This post is the second in a series of four covering the June round of online updates to the Ontario Line project.
Updated June 18, 2021 at 9:05 am: The section on the First Parliament site has been updated with information about the location of the Parliament and other buildings provided by a reader, Michael Bethke, in the comments. With thanks for the information.
Updated June 18, 2021 at 8:00 am: A section discussing the two versions of the Metrolinx presentation deck has been added at the end of this article.
The first version of the presentation deck that Metrolinx posted contained two slides with howling spelling mistakes, but also with station diagrams that differed from those shown in the online presentation. Subsequently the “final” version of the deck was linked from their engagement page. I have updated the link to the revised deck below and have replaced the illustrations in the article. The first version is also available from my own site if Metrolinx deletes it from theirs.
From document properties in the published PDFs, it is clear that there are two different versions of the presentation deck, and the wrong one was published first.
At least Metrolinx caught the error before their online session, but they pushed out a deck with errors two hours ahead and did not flag that it had been changed on their site. Basic editing errors like street names raise issues about the care in other, more serious, parts of their work.
Meetings for other segments are scheduled on:
- June 24: Corktown, East Harbour, Riverside, Gerrard
- June 30: North to Eglinton from Danforth
This segment runs from Osgoode Station over to the Don River. An important structural point about the Ontario Line is that the downtown segment is in bedrock unlike the Eglinton Crosstown line which is tunneled through glacial till.
On Eglinton this meant that passing under Line 1 at Yonge/Eglinton and at Eglinton West Station required structural support of the existing subway and mining under Line 1 rather than continuing with the TBMs. On Queen, the existing stations are just above the level of bedrock which will support them while tunneling proceeds 10m or more below in rock.
|Projections for 2041||Osgoode||Queen||Moss Park||Corktown|
|Station usage (busiest hour)2||12,100||16,600||7,300||4,100|
|Transfers to/from Line 1 (busiest hour)2||5,700||6,100|
|Transfers to/from surface (busiest hour)2||1,000||600||1,500||1,900|
- Because station catchment areas overlap, some people and jobs will be double counted.
- Station usage may include passengers arriving, leaving and transferring which is a different number from originating passengers at each station. I have asked Metrolinx for clarification on this, but they have not yet replied.
Osgoode Station will include a link to Line 1 University. Two new entrances are proposed, one on the northeast corner in the grounds of Osgoode Hall, and one through an old bank building at Simcoe Street.
This diagram shows the general property requirements, but does not show the current use of the “130 Queen St” property as parkland with mature trees.
[This illustration has been replaced with the version from the “final” presentation deck.]
The drawing below incorrectly gives the impression that the tunnel is north of Queen Street running between Campbell House and the Canada Life building on the northwest corner of the intersection. This is an error that Metrolinx should correct. The map above clearly shows the tunnel running under Queen Street.
[This illustration has been replaced with the “final” presentation deck version.]
This is the existing bank building at Simcoe Street that will become a station entrance.
The northeast corner of Queen & University is part of the Osgoode Hall park. Osgoode Hall is part of the very early years of Ontario and Toronto history. Metrolinx talks at some length about preservation of the fence, but not about the gardens that are an integral part of the site.
Here is the same area seen from the east. This is a park with mature trees that simply cannot be replaced by post-construction replanting/reconstruction.
An important alternative that was not discussed in the presentation is the proposal for reconfiguration of University Avenue so that the east lanes become pedestrian/park areas with all traffic shifted to the west side. This should allow the new entrance in this expanded space outside of the Osgoode Hall lands.
Here is a view of the proposed design looking south toward Queen Street.
At Queen Station, the Ontario Line will pass under Line 1 Yonge. The existing station has an underpass between the northbound and southbound platforms that was for the never-built Queen Subway. This may be used as part of the circulation system between the two lines, but there is no detailed design yet.
Most access to the station will be through existing entrances in buildings on all four corners, but some surface space is required to dig down to the Ontario Line. It is not yet clear just what would be built in these locations. The second drawing below shows existing entrance locations.
