Osgoode Station Entrance Review

Metrolinx plans along several of its corridors have provoked community opposition and proposed alternative schemes, but Metrolinx has been quite intransigent about “just getting things built”, the mantra of the Ford government at Queen’s Park. Opposition is not merely steamrolled, but is painted as anti-transit, out of touch, and nimbyist in preventing the wider population from enjoying the benefit of new transit lines.

This does not endear Metrolinx to many groups (and they stretch well into the 905, not just central Toronto), but Metrolinx does not care. For them, it’s all about managing the message. Most communities just roll over and give in to an unstoppable force trying to make the best of a bad situation. “Consultation” amounts to picking the colour of the tiles for a bathroom reno, and hoping that the contractor actually installs the ones you selected.

Several sites along GO corridors and the Ontario Line have been subject to tree clearing either to open construction sites, or to remove trees that will conflict with electrification infrastructure. A small grove at Osgoode Hall, although far from the largest area Metrolinx has cleared, received much publicity because of its location. The northeast corner of Queen and University is a park beside one of Toronto’s oldest buildings, a green space complementing the square at City Hall just to the east and a more recent arrival, Campbell House, to the west.

Although the park was owned by the Law Society of Ontario, the portion Metrolinx requires was expropriated for the Ontario Line. The community around Osgoode Hall (a mix of the legal profession, the local BIA, residents and heritage advocates) convinced Toronto Council to undertake a review of Metrolinx plans in comparison with alternative designs that would preserve the treed parkland.

This report was produced by a consulting firm, Parsons, and was posted on the City’s website on February 4. It exists in two formats:

An interim injunction, in force until February 10, paused the felling of trees at Osgoode Hall for a time. Other locations have not been as lucky, nor have they had groups like the Law Society capable of taking on Metrolinx.

An important distinction for this site is that it also contains a heritage building, and there are concerns for potential damage Osgoode Hall might suffer from the overall construction plans. However, the injunction itself only applies to the trees, and it is not clear whether the wider issue of construction effects will form part of the broader argument when the application is heard.

Among the legal issues will be whether a heritage site with mixed ownership (the Law Society, Metrolinx and Ontario) can be treated as “indivisible” for the purpose of heritage preservation so that one owner, the LSO, can prevent changes on property of another owner, Metrolinx. There is also the question of whether Metrolinx can even be bound by an injunction as it is one of many agencies that are exempt from many provincial regulations.

In Brief

  • An interim injunction pauses work until February 10, with possible extension, pending further review.
  • The Parsons report commissioned by the City was published at the last moment, and was seized upon by Metrolinx to justify commencement of work on the same day as the injunction hearing.
  • Parsons concurs that the Metrolinx proposal is the best of those analyzed, but suggests that an alternative using the Campbell House site should be studied in more detail.
  • The Campbell House option would effectively displace the house from its location, and it is doubtful that it could return in as harmonious a setting as it has today.
  • Parsons does not afford the same treatment to the Osgoode Plaza proposal even though this is the major contender among the alternatives.
  • The City’s inaction on the proposed Osgoode Plaza is an (almost) missed opportunity to make the new station and the intersection into a major site downtown. If this is to be pursued, prompt action by the City is needed so that Metrolinx could adjust their construction plans accordingly.

If City Council, and most importantly Mayor Tory, are serious about an alternative to the Metrolinx plans for Osgoode Station, they should proceed as quickly as possible to endorse the Osgoode Plaza scheme and work with Metrolinx to adjust construction plans for Osgoode Station on the basis of road space on University Avenue that the plaza will free up.

In the presentation accompanying the report, the Osgoode Plaza option is shown first, and it is dismissed for various reasons notably the absence of detailed studies because the City has not yet embraced the proposed reconfiguration of University Avenue. Rather than recommending that the potential of this scheme be examined in greater detail, Parsons rejects it. This effectively prejudices the report to endorse the Metrolinx scheme as the only viable option, with a faint hope alternative that is worse than the original.

The Parsons Report’s Conclusions

Parsons states that the Metrolinx proposal is the best of those considered, although an alternative deserves more study.

The proposed site for the headhouse as located at ‘Location A – Osgoode Hall Site’ would appear to be the best qualified option for the design of the station; as it provides sufficient at-ground pedestrian and traffic flow at the critical westbound streetcar stop as located at University Avenue on Queen Street West, with a workable design for both the keyhole excavation site and the vertical circulation needed to connect the existing Line 1 concourse level with that of the Ontario Line.

