An Alternative Ontario Line for Riverside?

This post is a departure from my usual reportage and takes us into the realm of “what would you do” advocacy.

The ongoing debate about Metrolinx’ proposed above ground route for the Ontario Line between East Harbour and Gerrard Stations turns on two issues:

  • The effect of a six-track wide shared GO+OL corridor on the neighbourhoods through which it will pass.
  • Whether the Ontario Line could be tunnelled.

The debate was recently clouded by a proposed shift in the OL’s alignment. Originally, the line would straddle the GO corridor in order to provide “across the platform” transfers with the outer two GO tracks at East Harbour. Metrolinx is now contemplating shifting both OL tracks to the north/west side of the corridor. This has several advantages as I discussed in a recent article, but it leaves the OL above ground.

The original configuration is shown below in a map from Metrolinx’ site. Note that North is at the right.

Putting the line underground on this alignment is very difficult because of constraints on the grade change between East Harbour and the (misnamed) Leslieville Station. Any descent is constrained by the cross-streets let alone the vertical difference between an East Harbour Station on the rail embankment and a Leslieville Station at Queen.

A neighbourhood group (The Lakeshore East Community Advisory Committee, aka LSE CAC) posed the question to me: is there a way to put the line underground? On the Metrolinx alignment, the simple answer is “no”, but that brings us to the question: why that alignment?

The original Relief Line would have crossed under the Don River on the line of Eastern Avenue with a station at Broadview as shown in the diagram below. The link with GO at East Harbour would not be as simple or direct as in the Metrolinx proposals where the OL and GO tracks and platforms are adjacent.

Metrolinx seeks to offload GO traffic from Union Station and sees transfers to the OL at East Harbour and Exhibition as a solution. However, changes to the planned layout at both stations have stripped the simple across-the-platform transfer for peak directions from their designs.

At Exhibition, only the westbound service would connect with the south side of the terminal station platform. Inbound (eastbound) GO riders would have to access the OL via an underpass. At East Harbour, if the alignment shifts to the north side of the station, the westbound GO track would be adjacent to the eastbound OL track, and there would be no direct link to the eastbound GO platform.

Metrolinx now describes the connections as more convenient rather than direct, but the attraction of a simple transfer to shift traffic has disappeared.

An alternative scheme, which I developed before Metrolinx plan to shift the OL to the west/north side of the rail corridor, uses the proposed eastbound tunnel under the rail corridor as its starting point. Instead of carrying just the eastbound track, it would house both directions, and they would cross the Don River on a dual track bridge south of GO’s trackage where a single eastbound bridge was proposed by Metrolinx.

A shared platform at East Harbour would be oriented to be as far west as possible and only one OL train length (not the full size of a GO platform). The east end of the platform (and hence the point where a descent underground could begin) is dictated by the proposed Broadview extension which would pass under East Harbour Station.

From that point, the line would turn east and descend through what is now largely vacant land and a laneway behind a heritage buildings on Eastern Avenue.

East of Booth Avenue, the line would swing north and join the original Relief Line alignment east of Logan.

The illustration below was prepared by the LSE CAC based on my proposal.

Courtesy of “Save Jimmy Simpson” / Paul Young

Here is the west end of this area. For reference, the Broadview Extension will cross just west (left) of the water tower (which is to be retained as a landmark in the new development here).

Source: Google Earth

Here is the east end of the area. Note that the vacant lot on the south-east corner at Booth and Eastern in this photo is now occupied by a self-storage building that would have to be removed.

Source: Google Earth

I have no illusions that this would be an easy alignment, but it has advantages over attempting to fit the Metrolinx route under ground:

  • The transition from above grade to underground would occur in largely vacant land and before the line must cross a major street (Eastern), preferably west of Booth so that this street would remain open.
  • The Leslieville Station is far enough from East Harbour that it does not constrain the vertical alignment in the same manner as the station would at Queen & Degrassi.

Potential issues include:

  • The City has plans for this land in the East Harbour development and they would have to be revised to accommodate the ramp and portal structure for the Ontario Line.
  • The OL structure would be close to the surface continuing its descent to Carlaw. This could affect utilities where the alignment crosses Booth, Eastern and Logan, as well as some properties along the curve between Eastern and Carlaw.

It is self-evident that an underground route from East Harbour to Gerrard will be more expensive than the Metrolinx proposal along the rail corridor.

Very bluntly, I could be more sympathetic to this issue if Metrolinx were not already pursuing underground options in Scarborough and on Eglinton West at great expense for blatantly political reasons.

This is a proposal for discussion.

