On March 27, 2022, Premier Doug Ford and a very chilly bunch of his political colleagues gathered near Exhibition Station for an official “groundbreaking” for the Ontario Line. Never mind that Metrolinx will not award the first of the main construction projects until late April, and the posed set of excavation machinery sat idle in the background. This was very much an event plugging the Tories’ overall platform and positioning construction, wherever and whatever it might be, as an economic engine for Ontario.
Concurrently with the press conference, which revealed absolutely nothing new, a new set of renderings for Ontario Line stations was released. In some cases these were quite large and were intended for media use. I have downsized them where needed to work better online.
Absent from these renderings are any of the development schemes that Infrastructure Ontario has proposed under its Transit Oriented Communities program.
The Premier’s speech contained a basic error in math when he claimed that the Ontario Line would add more than 50 per cent to the Toronto subway network. No. it is the four Ford “priority projects” announced in 2019 that will do this. It’s in the press release. Some speech writer screwed up.
Probably the most annoying part of the press conference was a statement by Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster who spoke glowingly of how well Metrolinx had worked with communities both in Riverside and in Thorncliffe Park to create an acceptable design. This materially misrepresents the very contentious relationship with both communities, and continues Metrolinx’ gaslighting of critics to give the impression that all is well, and it is the critics who are out of step.
If Metrolinx had been truly involved with communities along the line while it was being designed, a great deal of contention could have been avoided.
Exhibition Station will be a junction between GO Transit, the TTC and the Ontario Line. Something that is not clear in the images below is how the north-south circulation will fit together with the Gardiner Expressway, a possible extension of the streetcar line west to at least Dufferin, and possibly beyond to beyond Sunnyside.
The first drawing shows the north side of the station including the planned new street with a bus, but there is no sign of the streetcar infrastructure south of the Gardiner.
Major redevelopment is planned by Infrastructure Ontario north of the rail corridor, but this is not shown.
King/Bathurst and Queen/Spadina
The left drawing below shows the King/Bathurst entrance on the southeast corner. The other drawings show the southwest and northeast corners at Queen/Spadina.
None of these show the planned towers by Infrastructure Ontario.
Osgoode Hall’s forest will be substantially reduced to make way for construction of the access into the new station. The new entryway, which will replace an existing stairway in the sidewalk, will be on the northeast corner. A second entrance will use the old bank building on the southwest corner of Queen and Simcoe.
Entrance to Queen Station will continue to be through existing buildings: the Simpson’s building on the southwest and the Bank of Montreal building on the northeast corner.
Moss Park / Corktown
At Moss Park, the new station entrance will replace the treed open space now on the northwest corner of Sherbourne and Queen.
At Corktown, the station entrance is shown as a low-rise pavilion, but it will actually be part of a large tower according to the Infrastructure Ontario drawings.
This station is in one of the very contentious parts of the proposed route where the Ontario Line runs along an expanded GO rail corridor through Riverside. (The name Leslieville is a misnomer.)
On the left and centre are views looking east along Queen at what appears to be an expansion of the existing small plaza at Strange Street. The view on he right looks north on Degrassi Street from Queen showing how the new station encroaches into existing open space.
The space is portrayed as somewhat more open that it will really be through a “wide angle” viewpoint.
For comparison, here is what this area looks like today (Google Street View).
Gerrard / Pape / Cosburn
At Gerrard, a new bridge will be added west of the existing railway to carry the Ontario Line and the station over Carlaw and Gerrard. Redevelopment will occur in this neighbourhood, but not immediately over the station because of its location. The station entrance on the southwest corner appears to occupy a chunk of one of the parks that Metrolinx crows about expanding
At Pape and Danforth, the older buildings on the eastern portion of the block east of Pape will be replaced initially by the construction access site, and later by the new station entrance. This is an obvious location for development, but none is shown in the drawing.
At Cosburn, the station on the northwest corner will replace an existing row of low rise shops and residences. Again, redevelopment on a larger scale is an obvious future for the site considering that there is already a high rise neighbourhood to the west.
The station structure lies along the north side of Overlea Boulevard. The yard associated with the maintenance facility is visible in the background of the rightmost image. There is no indication of how this structure will relate to existing buildings on Overlea including the proposed new Islamic Centre that will be near the west end of the station.
Flemingdon Park / Science Centre
Flemingdon Park Station will be on the west side of Don Mills Road at Gateway Boulevard. The Ontario Science Centre is north of and behind the station.
