Metrolinx Vandals And Osgoode Hall (Updated)

Updated November 21, 2022 at 10:45 am: The Sir William Campbell Foundation has written to Metrolinx challenging their plans for Osgoode Hall’s garden and noting specifically their previous commitments to await a City-commissioned study.

Earlier this year, after considerable debate about the future of the trees in the park at Osgoode Hall, Metrolinx agreed to the City undertaking a study of alternative designs for the new Ontario Line station there. No action would be taken until a consultant’s report, commissioned by the City, was delivered and presented to Council.

The report is supposed to be completed in 2022 and reported to Council in the first quarter of 2023.

Now, Metrolinx has advised the Law Society of Ontario that tree clearing will begin on December 5, 2022. This is in direct contravention of the agreement Metrolinx made with the City, the Law Society and other community groups.

It is no secret among any groups and politicians, with the possible exception of the Premier, that Metrolinx’ word cannot be trusted on any “promises” or “commitments”. This outcome does not surprise me one bit based on their past behaviour. Why should anyone participate in their public participation shams?

There is no word from our all-powerful Mayor who made threatening noises – back when he was trying to get re-elected – about protecting Osgoode Hall. How long has he known that this would be the outcome, that Metrolinx would forge ahead with their plans on their schedule, and the City’s position be damned?

It is entirely possible that Metrolinx knows what the consultant report says based on discussions they have already had. If so, and if the consultant’s position was “gee whiz guys, I really would like to save your trees, but …”, then simple decency demands that the report be released and the options debated before Metrolinx launches into their tree clearing. But that’s not how Metrolinx works. Bull ahead, make an irreversible move and to hell with the consequences.

My opinion of Metrolinx is no secret, even though I keep trying to find touches of good will, of professional quality among the dross and endless feel-good PR they churn out. Sadly, Metrolinx never surprises, never actually listens and consults, beyond asking what colour of toilet paper we want to clean up their inevitable mess.

The timing of the announcement, right as the new City Council is getting established and distracted by its own problems, is typical. Catch the opponents when they have other things on their plate.

This is a disgrace for Metrolinx, and a disgrace for Mayor Tory who can huff and puff for the cameras, but when it counts turns out to be Doug Ford’s puppet.

28 thoughts on “Metrolinx Vandals And Osgoode Hall (Updated)

  1. Why not send this to the Board before their next meeting? Surely there must be at least someone on the board who would feel some sense of accountability and responsibility to its shareholders – the tax paying public. And possibly some shame in being complicit with these actions?

    Steve: Shame? Metrolinx? Surely, you jest. CEO Phil Verster will trot out his usual speech about how they have consulted with everyone, and for some project you just have to make some changes, breaking eggs to make an omelette.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, Metrolinx has shown its profound dishonesty in many ways. But Metrolinx is 100% controlled by the provincial government. If Metrolinx is dishonest, that is because Doug Ford is sleazy and dishonest.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We should not be cutting down mature trees. The station should be built a little further north on the east side of University Avenue to preserve the northeast corner of Queen/University and heritage area at Osgoode.

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  4. This is outrageous! It’s hard to understand how Metrolinx keeps getting away with this arrogant behaviour. As part of a community group battling for our rights related to the Yonge North Subway Extension, we had to fight long and hard to get the agency to make public commitments on noise and vibration mitigation for the subway line. The YNSE will have Trains veer off Yonge Street and run directly under our homes, a ravine, a school and seniors condominium in an established community. We are asking that these commitments be in writing and in contracts – otherwise no way to hold them to account when things surely run awry.

    The Law Society should get their members out to Osgoode to protest – and use their expertise as lawyers to put a stop to the tree cutting.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. And possibly some shame in being complicit with these actions?

    How are you going to shame an organization led by one Phil Verster? He outed himself as a huge and opportunistic ass kisser in 2018 when Ford swept into power and dropped his axe on Metrolinx. Phil’s senior-puppet-master-in-charge of this future RT light-metro-disaster-in-the-making probably wanted the entire show underway like yesterday. He’s been jonesing for more Scarborough RT lines since the 1980s! He likely doesn’t care one bit about how humane or inhumane the slaughter might be so long as he gets his sausage ASAP.