21 thoughts on “An Alternative Ontario Line for Riverside?

  1. You should know that suggesting a more expensive underground route going through a non-Ford Nation neighbourhood would be unacceptable to Doug Ford. That is why the Eglinton West LRT is underground ONLY because it goes through Doug Ford’s neighbourhood.


  2. I’ve been mapping out a project (that I admit falls squarely in the realm of fantasy) that would follow a similar alignment. The Ontario Line is certainly a more practical candidate, but if this portal and tunnel could accommodate GO vehicles, it could (eventually) connect the Union corridor with the CP North Toronto/Belleville subs and provide a bypass to rail infrastructure in the Don Valley.

    With a few more developments further north (viaducts on either side of Thorncliffe Park and a connection across or under Don Mills), this would enable 2-way all-day electrified service to Richmond Hill and eventually a new line to Wexford-Maryvale, Malvern, and possibly Peterborough — i.e., the eastern leg of the fabled GO Midtown Line.

    Bypassing the twists and turns of the Don Valley would streamline the Richmond Hill-Union alignment and add more connections at, e.g., Lawrence, Don Mills, and/or Eglinton. It would also free up space for a ‘Cycling Superhighway’ in the valley. Active mobility infrastructure in the Don Valley always runs into expensive conflicts with the Metrolinx corridor. This bypass would have so many benefits, lower so many barriers, and the portal and tunnel described above are a critical part of it.

    Getting rail infrastructure out of the Valley is a pipe dream, for sure, but I think it’s one worth dreaming about.


  3. The justification for forcing OL so far south to East Harbour and then requiring a further time consuming meander back to Queen has always stunk to me of lobbyist capture. The comparison of East Harbour to Canary Wharf by John Tory at one point reminded me that Canary Wharf bankrupted the Reichmanns, but the city and province are collaborating on billions of dollars of public money and an inefficient route for those actually using OL as a local routing in order to promote this primarily private venture and ease the problems of a poorly capacity-planned regional rail hub. As far as I know, the public have never been given an opportunity to weigh in on whether the Unilever site is really worth gerrymandering downtown relief for, and meanwhile a project which could activate the site quickly – the Broadview South streetcar – shows little sign of activity.

    The OL already connects with GO at Gerrard. Let the “Union relief” transfers, if any, occur there. Deviate from GO shortly afterwards to curve past St John’s Bakery across the river to Shuter and River, along Shuter and then down to Queen via Moss Park/Armoury and along to City Hall. That’s a fast 4km route from Gerrard/Carlaw that wouldn’t keep Thorncliffe Park commuters needlessly trundling over and back to get where they are going (and might even be fast enough to tempt 905 GO riders out of their seats for a standing spot in an OL trainset).

    Steve: One of the proposed routes for the RL would have gone west in the Front/Wellington corridor, but that was scotched by the allure of a “City Hall” station on Queen. This would also have much better positioned the line for a westward extension to Liberty Village. The City began the gerrymander with the Relief Line choice for Queen, and the province continued it.


  4. If they went back to including Corktown station instead of using the GO train corridor then perhaps the current train parking lot could be expanded instead of parking trains up the Don Valley.

    Steve: “Went back to”? Corktown station is still part of the Ontario Line.


  5. Metrolinx screwed Scarborough by bullying their way with a four lane Eglinton Crosstown with no left turns. They later admitted, it should have been 6 lanes. The injustice I felt was that it was totally underground for Toronto, why surface for Scarborough and that they willfully ignored the concerns of the community (they had planned 3 public sessions, but after the first boisterous session they eliminated the town hall portion in the remaining two). There was no need to bury it 2 stories at Kennedy station (one level such as the Spadina would work) which resulted in the $4 billion estimate for the EELRT because of conflict with the SSE.

    They were so pleased that eliminating the town hall format effectively muted opposition that it was very notable that there were no town hall meetings for the rollout of the Ontario Line.

    Steve: Eglinton should have been widened as there was room to do so. The segment through Toronto is underground because there is no room on the surface for a two-track right-of-way plus stations. That segment is also in East York and York. It’s not all a plot by “downtown” to screw Scarborough.

    I want to address the big picture. Many, many years ago, the TTC identified that the Yonge subway would get crowded south of Bloor because of the increase of passengers transferring from the Bloor/Danforth. The Thorncliff/Flemingdon Parks (T/F P) neighbourhoods were considered the major contributor. The “Relief” line was defined as serving T/F P through Riverside and connecting to the Yonge subway. The whole route was an engineering challenge, Pape Village, Riverside, crossing the Don and connecting to Yonge. While very expensive, an underground route was decided.