While there are both temporary operational concerns during construction; together with both built and natural heritage concerns with the use of the Osgoode Hall site for the construction of the proposed headhouse on the northeast corner of the intersection, none of the other location options, as reviewed here, have proven themselves as being suitable for the development of a station design that meets the full set of criteria as analyzed in this review.

Location A causes irreversible damage to the integrity of the heritage resource, Osgoode Hall. There will be permanent loss of the heritage boundary, natural heritage, prominent views, and heritage fabric. These impacts can be mitigated with an interpretation plan, planting of new trees, the placement and height of the new headhouse and reinstatement of the fence. However, it should be recognized that there is a loss to this Federally, Provincially and Municipally recognized heritage resource.

The graphic material provided by Metrolinx for ‘Location B – Campbell House Site’ would suggest this site would benefit by a more fulsome review of the northwest corner site as a reasonable alternate location for the station building for Osgoode Station. The material provided by Metrolinx states categorically that the keyhole excavation cannot fit on the site as shown and shows the keyhole excavation site and the laydown space unmoved from their original location on Osgoode Hall property. It is suggested that Metrolinx provide a design for the Campbell Site location that relies on the same design criteria used by ‘Location A – Osgoode Hall Site’ that proves its lack of suitability, and thereby continues to rely on the Osgoode Hall site as a site for keyhole excavation and construction laydown activities.

Source: Parsons report at p. 34

Metrolinx seized on this as endorsement of its plans and began work at the site without waiting for review of the report by City Council. Metrolinx claims that they had only agreed to await the report’s publication, a position not shared by community groups nor by the Court.

In his ruling on the injunction application, Judge Chalmers observed:

Why commission a report if it is not going to be considered? The Parsons report was not released until the morning of the injunction hearing.

Source: LSO v Metrolinx ruling at par. 38

The question, however, is whether the conclusions should be accepted at face value, and whether Parsons fully examined the alternatives. In their review, Parsons notes that the City plans for reconfiguration of University Avenue have not been officially endorsed and that the proposed “Osgoode Plaza” on the east side of the existing street cannot be counted on as part of the station design decision.

This compromises the conclusion that only the Campbell House option “B” is a viable alternative.

Moreover, that scheme would effectively result in the removal of Campbell House from its current site along with the existing greenery around it. Option “B” requires that the house be “temporarily” moved to allow construction, and even if it were returned, it would share the site with a new subway entrance building. If the house moves, this should be a one-time effort to a new permanent location, although this would break the link between Osgoode Hall and the house of the first Chief Justice of Upper Canada (now Ontario).

Endorsement of the Campbell House option allows Parsons to appear to be providing an alternative, but one that is at least as unpalatable as the original.

As a general observation, the Parsons report is littered with typos and badly-edited text suggesting a rushed process with only light review.

[Historic note: Campbell House was originally located in the old Town of York at what is now the intersection of Adelaide, formerly Duke, and Frederick Streets. It was moved to its present location in 1972.]

The Metrolinx Proposal

Metrolinx’ design for Osgoode Station is shown below in illustrations from Metrolinx News. The proposed new main entrance (aka the “headhouse”) is on the northeast corner of Queen and University, and there is a secondary entrance on the southwest corner of Queen and Simcoe.

Both of these entrances will be accessible, an important point considering that they provide paths to the westbound and eastbound streetcar stops on Queen. Escalators are clearly visible in the drawings, and there are also elevators although they are not as obvious.

A caveat about the the proposed entrance shown on the left below is that it has no mechanical equipment on the roof for the elevators. If Metrolinx were to change the design, this would further interfere with the view of Osgoode Hall.

The drawing below shows a cutaway view of the structure. The existing Osgoode Station is under University Avenue on the east side of the street and much of the station box lies north of Queen Street.

Three of the four existing exits are shown here:

  • Two on the west side of University Avenue in the sidewalk are reached via a short tunnel under the west side of the street from the station concourse. They are stairways only.
  • One on the southeast corner is accessed through the Four Seasons Centre (Opera House) and includes a connection to the elevator from the parking garage below to street level. There is no escalator.

The fourth entrance, a stairway in the east sidewalk north of Queen, will be replaced by the new north entrance.

There will be a small expansion of the existing concourse and provision of added ventilation at the north end of the station.