[The illustration below does not appear in the “final” version of the presentation deck.]
[The illustration below has been replaced with the “final” version. Note also that 176 Queen Street West is not on the southeast corner of Queen and Yonge. It is on the north side at Queen and Simcoe.]
Here is the northeast corner of Queen & James Streets. It is not clear just what Metrolinx plans to do in the limited space available in front of this tower.
Here is the southwest corner of Queen & Victoria Streets. [This photo replaces a previous one that incorrectly showed the northwest corner of the intersection.]
Moss Park Station
Moss Park Station will be located north of Queen Street in front of Moss Park Arena. The intent is to build this station mainly as cut-and-cover because the land is open space, and restore the park afterward. At the western end of the block, the line passes under Department of National Defense lands at Moss Park Armoury.
In response to a question during the online session, Metrolinx assured that there is no plan for a “Transit Oriented Community” at this station. Already there are development proposals for some of the lands on Queen Street, and this location is going to change considerably in the future anyhow. The park itself appears to be safe.
The drawings below showing the station effects at the surface do not show an emergency exit structure (compare to Corktown Station below). Metrolinx was asked about this in the online session and waffled on the issue of redundant paths between the tunnel and surface.
[The illustration below has been replaced with the “final” version.]
[The illustration below has been updated with the “final” version.]
This is the northwest corner of Sherbourne and Queen.
Corktown Station is located on the block between Parliament and Berkeley Streets between King Street and The Esplanade. This will be a large site because it will double as a tunnel launch site. The block north of Front will be used for the tunnel launch while the block to the south will be used for construction materials staging. Tunnels will be driven north and west from here to Queen Station, and south and east to the portal at the Don River.
The line passes under Cherry Street where there is a proposed extension of the streetcar further south to link into the planned Waterfront East LRT line. The question comes up from time to time about having a Cherry Station on the Ontario Line but there are two problems:
- It would be very close to Corktown Station.
- The Ontario Line will be on a grade at this point, although still well below street level, rising to the portal west of the Don River. This would not work for a station which must be more-or-less level.
During the online session, there was a question about using the Don Yard as a staging area and tunneling west from the portal location. Metrolinx replied that they had studied this but there is not enough room. That is a bit of a head-scratcher considering the relative size of the Corktown Station sites and the lands north of the rail corridor. However, there is also has the consideration of how such work would interfere with the GO Transit yard and the berm on which the rail corridor sits.
The station will replace all buildings on the two existing blocks and will include the First Parliament Site at The Esplanade (about which more below). [This illustration has been updated with the “final” version.]
This drawing shows the placement of the Ontario Line entrances but gives no hint of what is really in store for this property. [This illustration has been updated with the “final” version.]
The Government of Ontario has announced it intends to redevelop this site with five large buildings, mostly residential. The drawings below are taken from Infrastructure Ontario.
This is the general site plan:
At the north end will be the main entrance of the station.
The general massing of buildings and the link down to the station as seen from the northwest at Berkeley and King.
This is the view looking northeast from the foot of Berkeley Street at The Esplanade.
A major issue with this site is that the south end, now a parking lot, was the location of the First Parliament of Upper Canada (now called Ontario). At the time, The Esplanade was on the waterfront (hence its name). The building was torched by invading Americans during the War of 1812.
The City of Toronto has been working on plans for this area for many years, but these were pre-empted by the provincial announcement that it would expropriate the land for the Ontario Line. This has not exactly endeared Metrolinx and their project to the City and the local community. As they say in diplomatic circles, discussions are ongoing.
The site is of archeological interest both for colonial-era artifacts and for remains from the preceding indigenous settlements. Metrolinx goes to great pains to explain that they will engage in a full study of the site before they reach the point where the site becomes a staging area for Ontario Line construction. Eventually there will be some type of community/historical centre, and extensive consultation is planned. (See the presentation deck for more details.)