    The Pape Village/Riverside citizens believed that Public Transit was a worthy cause and accepted the disruption the route and construction would cause. The project was a TTC/City effort and the project would be very expensive. The shifting from Pape to Logan was very costly. All this to address the initial project goal of a “relief” to the Yonge (south of Bloor) congestion.

    Steve: The route was shifted from Pape to Carlaw, not Logan. It added some cost, but not extravagantly, and actually put the station at Queen in a better location.

    In the big picture, circumstances had changed. Huge apartment complexes had sprung up along the Sheppard subway, along Yonge from Sheppard to Finch, at Eglinton and St. Clair. The Yonge subway is now packed from Sheppard to King. It is a survival test.

    Like the good citizens of Riverside, we all recognize the need to improve public transit. The sectors that the Ontario Line would serve deserve improved service. When dealing with the TTC and City honest negotiation took place with the community for resolution. For me, in the big picture, the Yonge subway is the elephant in the room. For the big picture, I follow Mr. Ed Levy who has stressed the need for a grid of rapid transit. Toronto must evolve from the inverted T of Line 1 and Line 2 and the Ontario line is not an obvious winner for me.

    The Ontario Line done not make coherent sense in the big picture. It is pathetic to have so much of Metrolinx scrambling with sketches to finalize a route at the last minute. There is no transit goal to their work. Yet they can bully their way and burn billions of tax payer dollars, upset and disrupt the lives on innocent citizens in a mindless frenzy.

    In the big picture, we must box in Metrolinx’s power, and have it work for the good of the community it impacts. Toronto needs a better coherent master plan for a grid of rapid transit. Time to be mindful.

    Steve: We must also remember that the Ontario Line was cooked up by Metrolinx to make themselves useful to Doug Ford at a time when the agency was seen as a Liberal cesspool.


  6. Your new proposal looks very reasonable:

    1. The Lesliville community will be happier with fewer above-ground trains.
    2. The Queen and Gerrard stations shouldn’t have to be very deep, as the OL does not go under the river, and there seem to be no other obstacles forcing it to go deep.
    3. A separate OL bridge over Don and the shorter stretch where the GO tracks and OL run side by side will, hopefully, leave more space for additional GO tracks in the future.


  7. I just can’t see a “business case” that would balance out the significant increase in costs for this proposal. Let’s say it’s an extra billion in costs (longer + tunnelled + utility relocation impacts). I have a hard time making an argument that we’d be spending that money well and the upside for residents would be the best use of that money. It doesn’t really seem like the various community groups are addressing that elephant in the room in terms of cost.

    Given the relatively short distances between Gerrard/Leslieville/East Harbour stations, the switch to “light metro” vehicles, and the plan to install noise mitigation for GO RER, I’m curious what the realistic expectation is for noise from the OL.

    Steve: The extra cost is an obvious question on any project. I put the option “out there” as an alternative. If we were paying attention to “business cases”, I can think of a few projects that would never get past preliminary review.

    As for noise, the issue in this area is not just the OL but also the GO corridor where there will be considerably more service, including diesel trains (the Bowmanville service), whether the OL is there or not. The OL is sauce on top of that problem and the effects on parkland (which extend east of Gerrard Station) thanks to GO’s heavy-handed approach to design and “consultation”.


  8. Steve said: It’s not all a plot by “downtown” to screw Scarborough.

    It is with great reluctance for me to rebut, but I never suggested this was a downtown/suburb turf war. The Crosstown was a Metrolinx project, not a city project. We opposed constricting Eglinton East to 4 lanes with no left turns. This was a Metrolinx design based on outdated traffic studies. Our battle was with Metrolinx was against 4 lanes causing so much disruption when it should be placed underground like everywhere else. Only after our objections, did Metrolinx undertake traffic studies to find that our concerns were valid which made Metrolinx consider solutions which gave rise to the 6 lane design, much later.
    There is no Scarborough representation in Metrolinx who could have told them right away that a 4 lane Eglinton with no left turn was a very bad idea. Within Metrolinx there is no representation from Riverside who would have quickly pointed out that bringing the Ontario Line to the surface in Riverside is a very bad idea.

    City politics did affect Scarborough when Councillor Holland couldn’t convince City Council to pass the amendment to the Master Agreement with Metrolinx to change the Crosstown to 6 lanes.

    Steve: You said “The injustice I felt was that it was totally underground for Toronto, why surface for Scarborough and that they willfully ignored the concerns of the community”. The underground section is not just in Toronto, but that argument has been made often as part of the general Scarborough/Downtown conflict. The commonality lies in the narrow width of the street regardless of the name of the municipality.