Although the excavation for the north entrance building is very deep, the public area only goes down five levels to the point where a passageway will run across the top of the new station and link down to the shared centre platform. The additional levels below the public area only exist in the north entrance building, not in the south entrance at Simcoe Street.

The drawing below shows the Metrolinx proposal in plan view. An important issue about this site is that the existing subway station lies under the median and the western part of the northbound lanes. That structure creates a limit on the location of any new access shaft (aka “keyhole”) down to the Ontario Line.

Not shown are many underground utilities that constrain any new station. Relocation is usually possible, but everything must still fit under the intersection.

There are two areas within the Osgoode Hall grounds that are affected:

  • The “keyhole” which will be used for construction access to the tunnel and which will become the site of the new north entrance. This is on the corner of the site, and is the area where most of the affected trees, notably the oldest of them, are located.
  • A “laydown area” for staging construction materials. This is on the lawn west of Osgoode Hall.

An important consideration for construction is that these two areas be near each other to simplify movement of material into the tunnel. If the main construction access moves to a location west of University, then a laydown area on the east side will be difficult to use and will add traffic around the site to shift material between the laydown and the keyhole. The laydown ideally should be large enough to hold enough inventory that underground construction is not delayed waiting for resupply.

With respect to park restoration, the future structure in the keyhole area will be quite close to the surface. This makes planting new trees that will have deep root systems impossible and the area cannot be regenerated in its current form even over a long period.

Circulation Within the Station

The Parsons report flags issues regarding the general design of the station. Most striking among them is that there is no direct connection between the Line 1 and future Ontario Line platforms. Riders transferring between the two subways must do so via the existing concourse level rather than directly from one platform to another.

One cannot help noticing how Metrolinx hyped the easy connections between GO and the Ontario Line at Exhibition and East Harbour stations, but does not make similar provisions connecting with the existing subway at Osgoode and at Queen Stations. This is a direct result of the depth of the Ontario Line tunnel and the difficulty of retrofitting a direct link into the Line 1 platform at Osgoode.

The existing Osgoode Station concourse provides an underpass at the intersection that could be part of a future PATH expansion. However, the Simcoe entrance connects only with the deep Ontario Line station, not with that concourse.

A rider entering at Simcoe would have a roundabout route to the existing Osgoode Station on the University line – down to the Ontario Line platform, east to the main entrance, up to concourse level, and then down to the University line platform. There is a rough analogy to the arrangement at Bloor-Yonge station where the west entrance on Yonge Street only connects to the Line 2 (BD) platform and sees comparatively little use. However, the Ontario Line station is much deeper and the route more circuitous to the Line 1 platform.

Direct access from the street to the concourse and Line 1 is available through the existing exits on the SW corner of the intersection near the future Simcoe entrance, but these are only stairways.

The Simcoe entrance will include fare barriers at street level precluding it from being part of an underground pathway system.

The depth of the station (about 30m below ground) makes reliable accessibility an important part of the design. Redundancy is provided at the main entrance on University with triple escalators and dual elevators, but not at the Simcoe entrance.

Detailed pedestrian flow simulations are not available for all of the configurations, although there ar concerns that future demand will overwhelm some options especially for street access on the northeast corner of the intersection.

Options Reviewed By Parsons

Although a cursory pass through the Parsons report might give the impression that Metrolinx reviewed these options equally, there are several cases where Parsons says that Metrolinx provided inadequate details to answer questions about their viability. Readers should beware of assuming that all of these have received the same level of design review.

Although there are nine options, in practice there are common issues ruling out most of them, particularly if the goal is to shift construction out of the Osgoode Hall lands.

If the laydown area shifts away from its proposed location, this will almost certainly require more extensive street closure as there is no comparable off-street area. An advantage of the Osgoode Plaza scheme is that by assuming part of University Avenue will be closed to traffic anyhow, this area is made available during station construction.

A common issue with all options is the need to provide two separate paths from street level down to the Ontario Line to meet fire code, and these cannot be side-by-side at platform level. This brings constraints on the location of entrances at the surface to ensure separation underground.

Another common issue is the size and impact of the “keyhole” for the main construction access and future vertical links into the station. One option Parsons considered was to remove spoil from excavation of station caverns and to deliver material from other locations on the route through the tunnels. However, this would require that a nearby access point would be completed to the point it could be used with a temporary railway (the same sort of thing used during tunnel construction). This would delay the start of Osgoode Station construction until enough of a nearby access was completed to the point of being reliably available.