Science Centre Station (which is now something of a misnomer) is on the east side of Don Mills Road north of Eglinton.
Does the Quebec company using Indian trains have a firm contract for this line? What a schlamozzle! However, whoever did the Ottawa LRT isn’t much good either. Why is it so difficult to get N. American transit done reasonably. Apparently the Europeans have been better at this. The word “corruption” comes to mind. 😠, Andy
Steve: We don’t know yet. The RSSOM contract which includes the vehicles has not been awarded yet.
Is the Osgoode entryway not on the NE corner of Queen and University? Perhaps that’s the same as the NW corner of the existing forest/treed area. I’m confused.
Steve: Thank for catching that. Yes, it should read “northeast” and I have fixed the article.
Thank you for sharing these renderings!
The Indians make some good shit. 10 years ago if you had asked who makes the best trains, the answer might have been the Germans or the Japanese but today, the answer might be the Chinese and the Indians.
I don’t know why they can’t just put in a few elevators and stairs and call it a day. Why is Metrolinx obsessed with having everything be its own building?
Steve: I think that they want a spiffy entrance to show off long before there is a new development to wrap in in.
I just can’t accept any of this as being anything more than wishful thinking and fantasy. Will something be built? Possibly/probably. But it’s akin to a version of “talk it up and they will come”.
Oh…yeah, that’s right. Election in June. Keep inflating the balloon!
The Exhibition Station “looks” nice in the artist rendering. However, will we still need camels to cross the asphalt desert to reach Ontario Place?
Steve: There is talk of something like gondolas, but it’s barely a dotted line on a map.
How nice of them to finally show their cards in the eleventh hour before their groundbreaking dog show.
Steve: I suspect these are rather old cards pushed out the door just to have something to show.
Thanks Steve, and commenters. I was a bit angered that there’s this blah-blah about doing a large error, (though I’d like to ensure we spend billions on smart transit), ahead of all final OKs, though the truncated EA process means any type of subway as long as it’s here EA means a rubber-stamp, the heck with concrete use tallies, and options etc. With the ‘asphalt desert’ of Exhibition to Ontario Place, would that be a suitable place for a train yard or do we need to thank the Covid/pandemic that the takeover and carving up of the Ex for developer boons hasn’t yet materialized? I sure hope that they don’t get around to actually signing any firm contracts, remembering that Mr. Harris ripped up the Eglinton contract that we’re almost done with now. Where are the rating agencies, though I think they were also asleep until the 2008 crisis was about done/obvious.
Steve: Contracts for the south civil works and the rolling stock, systems, ops and maintenance will be submitted before, but not signed until after the election in April and Fall 2022 respectively if they stay to current plans.
You responded to a commentator above saying:
However, according to IO Jan 2022 Market Update it states the following:
From my understanding, Phil Vester mentioned at the ceremony that he will have a better idea of the completion date once the initial bids start coming in and indicated that it would be around April. He didn’t indicate that in April the contract would be executed or before the elections. As per IO they indicate the contract will be executed between October – December 2022. Have now brought that timeline ahead by 7-8 months?
If you could provide some clarity about the contract execution and a double confirmation it is indeed before the elections that would be great!
Steve: Thanks for the correction. Yes, I was thinking of Phil Verster’s comment about bids coming in, and I believe that the RFP submissions are due in April. Contract execution, assuming that they stay on time, would be in the fall and definitely under whatever government is in place then.
I will correct my reply to the earlier comment.
Thanks for sharing.
On a separate topic, was there ever any discussion extending the Richmond hill line to 16th Avenue ? would make sense given its busy and there’s a mall there ..
Maybe a change in govt could make it a possibility.
Steve: There is talk of a yard further north beyond Richmond Hill, and that would be the impetus for another station if it could be added cheaply. At this point, however, Metrolinx seems to treat the need for more storage as a TTC/Toronto problem and does not have this in the budget.
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I’m confused. Drove through Don Mills & Eng. yesterday. There was a station on SE corner & NW corner, assuming this is part of underground LRT. They are building new stations in different location for Ontario Line? Assuming they’ll connect.
NE corner was levelled not sure for what. Development or transit?
Steve: There is a bus loop on the NE corner running east to west between Gervais Drive and Don Mills. The Ontario Line station will sit above the west end of it along the east side of Don Mills.