    As I said before, I agree that Eglinton should have been widened. We will now have to wait and see when construction is finished, the buses are replaced by LRT trains, and traffic has returned to “normal” how the street behaves.


  9. I think the whole problem is the Carlaw route. Bill R noted (although with a small error) that the decision to move from Pape to Carlaw was a huge cost driver that likely became another one of the reasons Metrolinx abandoned this RL alignment altogether.

    The question is vertical grade, and it has nothing to do with the Don River and everything to to with the Carlaw Sanitary Sewer. The Relief Line was about 22m below grade on the west side of the Don, and 22m below grade on the east side – and about 20m below stream bed under the Don. This was largely governed by the ~12 story condo foundation (108 Lawren Harris Square). Broadview Station box itself was ~22m below grade. Immediately East of here, the transit line had to dive down (at 2.8%) to get under the ~18m deep sanitary sewer under Carlaw. By Carlaw Station, it was 32m deep. (Regardless of the depth at Broadview/East Harbour Station, you have to make it down to this depth to use Carlaw). Then it had to continue under that sewer line for the entire Carlaw portion. By Gerrard Station, it reached 45m depth. Then it had to rise at a quite steep 3.36% just to be at a somewhat reasonable 32m depth at Pape/Danforth Station. This grade, and the vertical curves to tie it in at the Stations, seems far worse than desirable.

    What happens if we don’t go up Carlaw and instead use Pape (this was an earlier plan circa 2016). Now, instead of going under the Carlaw sewer, we can go over it. At maybe 12m depth, we can easily sail over this sewer and then make the curve to Pape. I like your location ~60m south of Eastern, and with this starting point, and using Ontario Line trains that are reportedly going to have better turning radius, the expropriation at the curve could be minimized. I don’t have drawings for Pape, but I imagine you could go 12 to 15m depth most of the way. This makes platform access much more desirable for riders at both Queen Station and a much shallower Gerrard Station.

    The next thing to ask is who will pay for the extra costs. Maybe a better thing to ask is how can Leslieville/Riverside find enough cost savings to make this work. How about going back to the old Sumach Station and then continuing the line under the Don River, but shifting the alignment a bit farther south (~80m) to help with the GO interchange. Then have your TBM launch side at the Broadview Station (or just east of it). To the East of here, the community should propose cut-and-cover the entire way to the Don Valley at Millwood. These savings are what is the impetus for Metrolinx to bury the line in it’s entirety.

    Each side needs to see some advantage, with hopefully minimal negatives:

    • Leslieville/Riverside gets a fully underground transit line for 100+ years. They get the Queen Station farther into Leslieville. They get shallower stations with easier access to the platform level. True, then have to put up with cut-and-cover construction (using precast tunnels, not the slow cast-in-place concrete that was used in the 50’s and 60’s), but it also means the station construction is sped up, so it’s a bit of a saw off). Cosburn gets a station at shallower depth and more convenience (I also expect as cost rise Cosburn will be threatened with elimination).
    • Metrolinx gets a shorter track with less curves. They avoid construction of portals (cost and flood concerns) and keep the entire line (at least this portion) underground and not susceptible to the weather. With the cut-and-cover construction, it will be cheaper and faster and allow multiple contractors to begin work – and not be tied to the entire TBM operation being completed before starting. It frees up the GO corridor for Train use only (GO, Via, HSR, etc.). With the shallower station at Gerrard, they get the improved transfer between GO and OL. (As I have stated before, as long as this transfer is easier than the one at Union – which is not difficult to achieve – riders will transfer here if headed to City Hall area). And finally, you eliminate this idea which has turned into a PR nightmare for Metrolinx.

    Steve: I am waiting for cost pressures on the line to have an effect on the project scope, and the loss of stations is an obvious step. On the Yonge North extension, we have already seen the emergence of the term “neighbourhood” stations that are not worth their cost. If stations begin to disappear, this reduces the neighbourhoods that might benefit either through network access or redevelopment (if one considers that a “benefit”).

    One other point: there is no Gerrard station on GO. It fell off of the map some time ago.

    The biggest problem with any route review is not just that it will be portrayed as delaying the project. Only true community participation, with full public understanding of design constraints and tradeoffs, and elimination of Metrolinx’ arrogant, manipulative behaviour will break the logjam.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This seems an eminently sensible route suggestion.