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  6. Yes, Metrolinx has shown its profound dishonesty in many ways. But Metrolinx is 100% controlled by the provincial government. If Metrolinx is dishonest, that is because Doug Ford is sleazy and dishonest.

    Yours is a helpful reminder that we sometimes forget: Metrolinx is the provincial cabinet at Queen’s Park in disguise. When Doug Ford came for and took Philip’s budget, Philip chose to line up and start parroting Doug’s talking points. Any decent and honourable leader, or even man, would have resigned instead of turning himself into a puppet. Philip could learn a few things from the folks on the conservation boards.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Govt. What govt.? They’re not out for the people only for themselves. It’s all about the money they can get, not the well being of the masses. I’m sure Metrolinx will get what they want as it will look good in the history books for these politicians to have this fabulous subway infrastructure built during their term. Nothing heritage is sacred anymore. Rules that were to preserve iconic & old buildings have been thrown out the window. So disappointing!

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  8. A City permit is required to cut down mature trees – it seems both reasonable and sensible to refuse any such permits until the Report has been discussed by Council. If the City was a party to the agreement, then the Mayor should ensure that no permits for tree removal are provided. Over to you, Mr. Mayor

    Steve: Sadly, a provincial agency can do whatever it pleases, and a City permit is just a nicety. Metrolinx has been cutting trees for GO corridor widenings in many places, some over the vitriolic objections of neighbours and Councillors.

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  9. Agreed, Metrolinx can’t be trusted with anything. The Crosstown LRT is 2 years late and now they are going to cut down trees that are beautiful and help the area with shade for a subway station that could be moved to another part of the area.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Utterly shocking! The park-like grounds around Osgoode Hall provide a welcome green space downtown that is open to the public and should be preserved! We should all contact our city councillors to demand that they oppose Metrolinx’ action.

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  11. The Feds are providing 40% of the money and believe they have tied conditions to Ontario’s execution of the project. Here’s some more info.

    The only real opposition to the Province is the Feds and they are happy to attend the ribbon cutting but disappear when the detailed problems arise.

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  12. Metrolinx is destroying 56! old growth trees and is using the majority of Moss Park as their staging area after not consulting residents who live close by. This will be an unbelievably difficult loss for Moss Park residents for 7++ years. There will be no more basketball, baseball, families having a place to go with kids, etc etc.

    Metrolinx is not accountable to anyone. It’s deplorable.

    Steve: Yes, the greenery at Moss Park is another loss. I focused on Osgoode Hall because this is one location where Metrolinx actually agreed to wait for a review, and has now broken that guarantee.

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  13. Throughout this note you rail against Metrolinx. Yet at the end you finish with connecting Mayor Tory to Premier Ford without indicating any link between Premier Ford and Metrolinx. Why?

    Perhaps you should have said Doug Ford, the acolyte of Mike Harris.

    Steve: If you have been paying attention to Toronto news lately (your email address is in the UK, although your IP address is local), you will know that Ford and Tory are joined at the hip (although a possibly more intimate connection might be appropriate) on the subject of bypassing Council approvals for anything that Ford/Ontario declares to be a provincial priority. The Ontario Line certainly fits that bill.

    Tory huffed and puffed about the affront to Osgoode Hall, but it’s hard to believe he did not know this was coming.

    As for Ford and Metrolinx, the latter is a provincial agency and does exactly what Ford wants them to do. Any pretense that they are independent is nonsense.

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  14. Steve: Earlier this year, after considerable debate about the future of the trees in the park at Osgoode Hall …

    I support your concerns about the trees but this is NOT a park, this is private property.

    Steve: Which is open to the public and has been since before all of us were born.

    Steve: There is no word from our all-powerful Mayor who made threatening noises – back when he was trying to get re-elected – about protecting Osgoode Hall.

    You are misinformed. The mayor can do nothing as it is beyond his control. This is NOT city property and the province can just override the mayor. You are just looking for a scapegoat. It should be noted that there is no opposition from the Government of Ontario or the Law Society of Ontario, this is beyond the mayor’s control.

