This is the fourth and final article in my series about the Ontario Line Open Houses. See also:
- Ontario Line Environmental Assessment Open Houses: Part I – General Thoughts
- Ontario Line Environmental Assessment Open Houses: Part II – North Section
- Ontario Line Environmental Assessment Open Houses: Part III – South Section
Many issues affect the Thorncliffe Park section of the Ontario Line, to the point where I have split this off into a separate article.
Listening to all of the debates, I cannot help seeing that many problems arose from Metrolinx’ trademark secrecy coupled with a piecemeal approach to planning in a large, important neighbourhood.
The transit line was, in effect, dropped out of the sky as a line on the map fitted as best it could (depending on one’s definition of “best”) through the community without advance consultation. Many wider needs were beyond the project’s scope, and yet it is clear that Thorncliffe Park requires an integrated plan for its future including many elements:
- The future of lands south of Overlea including an aging mall and its parking lot.
- Whether low-rise commercial/industrial buildings north of Overlea will remain in the long term, and if not, what will this area become?
- What should Overlea Boulevard look like as the main street of a future Thorncliffe Park? There is already a plan for the east end of Overlea, but what of the entire street?
- How will a growing population be served both for public facilities such as schools and businesses providing local, walkable access?
- What is the target population and demographic? Will Thorncliffe’s growth be driven by a forest of high-priced condos, or a mix of building types and affordability?
- How will open space and parkland be provided in an area where parking lots are a dominant feature?
- What is the future of lands in the Leaside Industrial area and how can redevelopment there be linked with the needs of Thorncliffe Park, including the MSF yard’s location?
I fully expect the response to be “this is an important transit project and we cannot wait for an overall plan”. That would be the response of a construction agency eager to do its master’s bidding, not of a city-building agency with a wider outlook. An area plan would be an iterative process that could identify key elements up front, but guarantee a wider scope for the neighbourhood’s future. Most importantly, it would occur in public to bring trust that there was no hidden agenda or deliberate sidelining of community concerns.
The remainder of this article consolidates the Q&A sessions from the online open houses.Continue reading