Several considerations drive the need for a large keyhole and these are described in the report.

While the latest proposed design iterations provided appear to suggest the permanent keyhole excavation size can be mitigated somewhat by shifting it closer to the Line 1 station/tunnel box (at the trade-off of increased project risk), the size of the excavation pit is driven by several factors which may not be able to be mitigated, including the need to accommodate life safety issues such as fire exits, Traction Power Substation (TPSS), Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) extraction and spoils removal due to requirements related to the transition from bored tunnels to SEM mining techniques for the running tunnels east of Osgoode Station.

Source: Parsons report at p. 19

This raises a few points about the station design and the planned tunnel construction:

  • A substation will be included within the future structure.
  • The tunnel east from Osgoode Station (presumably to Albert Street which is the west limit of the new station at Queen and Yonge) will be mined.
  • The tunnel boring machines which will start at the Exhibition will be removed at Osgoode Station rather than continuing east. The keyhole must be large enough to accommodate this.

The overall ranking by Parsons [at p. 18] for constructability is:

  • Tier 1 – Good
    • Location A – Osgoode Hall Site
    • Location B – Campbell House Site
    • Location C – University Avenue East Boulevard Site
    • Location I – T.O. Core Site
    • Location J – Osgoode Plaza
  • Tier 2 – Reasonable
    • Location E – Four Seasons Centre Site
    • Location F – Bank of Canada Building Site
  • Tier 3 – Challenging
    • Location D – University Avenue Median Site
  • Tier 4 – Very Challenging
    • Location G – Simcoe Street Only Site
    • Location H – Canada Life Building Site

Note that other considerations such as pedestrian circulation patterns and volumes affect the overall evaluation and they are not reflected in the list above. There are many more issues addressed by the report, but the following sections give an overview of the options reviewed.

Location B: Campbell House

This option shifts the main entrance building to the northwest corner of the intersection on the Campbell House lands. The house itself would have to close and possibly be relocated during the extended construction period. Even after it reopened, it would be immediately behind the entrance and would lose its view from Queen as a house sitting in grounds.

The Osgoode Hall lands would still be required during construction for a link down to the Ontario Line station, but the residual structure would be much smaller and entirely within the existing sidewalk. This does nothing for the trees because a similar area is needed as in Location “A”. It is not clear what facilities would be in the area under the garden after construction is completed.

The laydown area on the west lawn might, according to the report, be replaced with use of southbound lanes on University Avenue as shown below, although the capacity of this space might be less than required.

In this scheme, the primary vertical link would be west rather than east of the intersection.

This really does little to address the overall design problem, enlarges the area subject to construction disruption, and permanently impacts the Campbell House site.

Location C: University Avenue East Boulevard

In this scheme, the entrance building within the garden is replaced by two entrance structures within the east sidewalk. As with the Campbell House option above, a large keyhole area is required for construction even though the garden could be restored afterward. Parsons notes that the Metrolinx plans do not give enough information about the structure under the garden to determine the available headroom for root systems and hence whether trees could be re-established here after construction.

The plans do not show how accessibility would be provided in the split entrance, nor where the vertical circulation from the street to the Ontario Line platform is located. The entrances appear to occupy a considerable portion of the sidewalk.

Location D: University Avenue Median

In this scheme, the main entrance would be in the median of University Avenue where the pool and the South African War Memorial are now. This scheme would require all riders using this entrance to cross traffic to reach the station. Moreover, any surge load coming from the station would have limited area to gather on the median while they awaited a clear traffic signal.

The construction keyhole and laydown areas remain on Osgoode Hall lands. This option does not address the problem of avoiding the site.

Location E: Four Seasons Centre

In common with location “B”, Campbell House, the Four Seasons option uses an exit within the sidewalk on the northeast corner. One of the proposed southeast exits already exists, but is walled off behind a ventilation grate. It was retained after the link to the Four Seasons Centre was built. These exits add capacity to the southeast corner of the station to offset the smaller northeast entrance, but otherwise do not shift the keyhole nor the laydown area off of the Osgoode Hall lands.

It is not clear how this scheme would provide accessible paths from the street to platform level.

Location F: Bank of Canada Building

In this scheme, the main entrance and construction access would be through the existing Bank of Canada site on the southwest corner. A smaller entrance would be retained on the northeast corner as in options “B” and “E” above.

