This article is a follow-up to Ontario Line Maintenance & Storage Facility and provides detail on the MSF location selection process.
When I first wrote about this project and its effects, Metrolinx advised that they would not be releasing information about the site selection until late 2022, roughly the same point where a contract for construction would be awarded and long after any design changes would be possible.
This position changed quite recently, and the presentation deck for a public meeting on April 15 includes maps of the proposed sites. The original version included the legend “Elected Officials Only” is part of these illustrations and shows how this deck was closely held until quite recently. A revised version posted during the meeting has some differences in the deck.
Although sites downtown and west to the Exhibition were considered, none of them was large enough to accommodate the MSF and yard.
A common thread through this process is that all of the facilities will be at one location as opposed to building storage at various points along the route. That approach would take advantage of train automation to allow remote dispatching of trains to and from service, but it has not been included in the design.
Most of the sites are clustered around the Ontario Line corridor with a few exceptions well away from the line. These are described in the maps below.
The slides describing the removal of various sites from consideration were in the originally posted version of the deck, but they do not appear in the version now online and shown at the meeting.
Four sites in various parts of Flemingdon Park were rejected either because they are too small, they are too far from the main line, or because major development is already planned on the site.
In the original Relief Line Subway plan, trains would have been stored and serviced at Greenwood Yard. This yard is too small for the projected Ontario Line fleet, an intriguing claim considering the relative demand and capacity on Line 2 (now served mainly from Greenwood) and the future Ontario Line.
This leaves three sites on either side of the CP rail corridor through Leaside. Each of these sites has its challenges.
Metrolinx settled on using parts of site 1 (the southern part of the Wicksteed block), and site 2 (the northern part of the Overlea block).
In the previous article comments thread, a reader suggested placing the storage yard in Site 3 (the northeastern portion of the Leaside block). This requires an underpass at the CPR. It is not clear whether Metrolinx considered a hybrid Site 1-3 scheme that would not require the entire Leaside block, only enough room for the storage yard now planned for the northern portion of Site 2.
In the public meeting, Metrolinx stressed that they would be talking to affected businesses about support for relocation. The surprise expressed at this plan by members of the community suggests that consultation is comparatively recent although planning has been underway for some time.
The affected properties are shown in the map below.
The Islamic Society of Toronto plans to the move the Masjid Darussalam mosque from 4 Thorncliffe Park Drive to 20 Overlea Boulevard according to Metrolinx.
Metrolinx said that they are “keenly aware” of impacts to businesses and importance of Iqbal Foods (located in 2 Thorncliffe Park Drive) in the community. They are dedicated to work with all of the business owners to relocate “within the neighbourhood”. How much financial help will be involved remains to be seen. CEO Phil Verster said that it is “100% our intent” that these businesses are not lost to the local community.
Metrolinx received many complaints about timing of their announcement and holding the meeting during Ramadan in an area with a large Muslim population. They plan to hold more consultations after the holy month concludes in mid-May.
The overall project timeline for the North Section of the Ontario Line is summarized in the chart below.