The whole thing will likely be enclosed by new development, but nothing has been announced yet. I would not be surprised to see the Loblaw’s Superstore property included in whatever happens there possibly with a new store in a “phase 1” on the south portion of the block, and then a “phase 2” where the store is now.
Could you please do some commentary on the architectural and public realm design?
Steve: The problem at this point is that these are simply concept drawings and we have no idea what is actually planned. A lot of the architecture will fall within the IO projects to be built on the station sites, and some of these plans are a lot more advanced than the Metrolinx drawings. This split suits Metrolinx because it diverts all discussion of public realm away from their own part of the project. They have literally said in public meetings “we just dig holes in the ground”.
That’s a tad simplistic when one considers things like the physical bulk and placement of their above-grade structures. For example, I think their “design” of Gerrard Station is an eyesore that tries to take up as much room visually as possible rather than being as unobtrusive an addition as possible.
There is also the very real problem that Metrolinx loves “consultation” that has no real input. Before designs come out, they say “we can’t talk about these because they are part of the design build contract”, but after that is awarded, suddenly it’s “too late” to make changes. It is not entirely clear just how much leeway the companies designing and building the line will have to modify what has been shown already.
Why can’t Pape station have the same configuration setup as Yonge Bloor subway station?. Destroying practically a city block to accommodate a Ontario line station that will not have additional surface routes like Pape station does not make any sense.
Steve: The rationale for this is that Metrolinx seeks to avoid turning Pape and Danforth into a copy of Yonge and Eglinton by shifting the Ontario Line east of Pape rather than running directly under it as was planned for the original Relief Line. The RL itself would have had some impacts as there were planned curves linking it to the Danforth subway east and west of Pape and it was not clear how much of this would have been mined out from the RL structure and how much would have been cut-and-cover.
There will be some cut-and-cover construction on Pape at Sammon for a crossover structure, but this will not take as long to build as a full station. Still, it’s going to be messy for several years.
De Grassi is so wide angle that it’s become a 2 way street 😉
Instead of putting the Osgoode Station entrance on the grass of Osgoode Hall, use the current northbound lanes of University Avenue. The current southbound lanes of University Avenue could be shared by both northbound and southbound lanes.
Likely will not happen because it would upset the almighty automobile gods.
Steve: I have already talked about this in a recent article about the Ontario Line.
Danforth bike lane and curbTO patios missing from Pape Station rendering. Is this provincial wishful thinking to see these removed?
Steve: I don’t think that the people who did these drawings cared about anything beyond “beauty shots” of fictional subway stations. Indeed, I suspect that some of these drawings have been around for a while.
Any renderings of East Harbour Station?
Steve: No. They show up in Cadillac-Fairview materials because the station is part of their development.
The draft Environmental Assessment documents that noise levels through Riverside exceed Dept. of Environment standards, conceding that the GO Lakeshore East line harms resident’s health. All levels of government have politically thwarted the due process of the law which requires approval of the Ontario Line by the Department of Environment. A Putinesque lawless act.
I was also disappointed in a tweet by Liberal leader Mr. DelDuca saying they’d go along with whatever was underway.
Is there only maybe $10B of excess spending in the four priority transit projects? We do need to spend on transit, and there will be larger sums required, but we do need to be smart about it vs. burying billions unnecessarily, and recognizing trends like WorkFHome, as high odds computers aren’t going away. And hospitals and nurses are stretched, badly, as only one example of $tress.
Steve: I am not surprised at all. Considering the damage he did when he was Minister of Transportation, the last thing he needs is to start messing with works in progress. That said, some works are further advanced than others, but he probably does not want to open that Pandora’s box. After all, he needs Metrolinx to keep supplying him with photo ops.
Montréal’s new trains are being built in India, but it’s a French design already widely used in Europe (and beyond). So is Ottawa’s tram, for that matter – I don’t know if the problems there came from the more severe weather, or from the use of local manufacturing.
Is it sure that Cosburn station will be on the northwest corner of Cosburn and Pape? The poor owner of the commercial property just completed a major years long rebuilding and topping up of the commercial property on the corner. Meanwhile the north half of the block up to Gamble Avenue was recently demolished and is a vacant lot which is where I assumed the new station would go. It was the old eagle gas station and small Plaza.
Steve: Metrolinx is taking the whole thing. Their construction plans include closing Cosburn west of Pape for a period (TBA) because the station extends south under the road.
The trees along the embankment are coming down as we speak.
