This continues the series reviewing the construction plans for downtown stations on the Ontario Line and their effect on roads and nearby properties.
Like Queen/Yonge station described in the previous article, Osgoode connects with the Line 1 subway in a new two-level station. However, the construction approach will be completely different.
The expanded Osgoode Station will be dug from two excavations at opposite corners of the station rather than from access pits in the middle of Queen Street. The primary entrance to the expanded station will be at the northeast corner of University and Queen, a space now occupied by part of the park in front of Osgoode Hall.
A second entrance to the station will be built at Queen and Simcoe and will use the existing bank facade for its exterior.
The diagram below shows a much larger portion of this park to be occupied for construction than was previously thought to be threatened. Compare the orange hatched area below with the next drawing from the June 2021 round of consultations.
This drawing shows “Station Building 1” occupying about half of the frontage on University between Queen Street and the gate to the walkway across the front of Osgoode Hall. In the diagram above, the entire width of this area is taken for construction as well as part of the area north of the walkway along the street, and the lawn in front of the Hall.
Given the effect any work within the Hall’s grounds will have on the park, this is not a trivial change. Quite bluntly, I believe Metrolinx showed the smaller scope in the drawing above because proposing to take so much of the park, even temporarily, would have produced an uproar. They stick handled their way around any discussion of Osgoode Station during the consultation sessions. This has the smell of deliberate misrepresentation.
If anyone is considering a design based on a proposed reallocation of lane space on University and expansion of the east side pedestrian realm, they have been very quiet about it. Conveniently for Metrolinx, this is not a residential neighbourhood with the usual population of critics quick to leap on their proposals.
All of the trees at Osgoode Hall in the photo below lie on lands shown as the construction zone for this project. Civic vandalism in the name of “progress” does not begin to describe this proposal.
The main construction work begins in July 2023 with station excavation running to March 2026. The station exterior would not be complete until Fall 2027, and the lane closures would not be undone until sometime in 2029. (See the city’s report for details.)
However, some works must take place in advance of the main project:
- Utility relocation from March 2022 to May 2023.
- Other “setup, preparatory and enabling works” from July 2022 onward. It is not clear just what these entail or which areas of the site would be affected.
At various times in 2022 there will be short-term closures of parts of Simcoe Street and University Avenue (see the list of Early Works closures for details).
For much of the project, various lanes and parts of sidewalks will be close or restricted:
- Queen Street road lanes will not be affected.
- On the east side of University to north from Queen (see photo above), the street is now four lanes wide with the curb lane used for a bike path. In this area, the sidewalk will be taken over for construction and pedestrians will be shifted into what is now the northbound curb lane.
- NOTE: The report is unclear about whether there will actually be a cycling lane or not, or when. “The existing northbound curbside bicycle lane on University Avenue fronting the Osgoode Hall will be closed for construction staging purposes. However, the northbound travel lanes on University Avenue will be realigned and a protected 2.0 metres wide northbound bicycle lane around the work zone will be provided.” [p 28]
- On Simcoe Street, the west sidewalk and part of the street will be closed between Queen and the laneway running midblock west from Simcoe. The intent is to use the west side of Simcoe as a staging and storage area.
- The east sidewalk on Simcoe will be narrowed to leave enough room for one traffic lane and a cycling lane, although that lane is not shown clearly on the drawing above.
- Pedestrian access will be maintained in front of the bank/second entrance building along Queen west of Simcoe.
Here is what Simcoe Street looks like today. The bank on the left will become the second station entrance.
The only explicit changes proposed for this area are the relocation of the westbound streetcar stop east to a point clear of construction, and closing the existing station entrance north of Queen on the east side of University.
The report proposes a westbound York/University stop on Queen, but this would be closely after streetcars have stopped northbound on York at Queen. With the northeast station entrance closed, passengers transfer passengers are more likely to use the southeast entrance (through the Opera House) and a stop on the north side of Queen does not make sense. Better that transfers walk between the Opera House entrance and the proposed stop at York & Queen along the south side of the street.
The eastbound stop on Queen at University will remain.
Metrolinx has not published diagrams of Osgoode station below street level showing how the existing and new spaces and circulation patterns will work.
In the next article, I will review King/Bathurst and Queen/Spadina stations.