    Somehow I am guessing Metrolinx has run up against some issues with the GO train corridor that has caused the rethink of the track geometry. The ROW is fairly tight, and having to fit Heavy Rail, Light Rail (or whatever the OL final form is) safety and sound mitigation might be too much of a squeeze. Is the overhead supply proposed for the OL the same as the GO RER specification? If they are different, this could become wiring nightmare.

    Steve: Yes. GO will use the 25kV AC railway standard while the OL will be 1,500V DC with overhead probably at a height suitable for the smaller profile of its trains. Metrolinx has yet to produce a design showing what this would look like or what safety standards it might require.

    With Metrolinx shifting the OL to one side of the GO lines, they have increased the complexity of line transfers. However without fare integration, or a co-fare for the GO/OL transfer this might not be a big issue. Being able to use the PATH from Union to Dundas St as a walkway will often be the preferred connection vs. another fare.

    Underground may be more expensive, but retaining the ability to 6 track this section of rail corridor could prove essential to future expansion of operations of Lakeshore East or Stouffville Go routes. And except for the Don crossing, having a separate ROW might simplify safety issues. Another advantage of this route is better station spacing between stops, allowing better catchment areas for walk-ins. The current OL plan has East Bayfront and Leslieville very close together.

    The location of the Gerrard/Pape stations for GO/OL transfers is key. This will be the point at which GO riders who want to reach Line 5 will transfer – time should be spent working on passenger circulation for this key interchange.

    East Harbour should be considered a major destination, and only a minor transfer hub. Until development occurs here, I would only rough in a stop that could be built later. In fact completion of the station should be left to the developers of the site – let them pay for the connection, if they want it. Immediate ridership needs could be met via the East Bayfront LRT, and/or the Broadview streetcar.

    Steve: It is ironic that in all of the SmartTrack debacle, the City of Toronto winds up paying for East Harbour even though it is clearly a regional station. Metrolinx sees this as a key station, but expects the City to pay for it.


  11. The current “Corktown” station is west of Parliament, closer to Berkeley. I didn’t even think that qualified as Corktown!

    The DRL proposal was to put it at King and Sumach in Corktown – much further east.

    Steve: Metrolinx is a tad challenged geographically. They have finally discovered that Riverside exists, and that Leslieville Station might be misnamed. This is the same outfit that adopted a station naming convention that does not allow intersection names, and whose board spent an entire meeting debating “Hakimi/Lebovic” which violates that “standard”.


  12. Thanks Steve, again, and commenters.

    Yes, we need more transit/relief. Yes, it’s going to Cost a Lot, and if only that 1957 plan were all built out. But now, we sorta need triage, including for climate emergency, not just having Eglinton opening soon, and what can be done relatively quickly, with a focus on Relief function, and not Relief project, or projects.

    Current proposal has a bit of Relief Danforth, and some of Relief North, an effort to relieve Union Station, and in sum ways, also Relief of taxpayer, but not as badly as the two Suspect Subway Extensions and the burying of the Eglinton LRT, for billions. I suspect that the Cons/Metrolunx want to jam some OL Relief to project an aura of caring about transit/network whilst enabling sticking hands out for billions to federal level, though they could start by squeezing the billions in the other three projects, but the Cons/carservatives on Clowncil are also at fault, and both Ms. Bailao and Mr. Bradford are needing a boot, perhaps enough to oust them.

    So we should – and must – presume there are billion$ around for whatever is needed, though too bad no finder’s fees, including for Steve. Yes, there will be a need for tunnelling, bridging, property-taking, and much materials usage and some employment for men, not just machines.

    I’ve been wrestling with the ‘what to do to move faster/better and save billion$’ for years now.

    My thinking is to adjust to what is needing to be relieved, and what options are, especially with the cheaper/faster Keeping It Simply Surface options, political will required, but also think of how to both integrate networks, and provide a faster sub-regional transit trip vs. milk runs. And no, don’t necessarily use public money for private benefit – and am glad that others have used the gerrymandering terms, though perhaps the wrong provincial choice of location for the new Court House near Queen was part of the ‘why’ of a jog back up to Queen St., but yes, King or something else is smarter, likely.

    With the North/South Yonge Relief, let’s presume that this is the priority project, truly. And NO to any further extension, until there’s something else, that’s built, and yes, to a development freeze south of the Eglinton Station maybe until there’s something built. Not talked about, nor planned, but actually built.

