Doug Ford wants his pet transit projects built now and will sweep away any opposition. His agency, Metrolinx, is more than happy to oblige if only to make itself useful.
There was a time when the Tories hated Metrolinx as a den of Liberal iniquity, but Phil Verster and the gang made themselves useful to their new masters with new plans. Ford returned the favour with legislation giving Metrolinx sweeping powers in the Building Transit Faster Act. In particular, Metrolinx has review powers over any proposed activity near a “transit corridor” (anything from building a new condo to extending a patio deck) lest this work interfere with their plans. They also have right of entry, among other things, to perform their works.
Metrolinx describes the various aspects of review in Building near a Metrolinx transit corridor
Operative language in the Act is extremely broad about “transit corridors”:
Designating transit corridor land
62 (1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may, by order in council, designate land as transit corridor land if, in the opinion of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, it is or may be required for a priority transit project. 2020, c. 12, s. 62 (1).
Different designations for different purposes
(2) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may designate the land for some of the purposes of this Act and not others, and may later further designate the land for other purposes of this Act. 2020, c. 12, s. 62 (2)
Notice and registration
(3) Upon land being designated as transit corridor land, the Minister shall,
(a) make reasonable efforts to notify the owners and occupants of land that is at least partly either on transit corridor land or within 30 meters of transit corridor land of,
(i) the designation, and
(ii) this Act; and
(i) register a notice of designation under the Land Titles Act or Registry Act in respect of land described in clause (a), or
(ii) carry out the prescribed public notice process. 2020, c. 12, s. 62 (3); 2020, c. 35, Sched. 1, s. 4.Building Transit Faster Act, S. 62,
Note that there is no requirement that land actually be anywhere near a transit project, merely that it “may be required for a priority transit project”.
“Resistance is futile” should be the Act’s subtitle.
Metrolinx has a diagram in Doing construction work near a Priority Transit Corridor which shows the bounds of their interest.
In various community meetings, the assumption has been that the “corridor” corresponds to the bounds of Metrolinx’ property, but that is not the case. A much wider swath has been defined in several corridors reaching well beyond the wildest imaginations of what might be affected lands. Needless to say this has not endeared Metrolinx to affected parties for “transparency”.
This applies to the “priority” corridors: Scarborough Subway Extension, Richmond Hill Extension, Eglinton West Extension and, of course, the Ontario Line.
In addition, there are constraints around GO Transit corridors, as well as separate Developer’s Guides for LRT projects in Toronto and on Hurontario. Note that these predate the election of the Ford government, and rather quaintly refer to the Eglinton West and Sheppard East LRT corridors. Although it is mentioned in the text, the Eglinton West Airport Extension is not shown on the map.
There is an interactive map page on which one can explore the bounds of areas where Metrolinx asserts various rights of review, control and entry. It is tedious, and one must wait for all of the map layers to load to get a complete picture. But fear not, gentle reader, I have done the work of wandering through the GTHA on this map and taking screenshots to show each line. I have attempted to maintain a consistent scale for the snapshots of the maps. All of them are clickable and will open a larger version in a new browser tab.
Readers should note that the areas of influence/control for Metrolinx corridors discussed here are separate from the effects of MTSAs (Major Transit Station Areas) on development around rapid transit and GO stations, a totally separate topic.
I will start with the Ontario Line because it is the most contentious, but Metrolinx territorial ambitions do not stop there.
There is a common legend for these maps.
Areas in pink are GO Corridor lands where infrastructure plans must be co-ordinated with Metrolinx.
Areas in blue are transit corridor lands including a 30m buffer on both sides. Note that this is measured not from the Metrolinx property line, but from wherever the “corridor” has been defined by Cabinet Regulation.
Areas in green are locations that are outside of priority corridors, but still where Metrolinx review and approval must be sought to avoid conflict with their plans. (Note that there are two subtly different shades of green on the map, one of which is for parks.)
Areas in purple lie along GO corridors where there is a 300m boundary for review of any proposed work. In some locations, this area is quite large on the maps and this begs the question of whether Metrolinx is asserting control beyond what is actually allowed to do. In any event, the GO Transit Corridor Development Guidelines includes the now-infamous diagram showing that any new development should be 30m from a GO corridor.
