is a display area that houses the dedication plaques that document the project and its supporters. Historical photographs of the station and artifacts relating to the station will be housed here for the benefit of the community.
- Two public, fully accessible washrooms are located in the hallway between the two rooms. This hallway is lit by one original window and two sympathetic reproductions.
- Storage and utility room, including water.
- A crawlspace beneath the building contains the two furnaces, each of which services one end of the structure, allowing for separate controls by renters with different needs.
- Outside, the access to the building is gained through four doors, one on each side. The east or main door is fully accessible. All doors are operated with panic bars from inside and are all lockable from outside.
- As all but one of the original signs are missing from the site, reproductions based on photographic evidence have been erected where appropriate.
Economic benefit to the community
The train station is now an asset to the community instead of surplus liability to CNR. The partnerships created by the project injected funds into the community that would not otherwise have been available. The Conservancy found support and created bonds with the federal Millennium Bureau, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, GO Transit, the Town of Markham, Emery Investments, Shell Canada, and the Ontario Government through the Ontario Heritage Foundation's Challenge Fund.
Had we not pursued this effort, the station would have been demolished. According to GO Transit, the commuter facility would most likely have been shut down and the land sold as new stations open elsewhere. As a result of the project, the people of Markham own a lovely and valuable building in the heart of the Village of Markham.
- The increase in rider loyalty and the adoption of GO Transit by new riders because of the provision of a safe, clean, commodious and esthetically pleasing station is an expected economic benefit of the project. The cost of new roads to service the growing commuter population is born directly by the municipality and the region.
Social benefit to the community
- The Emery Waiting Room and the Community Room are two new community facilities available for private and public functions in an easily accessed location with high visibility and required amenities.
- The Town of Markham now includes the Community Room in the planning of Culture and Recreation programs as the Markham Village area was under serviced without the station facility.
- The improvement to the streetscape of Markham village is dramatic. The station is located at the northern limit of the Business Improvement Area, is within the Heritage Conservation District and is an important element in the Main Street Vision project now underway. The exterior is painted in the original colour scheme of 1910 – pale yellow over green with sienna red trim – a delight to the eye from busy Main Street.
- The increase in rider loyalty and the adoption of GO Transit by new riders because of the provision of a safe, clean, commodious and esthetically pleasing station is an expected social benefit of the project. Individuals and families make decisions about where to live based on the availability of important services like public transit. Strong communities are well planned communities.
Environmental benefit to the community
- In the course of Phase I, the discovery of contamination under the structure presented at first an obstacle. The added costs to remove the contamination were accepted as a necessary part of the project. The community benefits through the removal of toxic fuel oil and creosote from the soil.
- The increase in rider loyalty and the adoption of GO Transit by new riders because of the provision of a safe, clean, commodious and esthetically pleasing station is an expected environmental benefit of the project. Reduced dependence on automobiles means reduced emissions, reduced toxic waste water from road ways, reduced per capital energy consumption.
Learned about people
- We learned that presented with a challenge that people will rise to it and perform in extraordinary ways. This project became much larger that anyone predicted, and yet no members withdrew from the extra work that entailed.
- We learned that our group was unusual in its cohesive nature. We were successful because we placed a high value on building partnerships.
Learned about community
- We learned that communities with engaged citizens are communities that work. Markham is recognized by others as a successful example of a modern community. The Prince of Wales award for heritage conservation was granted during the course of this project and confirmed this.
- We learned that the community at large depended on us to get this job done.
- The project was a cross disciplinary event – drawing interest from those concerned about cultural history, heritage conservation, Main Street revitalization, public transit issues, protection of the natural environment, provision of accessible community facilities. When we started, this was a Save the Station single focus group. We evolved with the project.
- We started out as an advocacy group for a single cause. We soon implemented a consensus building approach that worked effectively to build partnerships.
- We created a collaborative group of partners – the Town of Markham, GO Transit, the Region of York, the CMPP, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, The Ontario Heritage Challenge Fund, Emery Investments and the Markham Village Conservancy.