    So if we really focus on that, and just like the WWLRT EA suggesting two projects were and are needed for the west-end transit (none built, but at least GO lengthened their trains), we could cut out Riverside/Riverdale, and should. Yes, Steve’s and many other plans/ideas for the E/W through the core have merit, and we likely need a further transit project that does more or less what’s suggested, but goes further east, and much much further west, without the tilt or gerrymander to Ontario Place, perhaps to be another shopping mall? because that’s been how we’ve done transit expansion, sigh, not good value for public $$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

    While I’m somewhat agnostic on tech/mode, subway is likely best for capacities, including longer term for this N/S. Key is having a more direct/surface link from Thorncliffe area to the near-core via Don Valley, with three options of DVP; spur line including Half-Mile bridge, and Bayview, and yes, why not think of separating the two directions in some places? Avoid any direct connection for the time being with Bloor/Danforth, but do plan for it, eventually.

    I’m now favouring an entry point in to the core at Gerrard for a few reasons. Flooding may well be an issue, absolutely. The corridor gets really tight as one goes south. We really need a new way in to the core that’s away from B/D and away from Union. There’s also a LOT of density and destination near Gerrard like Ryerson, Hospitals; Queen’s Park; AGO; lower end of UofT; and also OCA. If we only built a single track in a larger tube/tunnel to at least University Ave, we could do a small loop over to University Ave., then down to Queen, then back along Queen to Church, and then up Church to rejoin Gerrard then back up. City Wall and the new Court House/just-us shytstem are also accessible. We could also really really DIG out University Ave for a batch of train storage, though this should likely be south of Hospital zones.

    On the north side, perhaps do a loop of directions up to Thorncliffe as well. Southbound uses the Half-Mile bridge; northbound takes a lane or so of the DVP, with a new bridge/access up to Thorncliffe Park, and there’s a bit of loop done their first, but with key provision to connect up to Eglinton, and beyond. And that’s the one point of Good in the OL proposal – reaching up to Eglinton, to hopefully head ’em off and transfer ahead of Yonge. As this isn’t seemingly thought about with Line 5 opening, this makes the urgency of providing a network faster more dire.

    But getting up to Oriole GO is also needed, for RIchmond Hill to core trips, and is in older plans as well. Perhaps digging out that Rail Trail to full extent/width and have an express train from OSC/Eglinton up to Oriole is the ticket; maybe it should be under/on Don Mills Road, with a stop somewheres. Metrolinx/GO has had a 25 year window to do these studies; like the decay of the Half-Mile Bridge, how do they justify their salaries sometimes eh? Foolowing Forders isn’t good enough; and maybe it’s Fordures sometimes eh?

    If there’s not quite enough perceived demand to justify the billions, there’s a further option to boost demand/usage – a certain long, direct, all-through-Scarborough linear linkage that is under-used and could become a busway with not a huge expenditure, and could thus solve a lot of Scarborough’s transit woes as well has help provide some realief for the Danforth. The diagonality of the hydro corridor is also an inherent short-cut; it’s off-road to speed up transit without peeving off the votorists; is waaaaay cheaper than digging; and reflects the diagonal squeeze of Scarborough’s shoreline and thus grid. While we may need a new bridge or some othe construct to really feed in to a Thorncliffe subway, or detour the subway across the Don to link with it – perhaps better – there’s a set of demands, including 401 Relief perhaps.

    Too bad there’s not a capacity for images on this site – I do have some crayons/markers around, and am sorry am not as good a draftsman as, say, grandfather.

    And once we have this N/S underway/figgered out, and Scarborough in better shape, let’s work on really planning the Relief E/W in to Beaches even, and then north, unsure what’s better, but some have suggested Coxwell deserves a Subway, and that’s Danforth and road relief.

    Thanks for letting this be opened up.


  13. There is nothing wrong with having six tracks besides each other. I have been to many countries in the world with much better transit than Canada and many have even more than 20 tracks besides each other without any problems. There is no point in tunneling when there is no need. The locals objecting and protesting is only going to delay the project and it is not going to result in tunneling where there is no need. Tunneling should only be done where it is impossible to run transit on surface, in a ditch, or elevated. These are exciting times for transit. Construction for the Scarborough subway begins in a few days and tunneling for Eglinton Crosstown West is very close as well.

    Steve: Scarborough could have a surface LRT network, and Eglinton does not have to be underground. “Tunneling should only be done where it is impossible to run transit on the surface”, in your words, does not apply to either of them. A total double standard.

    As for 6 or 20 track corridors elsewhere, that does not justify bulling your way through an existing neighbourhood. When I see six tracks on Eglinton West, I will know you have changed your mind. Meanwhile, you position is utterly ridiculous.


  14. A big thank you to Steve for putting out an option that is reasonable, realistic and highly worthy of consideration. I do have comment.