It is self evident that existing buildings along rail corridors are closer than the standard shown below, but the question remains of how much land adjacent to rail lines is constrained for development as “new builds” within the standards.
An Observation About Details
After looking through all of these maps, I cannot help the feeling that the process of creating them was a piece of dog-work handed to relatively junior staff who were simply given a formula about how to draw the lines. Now Metrolinx faces the uproar caused by an overly generous definition of their corridor requirements. Don’t hold your breath waiting for a revision.
Hapless Metrolinx reps at “public consultations” are in for a rough go, and this issue is bound to detract from discussion of other key problems with their proposals.
Other details of note include:
- the complete absence of “Smart Track” stations,
- the absence of the Yonge Subway “priority” extension
- the presence of the Sheppard East LRT.
Exhibition Station, Parkdale and High Park
Note that the blue “transit corridor lands” around the Ontario line are considerably wider than the space occupied by the actual transit line by comparison to the actual width (pink) of the GO Transit rail corridors.
Also note that Liberty Village Station does not appear on this map (Bloor Station is just out of frame, but does appear.
The Ontario Line cuts a wide swath through downtown well beyond the space it will actually occupy.
As on other parts of the Ontario Line, the “transit corridor” is defined well in excess of the Metrolinx right-of-way raising the question of whether Metrolinx can be trusted in their claims about their scope of work and affected lands.
Through East York, the situation is similar to further south on the Ontario Line with a wide swath of property east and west of Pape Avenue defined as the “corridor”.
The extent of the Don Branch’s area of influence is intriguing because it extends all of the way to the former Leaside Station on the CPR rather than stopping south of the high level bridge near the Brickworks.
The “transit corridor” area for the Ontario Line extends further north than plans for the maintenance facility near Thorncliffe Park show.
Scarborough Subway Extension
The Scarborough extension shows a range of lands wider than, strictly speaking, a subway corridor, and this includes the portion of the SRT corridor through the Town Centre.
Note also the presence of the Sheppard East corridor.
The southern section of the Scarborough extension merges into the zone of influence of the Eglinton Crosstown at Kennedy Station.
Note that the Eglinton line is only a “priority project” from Mount Dennis westward, there is no restrictive blue zone around the part of the line from Mount Dennis to Kennedy.
Cedarvale (Eglinton West)
Caledonia and Mount Dennis Stations have expanded zones around them both because they are interchanges, and because of the yard at Mount Dennis.
Westward from Mount Dennis, the blue “transit corridor” reappears because this is a “priority project”. Note that it is substantially smaller than the corridor defined for the Ontario Line.
The west end of the proposed Crosstown extension ends on this map before it goes into the airport.
As on Eglinton East, the Finch line is not a “priority corridor” and therefore does not have a restrictive blue overlay around the line.
Yonge North Subway Extension
The map shows Langstaff GO Station, but does not show the “priority” North Yonge subway at all on whatever alignment it might take.
Like other non-priority projects, the Hurontario line does not have a blue restricted area around its corridor.
Sheppard East LRT
Yes, the Sheppard East LRT is protected for in the maps, including the proposed carhouse at the east end of the line.
Lake Shore East
An extremely large area around the GO corridor substantially exceeds the normal scope of GO controls. There is also provision for the beginning of the Bowmanville extension with protection around the land where the connection from the LSE corridor to the CP line would be built.
Lake Shore West
GO is showing a very large area around Mimico Yard, well over the usual width which can be seen on either side of the Canpa sub that runs north to Kipling. It is not clear what entitles Metrolinx to enforce such a large review area here (and in a few other locations such as Oshawa above).
Port Credit hosts the interchange between the Hurontario LRT and the LSW GO corridor.
Hamilton includes both the CN and CP corridors as well as protected lands well away from the actual locations of rail operations.
The line to Niagara falls has the standard zone around it all the way to its terminus including an incursion across the USA border. Does Metrolinx have undreamed-of ambitions for international expansion?
Sections of the Stouffville Corridor are covered by maps of intersecting routes. Most of the line north of Toronto simply has a GO Transit purple band all the way to the Lincolnville terminus.
Most of the Barrie Corridor simply has the standard GO Transit purple zone around it. Here is the terminal in Barrie.
Airport and UPX Spur
Kipling / Six Points