The Challenge of Waterfront Geography

George Smitherman’s campaign has just released its platform for city services, including parks.  Buried in this document is the following:

George supports constructing the Waterfront LRT by 2015 which will enable Torontonians to get to Cherry/Clark beaches and enjoy themselves.

I hate to tell the campaign folks, but the Waterfront LRT ain’t going near Cherry Beach for a very, very long time.  The Cherry Street extension will run initially from King south to the rail corridor, and the Waterfront east line will go from Union to Parliament.  Both of these will be joined up as part of the Lower Don Lands revitalization that restructures many roads and improves connections under the railway.

Much, much later, the Port Lands service will come in, but it won’t likely make it to Cherry Beach for a few decades, if ever.

Meanwhile, the Waterfront West line is in Transit City limbo with no funding, and an implementation date off in the late 2020s.  The route will not, if the TTC has its way, serve the western beach, but will muscle its way through the Queen and Roncesvalles intersection, and proceed out via The Queensway.  The route along Lake Shore to Colbourne Lodge Road is so much better, but that’s a “Miller” plan and therefore not likely to be found in Smitherman’s platform.

10 thoughts on “The Challenge of Waterfront Geography

  1. To get from Kingston Road (the east end of it) to where it meets Queen Street/Eastern Avenue, you need 4-5 routes. Imagine a true waterfront route, Kingston Road-lakeshore/Queen’s Quay-Queensway-Lakeshore what do you think?

    Steve: There was a proposal for something like this when Brian Ashton was on the TTC, but all that survives is the BRT proposal to Main or Vic Park Station, and the outer part of the Scarborough-Malvern line. I am not sure people would want this sort of route because they can get downtown (if that’s where they are going) faster by taking GO or the subway.

    Maybe I am crazy (I am sure many people thinks so) but Queen’s Quay ends where Parliament begins as it curves north. There is a big gap, I wonder how long it would take for the city to redirect so it connects to Cherry Street, aren’t they going to move Cherry Street anyways?

    The Gardenier/Lakeshore and Lake Ontario are sort of hazards for that redirection of QQ.

    Steve: This is part of the Lower Don Lands plan which you can read about in the recent Toronto Executive Committee reports. All of the roads in that area are to be shuffled around quite a bit, and the river itself will be relocated. A wonderful plan, but it needs funding.

    By the way, the West Waterfront is essentially the 508 but diverted to the EX, also duplicate for the 501 west of Roncesvalles.

    Why not just extend the 509 to the Roncesvalles/King area?

    Steve: The question is how to get there, and how much of the route would be express, or local through Parkdale via King.

    The 501/8 are ttc gauge, Transit City are going to be standard gauge … so how are you going to have one route using TTC gauge to Neville Park Loop and the other to the EX loop as standard gauge?

    Steve: The WWLRT will be TTC gauge if it is ever built, and will run with “legacy” system cars.


  2. “The route along Lake Shore to Colbourne Lodge Road is so much better”

    While that route might be better during nice summer weekends when the western beaches are busy, but the other 350 days per year the Waterfront West line needs to get people through the area quickly. The plan to cross over to the embankment next to the railway before the Queen and Roncesvalles intersection is the fastest, straightest and most direct route.

    Using Colbourne Lodge Road requires two 90 degree turns through intersections with infrequently changing lights and creates even more redundant parallel track where it is not needed.

    Steve: The TTC’s proposed crossover is right at the Queen and Roncesvalles intersection, and it will make a complex set of traffic signals even worse than they are today. Yes, the existing traffic lights at Colbourne Lodge are slow, but we have this marvellous invention called “transit priority” which even work here. The “redundant parallel track would run a distance of about 1 km, but would avoid having the WWLRT cars fouling up the Q&R intersection. I am always amazed how the TTC can kvetch about the problems of intersection configurations and traffic light timings, and then propose something worse than we have anywhere in the city. As things are today, streetcars queue up westbound because there isn’t enough green time.


  3. Yet another example of mayoral candidates or their hangers-on opening their mouths and putting their feet right into them. I am surprise he did not also propose an LRT to Ontario Place, maybe that’s next week’s treat.


  4. I’m once again reminded of the words of wisdom I learned at a very early age from the late, great writer/film critic/broadcaster/politician hater, Clyde Gilmour. Come every election, he would comment to me, “It’s a pity they can’t all lose.” Why would I be recalling that during this current mayoral contest?


  5. This Toronto mayors election is going to be the toughest one to decide in a long time, I look at the candidates and I don’t really like any of them. I may go to the poll and refuse the ballot, as I don’t like any of the mayors candidates and don’t really care about the secondary votes.


  6. Yes, everybody that I know wants “to get to Cherry/Clark beaches and enjoy themselves.” Awkward phrasing, to be sure.

    However, the first part is political shrewdness at its best: “George supports constructing the Waterfront LRT by 2015…” Remember, George never said anything about being committed to it.


  7. Something just occurred to me – How is the WWLRT supposed to coexist with the six tracks Metrolinx envisions for the Lakeshore West railway line through Parkdale? I get the feeling that neither of these proposals will come to pass…

    Steve: The route proposed by the city does not conflict with Metrolinx plans and runs more along Lake Shore west of the CNE than along the rail corridor.


  8. Well, if Smitherman does not want the WWLRT, then he will probably get a lot of votes from the residents in Long Branch, New Toronto, and Mimico who did not want a ROW along Lake Shore Blvd. W., especially as the TTC cannot (or will not) provide reliable service there now.

    Steve: It’s unclear exactly what Smitherman wants although his reference to waterfront beaches does only mention Cherry Beach (to which the “WELRT” won’t go soon, and will only come near in current plans). I hope that whoever the new Mayor is, they have the good sense to update their transit plans to match how the city actually works, and what lines are reasonable. If they spend the next four years rejecting anything that was a “Miller Plan”, we are in a lot of trouble.


  9. George meant, of course, “LST”, not “LRT”. Swans would have no problem at Cherry beach, unless the winter is cold enough to freeze the lake.

    Seriously, if we take the worst of the proposals from the various mayoral candidates and hangers-on, we get a system of subways that resembles Manhattan, but with no surface transit (which oddly Manhattan in its ignorance continues to operate).

    I’m not sure there are any “good parts” in the proposals from the candidates worth putting together.

    Miller’s time will be seen as a golden age, unless you’re a Rob Ford voter I guess.


  10. “Yes, the existing traffic lights at Colbourne Lodge are slow, but we have this marvellous invention called “transit priority” which even work here.”

    It’s not just waiting for the light. It’s the time streetcars takes to execute a 90 degree turn (or two in this case). I doubt the new streetcars will do it any faster.

    “would avoid having the WWLRT cars fouling up the Q&R intersection.”

    I take the streetcar through there frequently and the intersection is rarely a source of delayscexcept when they are switching drivers (and the replacement doesn’t show up) or the driver is chatting with the supervisor. Queen and Lansdown has at lot more traffic problems.

    The proposed route by Roncesvalles would only delay automobiles going eastbound, which is the direction with the least congestion. Streetcars will have to cross the eastbound lanes at Roncesvalles or Colbourne Lodge, so either choice will probably disrupt traffic similarly, except that at Colbourne Lodge streetcar have to make a relatively slow and sharp turn.


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