Construction would stay off of the Osgoode Hall lands.

The major challenge here is that there are plans to redevelop this site as a 54-storey condo and the timing of construction would have to be co-ordinated with the Ontario Line. There would be physical limits depending on how much of the existing façade was to be retained in the new building.

Two separate entrances to the same station one short block apart is not an ideal configuration especially if they do not connect to the same station platform (the Bank of Canada entrance to the upper, Line 1 concourse and the Simcoe entrance to the lower, Ontario Line platform).

Location G: Simcoe Street Only

This configuration shares the same northeast street entrance with previous options, and makes the Simcoe Street entrance the only major new connection to the station. This is not ideal with the entrance a block west of the station and a connecting passageway under the south sidewalk of Queen Street linking to the existing entrance passage.

There could also be accessibility issues with the lack of redundancy planned in escalators and the elevator for the Simcoe entrance.

From a construction point of view, nothing is shown for laydown space on the streets, and a good chunk would have to be taken somewhere to provide this. The Osgoode Hall lawn remains a possibility, but this would involve trucking material a considerable distance from the laydown area to the main shaft down to the new station.

Location H: Canada Life Building

No drawing is provided for this proposal.

The scheme would repurpose the existing Starbucks on the northwest corner of Queen and Simcoe as the headhouse for the station. A basic problem with this scheme is that it does not address the need for a keyhole and laydown area to build the vertical access down to the station. Given the location, this would have to be in Simcoe Street.

With a planned entrance immediately to the south through the former Bank of Commerce building, it does not make sense to have a second entrance right across the street.

Location I: T.O. Core Site

This option assumes the reconfiguration of University Avenue to swap the northbound traffic and median areas to create pedestrian space on the east side. This is a smaller scale version of the Osgoode Plaza scheme (location “J” below). Although it would allow the north keyhole to be shifted westward, it does not eliminate the incursion into the park. The degree to which the treed area could be restored would depend on the headroom above the new structure below grade after construction.

There is a concern that shifting the keyhole westward would create problems for the existing Line 1 station box that would require structural support with a large open pit close by.

Parsons raises the question of the strength of the City’s support for the street realignment proposal.

This option aligns with the city’s emerging vision for the future of University Avenue; however, this vision is in the early stages of development and does not have standing as a clear direction from the city.

Source: Parsons report at p. 15

Location J: Osgoode Plaza

The Osgoode Plaza scheme would shift the laydown area into the northbound lanes of University Avenue which would eventually become open space for pedestrians.

University Avenue would be modified by shifting the northbound lanes into the area now occupied by the wide, but underused, median. Eventually, the widened pedestrian area would extend from at least Richmond Street on the south up to the north limit of the Osgoode Hall grounds or beyond. In effect, the northbound lanes and the median, which are comparable in width, would swap positions to consolidate pedestrian space on the east side of the street.

This design shares some of the structural issues with Location “I” above because the access keyhole would be close to the existing subway structure.

It is odd that Parsons speaks of this in stronger terms for the Osgoode Plaza site than the smaller T.O. Core site.

The keyhole excavation site for this option would be located very close to the existing Line 1 Osgoode Station/tunnel structure, which will introduce substantial construction risk to the project. There would likely be a significant delay to the station schedule, if not that of the entire line; due to the work involved with planning and construction a major piece of civic infrastructure.

Source: Parsons report at p. 17

20 thoughts on “Osgoode Station Entrance Review

  1. This was the first I heard about the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) extraction at or around Osgoode Station. Will it be reinserted further east (Moss Park)? Will there be other TBM’s or will they use the same one for the entire length of the Ontario Line?

    How far will the tunnel mining operation go for? Was this mentioned at any public meetings before? Are there diagrams that mentioned anything about this, or was it in some footnote at the back of some document?

    Steve: This has never been mentioned before. The eastern tunnel will be bored from Corktown north and west to Victoria Street, I assume. This is the first I had seen of this idea, and I hope that Parsons hasn’t cocked up info they got from Metrolinx. If I find out differently, I will amend the article.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So if I’m reading correctly the major contributing factor in the use of the Osgoode Hall site is primarily the keyhole and space for tunnel boring maching extraction, and for secondary reasons the laydown area.

