At its upcoming meeting, Etobicoke and York Community Council will consider an information report on the revitalization of Mimico. A great deal of the report concerns a public meeting held in June 2007 where, judging from the notes, there was much discussion and many ideas. Clearly people in Mimico want their neighbourhood to improve its look, its economy and its attractiveness without simply yielding to piecemeal, uncontrolled development.
Mimico is one of the old towns on the Lake Shore highway west of Toronto. The study area lies between Park Lawn Road (just west of Humber Loop) and Royal York Road. This area has a mix of residential uses with high-rise condos west from Park Lawn and an established low-rise neighbourhood of houses and small apartment buildings east from Royal York. There is a small commercial area around Mimico Road.
Although the report deals with a variety of issues affecting Mimico’s future, transit does pop up here are there with some interesting comments including:
- Don’t just concentrate on transit to get people downtown, but also to allow travel along the Lake Shore itself.
- Consider special fare structures to encourage local travel.
- Consider separate local and express services to downtown.
- Abandon the Park Lawn Loop proposal and concentrate on making Humber Loop more attractive and pedestrian friendly.
- Extend the right-of-way to Long Branch.
- Increase parking at GO and TTC subway stations.
Local service was once an important function of the 507 Long Branch car when it operated as a separate route. Since its integration with 501 Queen, service west of Humber Loop is unreliable with very wide gaps in service caused by short turns. Some cars that do get west of Humber short-turn at Kipling (18th Street) and miss serving the outer end of the route to Brown’s Line (40th Street). Service that does reach Long Branch does not run on a reliable schedule.
The proposal for a local “shopping fare” echoes the existing arrangement on St. Clair West where a time-based pass using transfer is in effect to encourage system use during the right-of-way construction project. Whether we get time-based fares on the TTC as part of a smart-card project (e.g. one “fare” provides up to two hours of riding regardless of direction or stopovers) remains to be seen, but this would extend the concept system wide.
A separate express route to downtown will arrive as and when the Waterfront West LRT is actually built. This project is now in the EA stage looking at the section between the CNE and Sunnyside where there is some debate about the appropriate alignment and the number of stations to serve south Parkdale.
Extending the right-of-way to Long Branch Loop won’t make much difference in transit operations given the current lack of serious congestion. No choke points showed up in my review of TTC’s vehicle monitoring data from December 2006 for this segment of the route.
The important thing will be to provide good, reliable service on Lake Shore, something that can be done by giving southern Etobicoke back its own route. The eastern terminus is a matter for discussion, but the service should definitely be independent of the 501 Queen car.
Park Lawn Loop is one of those TTC mysteries. It is a remnant of the original WWLRT proposal and has the distinct odour of a scheme to allow abandonment of the streetcar line west of Etobicoke Creek. However, the WWLRT is now part of Transit City and it goes all the way to Long Branch. Is Park Lawn an appropriate place to relocate the Humber Loop terminal?
Finally, I cannot help but worry about calls for more parking. What this shows is that people don’t have any faith in the surface transit system to get them where they want to go, and they are now focussed on rapid transit lines, particularly the Bloor subway, for east-west travel. Some of this will be demographic change, but some will be the long-term effect of decline in east-west streetcar service.
As Mimico and the communities west to Long Branch redevelop, good transit will be essential.