The station actually is on the west side of Don Mills, on the south side of Eglinton, one bus stop north of its namesake. The northeast corner has a bus terminal with a tunnel connecting to the Eglinton LRT station. While. the name avoids duplicating “Don Mills Station” on the Sheppard line, it would be better as “Eglinton-Don Mills”. It now competes with the station names on University Avenue on Line 1 that include names of churches and a court, replacing logic with obscurity. On the other hand, New York has gotten along very well with “42nd Street” on multiple lines.
Steve: No, the station was originally going to be on the southwest corner, but has been moved to the northeast. Look at the Metrolinx Map.
A couple of the shots (Exhibition and Science Centre) show what look like Eglinton Crosstown rolling stock. Is that finally confirmed? We know the OL will be an LRT, but I thought they promised us some exciting new technology. Wasn’t that the justification for taking the Relief Line away from the TTC? And, as Scarborough RT shows, nothing could possibly go wrong with using an “exciting new technology.”
Steve: I think those vehicles are just stand-ins for whatever will actually be used. Vancouver’s Canada Line trains show up in Metrolinx publicity regularly, but the question is what will bidders for the Rolling Stock contract offer?
You are wrong. Alstom outsourced both design and manufacturing to India. A team of Indian engineers made several trips to Montreal to make sure that the new Indian trains are fully compliant with the system in Montreal which is why we did not see the Bombardier type screwups for the streetcars manufactured in Thunder Bay. Nothing is French with Montreal’s Indian trains except the company headquarters.
Construction already began on the Scarborough subway and the Eglinton Crosstown West extension last year which is why it is too late to cancel either of those. However, it is still not too late to cancel the Ontario Line and the Yonge Subway extension. Which project or projects are you hoping to cancel?
Steve: I think that the operative word here is “underway”. Even the Ontario Line will be “underway” in the sense that some “early works” are intended to begin soon. However, whether that prevents any changes from being made to the project is another matter. This will be a challenging decision for whoever takes over from Ford, assuming that he loses power.
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Anyway, do we at least know the specifications for the Ontario Line trains? Width, platform height, train length, automatic operation?
Steve: This will be a high platform line with trains approximately 100m long. The exact spec is to be determined by the bidder on the rolling stock contract. The cars will be more like the Skytrain cars in Vancouver than conventional TTC trains, with a planned capacity of 730-850 per train, depending on assumptions made about acceptable crowding levels. The TTC uses 1,100 as the design capacity of a TR train on Line 1, but this is less than the theoretical capcity of a full train. The difference lies in what can be achieved in a crush and what can be sustained over an extended period with acceptable station dwell times. The line will be fully automatic.
Expanding on what Kevin Tuttle noted about Cosburn station, the southern end of the existing building is brand new…and still unoccupied. One of the original maps had a station entrance in the middle of the renovated part but not all of it.
Steve – You mentioned that the station will consume the entire section from Cosburn to Gamble. However, early drawings show the surface level section only being where the existing building is. Is this also a TBC element (beyond being the staging area during construction)?
Steve: I think you mean TOC (Transit Oriented Community). We don’t know yet for sure, but I would not be surprised. Also, I suspect that some of these drawings have been around for a while and so may not match current plans, but were trotted out for show.
David Arthur: Yes, the Montréal-specific work is being done in India, but the basic Alstom Metropolis platform is not a new product.
Sorry to tell you but you are wrong and Jay is right.
Jay is 100% correct that these trains being used in Montreal, many countries in Europe, and other locations were not just manufactured in India but were also designed in India. Alstom set up engineering design teams in India 14 years ago (in 2008) due to the abundance of high quality engineering graduates in India. I don’t even think that there are trains being designed in France any longer. India is now also exporting rolling stock (Indian designed and Indian manufactured) not just to other Asian countries, Australia, and the Middle East but also to Europe, North America, and South America. India now has the second most extensive metro/subway/regional train systems in the world (second only to China). India is also on track to fully electrify its vast train network (both passenger and freight) by 2024.
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Why are you so negative? At least there is a plan and they are going to start building.
Steve: I am not negative, but that’s the sort of BS Metrolinx puts out about any of its critics. There is a basic problem with the station designs in that key features are missing, and frankly I suspect what they will actually build will not look like these “beauty shots” trotted out mainly as pre-election publicity. Communities along the line have been asking for ages “what will the stations look like”, and Metrolinx refused to show them. Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster is living on another planet claiming that Metrolinx has worked with communities to improve the line when, in fact, examples he cites are of the most contentious locations: Thorncliffe Park, Riverside and Osgoode Hall.