    “If stations begin to disappear, this reduces the neighbourhoods that might benefit either through network access or redevelopment (if one considers that a “benefit”).”

    I consider that to be not only a benefit, but inevitable if a future Toronto is going to be liveable for its people. Unless the federal government changes Canada’s immigration and refugee policies, there will be 2.6 million more people living in the Greater Toronto Area in the year 2046.

    With some minor exceptions, there is approximately zero capability of building more roads for cars. Certain facts of mathematics, specifically geometry, dictate that two things must happen to prevent Toronto from becoming an unlivable hell-hole where getting around every day is a nightmare of stressful wasted hours.

    1. The vast majority of people will be travelling by public transit and bicycle.
    2. The vast majority of people will be living in high-density housing.

    This reality of geometry dictates that a lot of street space will be repurposed from private automobile use and dedicated to TTC and bicycle use. Geometry also dictates that there is no reasonable alternative to many neighbourhoods being redeveloped for high-density housing.

    If anyone does not like that vision of the future, then I suggest that they contact their federal government MP to advocate for changing Canada’s immigration and refugee policies. Because the reality of 2.6 million more people in the GTA by 2046 means that there is no other practical way for us to live or to get around.

    Steve: I do agree that there will be development. However, the whole “millions more people” trope is used to justify, or at least appear to justify, redevelopment across the entire city at whatever density the development industry wants to build.

    On the transit side, we get what Metrolinx wants to build which is long-haul regional services that do little to serve neighbourhoods, but that reinforce sprawl.

    Worst case, prime sites are cherry picked, with MZOs if need be, and we’re not supposed to complain because of those millions.

    It would be *really* useful if someone did a basic calculation: we need “x” more housing units to provide for “y” more population, and this will require “z” percent of the city to be redeveloped (allowing for the net loss, if any, of existing housing).

    Note that I did not say anything about affordability which is going completely off the charts thanks to real estate being treated as a speculative investment. I am not convinced that we can build/upzone enough transit corridors to ever catch up with that, and there are huge areas of the 416 and inner 905 that will always be well beyond a “mass transit station area” even at their bloated size.


  15. Anyone, who has gotten this far in this thread can see why a time-out is needed before undertaking the Ontario Line. It requires a lot of complex engineering considerations which risk to overpower a modest local community. Toronto must take into account, how important transit problems, such as overcrowding on the Yonge subway, are not receiving adequate attention.

    There is the broader question of strategic solutions to the creeping gridlock which harms the City’s growth. India, especially Mumbai, have adopted elevated monorail trains and expertise in installing them at modest cost. These are not as ugly as those used in the past century (Chicago, New York, Paris). Toronto isn’t big on one way streets, but with design, they are a way to help build BRT’s.

    All of Toronto would benefit from an answer to the Yonge Subway crisis. The original “relief line” is no longer an adequate solution and so there is less priority on the Ontario Line.


  16. Steve: When I see six tracks on Eglinton West, I will know you have changed your mind.

    There is no room for 6 tracks on Eglinton West nor is there the need. My understanding is that you also object to elevated structures in the Greater Downtown Area but you have no objection to elevated structures in Scarborough. A double standard indeed. I don’t mind a surface LRT network in Scarborough or in Etobicoke but I am opposed to constant change in plans and changing them back and forth as that way nothing gets built. Let us just build everything as per current plans so that everything is built ASAP. The current plan is not perfect but it is much better than building nothing which is exactly what you will get with your plan to constantly change plans.

    Steve: The six tracks on Eglinton were intended in jest, and you very well know that. You also know perfectly well that I do not advocate elevated structures in Scarborough, but that probably does not fit with your BS-filled view of the world.

    As for my “plan to constantly change plans”, that too is BS. Look to Queen’s Park and Metrolinx if you want to see constantly changing plans. I was asked if there was a way to adapt the Ontario Line alignment, and that’s the question I answered. I was also clear that my option is not perfect, only one for discussion. If I really wanted to change the plans, I would have advocated a wholesale rethink of the route especially through downtown, but we are far beyond that point.

    You can set up straw man arguments like “Steve supports X” which you know to be totally false, but they allow you to spout your drivel. Now get lost.


  17. As far as I know, the public have never been given an opportunity to weigh in on whether the Unilever site is really worth gerrymandering downtown relief for, and meanwhile a project which could activate the site quickly – the Broadview South streetcar – shows little sign of activity.

    Not the Unilever site in particular, but the more southerly King Street corridor as a whole had always graded out better than the Queen Street corridor in all respects minus some added upfront construction cost. I’ve seen some origin-destination data and activity in the downtown and downtown shoulder areas was heavily biased to the King Street corridor. This should not come as a shock to even the most casual observer.