Unfortunately, Metrolinx does not have the strongest reputation for consultation and co-operation if this might interfere with plans already set in motion. How genuine their efforts will be remains to be seen.
As shown below, the North block will hold the new station and will be the major excavation first for tunneling and later for the station itself. The South block will be used as a materials staging area.
This is the view today from King and Berkeley looking southeast. The site is occupied by a car dealership and a Staples store.
One block further south, this looks northeast across the intersection of Berkeley and Front. The Parliament buildings, gaol and other more recent structures by Consumers Gas would have been on what is now the south side of Front Street where the Nissan dealership is today.
This parking lot is the south end of the site. This would originally have been quite near the shore of Lake Ontario before landfilling extended the city south. There was a path here linking The Esplanade to Mill Street.
A Tale of Two Documents
I began work on this article a few hours before the online session so that I could publish as quickly as possible afterward. To that end, when the presentation deck was posted by Metrolinx, I downloaded it. It is very common for journalists to start work on articles before an event using whatever materials are released in advance.
After the session ended, I noticed that two slides contained spelling errors that speak poorly to Metrolinx’ attention to detail.
We all make spelling mistakes. I certainly do and there are a few eagle-eyed readers who let me know about them fairly soon after I publish.
With Metrolinx, accuracy is important because the problems we can see like this could reflect a lack of attention to detail in other aspects of their work. I tweeted the versions shown above because I was unaware that they had updated the deck.
Also, bluntly, given the heavy handed approach Metrolinx takes to community relations and information sharing, they deserved to be called out on this.
On reviewing other illustrations, it became clear that this was not simply an update of a few pages to correct spelling, but a new presentation deck with revised illustrations. The new versions are now included in the main article.
The file Metrolinx posted originally was called “updated … final” and was created at 3:54 pm. It was exported from PowerPoint as a PDF. A copy is available here.
Here are the document properties superimposed on one of the erroneous pages.
The version that was used in the online session and which is now linked from the event page is called “final … final” and was created half an hour earlier at 3:14 pm. It was created by an Adobe utility that converts PowerPoints to PDFs, and is at an earlier PDF version (1.6) than the “updated … final” version (1.7). This was probably created on a different computer with older software. There was no indication on the event page that this file had been replaced.
This is not the first time I have picked up a document in advance of an online meeting and found it was different from what was used later. The deck for a discussion of the maintenance facility site selection originally included “confidential” information for “elected officials” that was stripped from the final version. This information was actually useful in explaining Metrolinx’ analysis whether one agreed with it or not.
This is not the first time Metrolinx has published erroneous material. Recently their number for total station usage on the west segment was cited as “daily” while the numbers for individual stations was for “the busiest hour”. I published with “daily” because the peak hour numbers appeared to be unreasonably high, and because the “peak” values totaled to the “daily” value Metrolinx itself published. I queried this discrepancy, but Metrolinx never replied. They did, however, change the erroneous web page. I have revised my article accordingly.
Metrolinx has still not published detailed demand projections for the Ontario Line. It is not clear whether “station usage” counts people who enter and leave the station, as opposed to only originating or transfer-on trips. Their station profiles explicitly state that transfers are in both directions. TTC’s published station usage counts include only passengers entering the station. This is an important distinction in comparing the Ontario Line with the existing network because counting ins and outs doubles the counts relative to the methodology used by the TTC (and for that matter by GO Transit for its own stations).
Metrolinx is paranoid about information leaks, and I have heard that “the plumbers” are at work trying to find where they might originate. This was not a leak. This was not a hack. It was a case where Metrolinx published a version of a document they did not intend for public view.
If Metrolinx were less secretive about their work and less combative about criticism, we might all just shrug and say mistakes happen and move on. But when their approach to “consultation” is to say “we can do anything we want” and to treat “consultation” as an opportunity to attack “myths and misinformation” with misinformation of their own, the relationship is very different.
Tweaking their corporate nose over spelling mistakes is the least I can do.