We have needed a “relief line” for ages, but so much of the Ontario Line’s planning has been secretive and excluding many affected parties. It’s all about Doug Ford’s ego, and of Metrolnx planners proving that they know better than the TTC what should be built. It did not need to be this way, and the blame for a lot of the problems lies squarely with Metrolinx.
There was a plan for the Relief Line South, but Ford killed it. As for the Relief Line North, Metrolinx was supposed to be working on it, but sat on their hands. Now they claim that they invented the idea when in fact they were holding public consultations before Ford came to power.
A big part of the story is that the relief line was supposed to be a real subway, not an LRT, with reduced capacity. That’s something that Metrosux and Doug the Thug have been able to get so much of the media to ignore. So many of them talk about “the new subway line”. I’m not an LRT hater, but that is a massive downgrade on a line that will probably see heavy ridership from launch.
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I know I’m stating the obvious, but the subway/LRT ‘confusion’ sinks even lower than Singapore Bill suggests. In many places on the line, taxpayers will get an LRT for the per metre price of a subway. This is Doug’s finest hour!
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Many aspects of this line are…. shall we say, unpalatable. But it is an improvement, and doing nothing and cancelling this project would be just about one of the worst things a government could do. Considering the billions of dollars already spent on this thing. Let’s just hope it gets mostly completed. I mean, who am I kidding here, we all know the entire thing won’t be completed. But at least something would be great…. I should clarify, by something I mean a working running line, like a boondoggle, or a billion dollar ‘whoopsie’.
John N.’s comment really shows the sad state things are in. When “I hope they just build something for a change” is the sentiment, rather than “Let’s build good transit for the city”, you’re going to wind up with wasteful crap, like the subway to Vaughan, SSE, and the Richmond Hill extension. “Just building something” — and with a strong political agenda behind it — is how we got saddled with the Scarborough RT. We need better, but politicians have seen they can get more votes out of promising BS years away than doing something useful today. Like John N., I am of the “I’ll believe it when I see it” crowd
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Wklis suggested using the Northbound lanes of University Avenue, preserving the trees and grounds at Osgoode Hall.
There is a plan to reduce University Avenue to just two lanes, each way, and to turn the other langes, and the broad median in between, into a long skinny park, running from College, to Queen, combining the green space at Queen’s Park with the green space at Osgoode Hall.
It would sure seem stupid to cut down those trees, if four lanes of University Avenue are turned into park land.
BlogTO wrote about the University Avenue Parkland proposal.
Steve: I have also referred to this plan in past articles about Osgoode Station. It’s a case where a good idea has languished at the City where the focus downtown has been elsewhere, notably on the Rail Deck Park proposal, and Metrolinx gets to bull ahead with their scheme. The City is only just now waking up and trying to challenge the plans when they should have been much more vocal, much sooner, not that Metrolinx would have listened.
When GO was dissolved in Dec of 2006 and Metrolinx was created by the Liberals as an arm’s length unaccountable political buffer, the unsuspecting public and honourable servants had no idea about a transit future of pathological lying chaos and waste.
Some of us who worked in transit could see where all the money was going. And got to know very well the type of privateers who had hijacked public transit. Being sold the most expensive complicated and unreliable fare system in the world was only the beginning.
Mountains of evidence of being ripped off have not been enough to convince our political leaders unions and the travelling Public to dissolve Metrolinx.
Torontonians should get the gold metal for being world class. World class idiots.
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Do you think Metrolinx could have chosen an uglier design for the Gerrard Station and bridge? Is this the final design or just for the press release?
Steve: Yes, it is a truly appalling design, but is not final. I can only hope they will improve on this before they build it.
“World class idiots” is a bit harsh; how do you avoid Metrolinx when the two parties that share power in Ontario both support it? With covid, Ukraine, and Ottawa anarchists to be concerned about; dopey, selfish politicians can get away with pretty much anything.
Those elevated stations all look like giant monstrosities. I can’t believe what I was seeing. Also I hope the artist rendering of Science Centre station mistakenly forgot a lane on Don Mills. There’s no way that any lanes should be taken away from that street knowing it is the DVP-parallel road with capacity to handle traffic when DVP has issues.