    We can’t forget that the city did originally omit the Unilever jog when they went full cheap-skate and gave their blessing to an all Queen alignment.

    We received their flimsy reasons after their process: A city hall station was a must-have for the occasional event, King Street was already getting a pseudo-transit mall, we could re-use a minor piece of infrastructure at Queen station (Lower Queen), it would expand the PATH system downtown, etc. Did I mention it was cheap?

    None of those reasons really hold up to any intense scrutiny but that’s the age old decision-based evidence-making game which seems to be everybody’s favourite one.

    It was a consistent point that workers could walk half a kilometre from a station under Queen because people already do that via PATH, which is fine where PATH exists, maybe not so fine in other places. Within this context it’s definitely fair game to ask why and how the Unilever site earned special treatment over the default “Let them walk!” attitude.

    We had been told every option other than Queen was far too costly yet in very short order the city was unilaterally walking it back after they had already closed off a lot of the avenues for discussion. It makes the whole process look like a sham.


  18. “On the transit side, we get what Metrolinx wants to build which is long-haul regional services that do little to serve neighbourhoods, but that reinforce sprawl.”

    Very true. I am particularly concerned about long-haul services that penetrate the Greenbelt, allowing sprawl to jump over the Greenbelt. Although I am generally pro-transit, I am not in favour of that!

    “…the whole ‘millions more people’ trope is used to justify, or at least appear to justify, redevelopment…”

    Huh? Should I interpret this as you stating that you believe the government’s predictions about population growth in the GTA are seriously overstated?

    Steve: No. Not at all. However, I encounter the “any opposition to density is bad because millions are coming” argument as a catch-all response whether it be to infill, midrise or to overbuilding in key locations like Yonge-Eglinton. The whole MTSA scheme imposed by the province does not even allow for situations where a zone exceeds its target density, or hint that we might cap development to spread it out better.

    It was even used to “justify” the MZO on the Foundry site even though preserving the heritage buildings has been shown to be possible together with more density.

    The problem with catch phrases like that being mis- or over-applied is that for bona fide cases the trope loses its relevance.


  19. “The problem with catch phrases like that being mis- or over-applied is that for bona fide cases the trope loses its relevance.”

    Very true. This reminds me of the Latin proverb: abusus non tollit usum. Translated as: the abuse does not disqualify the proper use. It is not necessary to destroy authentic heritage structures.

    Not necessary because Toronto has a lot of crappy 20th century housing with zero heritage value. To quote from the Lord High Executioner in “The Mikado,”

    “They never will be missed,
    They never will be missed.”

    Steve: An apt phrase, although in our current times, I prefer Shakespeare’s “scurvy politician” as a prime candidate for my little list.

    On a more serious note, remember that a vast majority of Toronto’s housing, including single-family dwellings which seem to be anathema in some circles, are “20th century”.


  20. If Steve’s suggestion, or something like it, is adopted, it should make one more planning decision much, much easier: rename one of the two stations “Munro.”

    P.S. I rather like Shakespeare’s “a clod of wayward marl.” It applies to and can be used in so many situations.

    Steve: Ah, but Munro Street is west of Broadview, and this could confuse riders. Mind you, if Metrolinx can put “Leslieville” station completely outside of the area for which it is named, I suppose n honourary station is possible just about anywhere.


  21. Kevin Love said:

    Very true. I am particularly concerned about long-haul services that penetrate the Greenbelt, allowing sprawl to jump over the Greenbelt. Although I am generally pro-transit, I am not in favour of that!

    GO’s services pre-date the greenbelt, and most lines extend through and beyond it, so this raises a number of questions.

    We recognize that the purpose of personal transport in cities, whether public or private, is to enable a city to sprawl, and to cope with the enabled sprawl. So any limit on public transport for reasons of sprawl must explain why the limit isn’t arbitrary.

    In this case, the argument is that with a greenbelt, service to communities beyond it should not be serviced, such as Hamilton, Newmarket, Pickering, Guelph, etc. But why should we doom such communities to be completely auto-dependent?

    And why choose the greenbelt in particular as the limit? If we removed service from the outer edges inside the greenbelt, wouldn’t that be even better, by serving to encourage even more core infill?

    Of course, greenbelts themselves are pretty suspect when it comes to sprawl – because they fail. The most surprising thing about the “Ontario Greenbelt” was that Ontario ignored the lesson from the greenbelt it already had – which had quickly failed decades earlier.


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