    Steve: The Mayor has the option of stating his opposition even if he has no direct control. My complaint with the Mayor is that he was happy to ask Ford for new anti-democratic powers without even telling us, and so he obviously is not just sitting on the sidelines. Of course the Government of Ontario is not objecting, it’s their project! As for the Law Society, they are privately displeased but not in a position to challenge the Province. It is you who are misinformed.

    Update: “Mike Wembley” is one of many aliases of a troll who posts here regularly, and I usually delete their comments (after saving copies).

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  15. Absolute and utterly disgrace. No idea how Metrolinx and Ford have not been investigated for corruption. They clear cut Eglinton and it us now a waste land. They will do the same when they build the train yard in Thorncliffe. Complete and utter disregard for green spaces, historical properties or due process. There will not be much left of this beautiful city by the time Ford, Tory and Metrolinx are finished.

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  16. Thousands of trees were cut down for the construction of the Eglinton LRT but you never said one word in objection. Hundreds of thousands of trees across Toronto have been cut down in the last few years for various construction projects (public and private) but you never objected to any of it. And yet you make a big deal about half a dozen or so trees being cut down pretending that it is for environmental reasons. Perhaps it would be better to skip the Osgoode Station construction so that these half a dozen or so trees can be protected. Another possibility is for Metrolinx to expropriate Campbell House instead of a portion of the Osgoode Hall property but if you also want to save Campbell House from demolition, then moving it is also an option.

    Steve: For the information of readers, “Thomas” is one of many aliases of a troll.

    He has not been paying attention to the work I did on the Riverside section of the Ontario Line and its effect on greenery, nor my support for the Small’s Creek neighbourhood affected by GO clearances. “Thousands” o trees were not cut down for Eglinton. I don’t “pretend” the Osgoode Hall issue is for environmental reasons. It is a historic site and the trees form part of the whole.

    The big issue here is that Metrolinx, as they have done so often, did a bait-and-switch with the community saying they would await the outcome of a study on alternatives to their plan, and then invented the need for archeological investigations, something that should have been part of their overall timeline from the beginning, as a justification for starting early and pre-empting the study. Moreover, the amount of space Metrolinx will occupy at Osgoode Hall is much larger than the area of those five trees.

    Basically Metrolinx lied to get the community, Councillors and the Mayor off of their back, and now are back to their old habits of doing what they want, when they want, and screw everyone else.

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  17. Thanks Steve and most commenters. A key part is that the alignment is likely quite wrong, and we could perhaps save many many billions and trees by a re-think of this core transit line from the zig-zag to a direct line route under say Adelaide St., and thus bring it all up quite a few metres. Squandering billions is part of the process however as it feels like endangering the core of old TO just because it’s Toronto. DesulTory, and Dougtatorship is a mis-spelling, but kudos to the chitizen who coined Metrolies. (The federal level should be given real pressure to yank fundings, and for some disallowance too.)

    Steve: At this point we are stuck with the Queen Street alignment. After all the City chose it for the Relief Line, and Metrolinx is just following the City’s policy.

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  18. I really do not understand (I am no transit expert, but I care). If there is already a subway station at Queen & University, and there are entrances to it at every street corner, then why are we talking about removing trees from Osgoode Hall? The station is underground, is it not? The Ontario Line is being tunneled underground, is it not? So, are they planning a fancy pavilion at the corner to advertise the OL? A separate entrance? I really do not understand.

    Oh, and Hamish Wilson is absolutely right, why put the OL on Queen Street when Adelaide (or Wellington) makes much more sense? I remember the comment from years past that someone (politically) decided that City Hall needed a subway at the front door. The zig-zag is a waste of taxpayers’ money for the sake of politics.

    It seems that wasting of taxpayers’ money is a political skill that the current administration at Queens Park is most adept at.

    Steve: The current station is only barely accessible via an elevator in the Opera House. The new entrance is planned to have escalators and an elevator (or two) linking street level with the existing mezzanine and down to the OL station. That takes a fair amount of space particularly when it is consolidated in a single shaft. The related challenge is that the existing subway structure lies on the east side of the street. The “simplest” approach is to build a new shaft in the Osgoode Hall lands.

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