    Looking at all the options objectively it seems like Location F (the Bank of Canada building site) would be a great place to build a station, with keyhole and laydown area…if not for the building already there. If that can be resolved, it seems like we could get an entrance like the northeast corner of Yonge and Queen, built into the base of a building. Isn’t that something plenty of people have been encouraging Metrolinx to do?

    Steve: For comparison, note that the entrance at Yonge and Queen has two escalators and one elevator. For redundancy, especially considering the depth of the OL, the design for the primary entrance will be three escalators and two elevators. Adjust your mental image of the space required accordingly.

    While there is some redundancy in having two station entrances so close to each other on the south side of Queen, if it were possible to consolidate the entrances to the Bank of Canada site I’m sure a developer would be interested in the site west of Simcoe.

    Steve: The property adjacent to the old bank at Queen and Simcoe has already been developed. This is clearly shown in the illustration of the proposed entrance.

    The median proposal (Location D) seems reasonable as well. I wonder why the keyhole could not be located in a widened median construction area with University Avenue limited to one or two lanes each way? Is there not enough room at all or is the concern that construction traffic and congestion will simply be too high?

    Steve: The keyhole cannot be here because this is directly above the subway structure and would have to pass through it to reach the Ontario Line. I see that you have acknowledged this in a later comment.

    I can see the need to cross University to get to the westbound Queen Streetcar would be an issue, the median construction would not be hugely disruptive to buildings, and the fountains and war memorial could be removed and relocated or returned after construction.

    Steve: FYI the Osgoode Plaza scheme includes moving the War Memorial into the new park so that the median can be occupied by the relocated northbound traffic lanes.

    Could some of the potential crowding on the median and some of the second entrance concerns perhaps be mitigated by a north entrance at Armory Street?

    Steve: No. People want to get to Queen Street, and an exit to Armoury would take them a long way north, well north of the existing Osgoode Station box.


  3. I haven’t been following this really… I live in the 905, but I am just gobsmacked that the Osgoode Hall, tree , park and fence destruction is the proposal. It seems like civic vandalism. Once lost, never restored. Another example of Toronto becoming mediocre.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Realized after posting that the Line 1 subway would probably get in the way of having a a keyhole in the median for extracting the tunnel boring machines.

    If not for that, perhaps it might be possible to excavate around the subway tunnel and station box without affecting the subway itself.

    Steve: If you’re going to dig a really big hole, it should be used for something, not just for TBM extraction. What you propose would require closing half of University Avenue for an extended period, and even then might be tricky to fit around existing utilities.

    Which leads to the question of why TBM extraction at Osgoode has been proposed. One would think people would want a TBM portal to be as far away from the centre of downtown Toronto as it could possibly be.

    Steve: I am not entirely sure. Originally I thought that there would be one set of bores continuous from Corktown to Exhibition, but the comment by Parsons implies that there will be an eastbound bore as well. If this is so, it’s hard to understand why the deep excavations at Queen Station would not be used to remove the TBMs much as those on Eglinton were removed on either side of Yonge Street.

    I believe that there is a crossover on the OL east of Osgoode Station, and that section of the tunnel would be mined out to provide space for the tracks. What came as a surprise was the idea of mining east from Osgoode without TBMs, presumably to Albert Street, the west end of the OL station at Yonge.


  5. Thank you Steve for posting this and providing comment. I was downtown Saturday in the freezing cold and saw all the construction workers there and the protest signs all along the fence.

    My reaction was split that a) this is a horrible turn of events for this lovely park yet, b) it is probably inevitably the only way to get the job done.

    Now I read your article and hear the injunction is active and I think my goodness but the City of Toronto, the province of Ontario and Metrolinx cannot get their act together. It really seemed on the weekend that the crew I saw was very close to laying waste to many beautiful trees.

    And to think according to this article there are half a dozen other options and some seem quite viable? I mean save the trees and park at Osgoode and do what has to be done at one of the other locations, including if need be, at Campbell House – it is the lesser of two evils. We need to preserve every inch of green space so my vote is to put the entrances in the existing building or sidewalk areas at SE or SW corners.

    Thanks for your insights.

    PS – Please email me I have a couple small tips about your website.

    Steve: If you have some tips, you can leave them here in a comment flagged as “not for publication”.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Years ago, when there was some rumbling about destroying the Osgoode Hall fence, my father said that the hall was occupied by one of the most powerful unions in the province.


  7. The building on the South West Corner which houses a Rexall has NO redeeming qualities .. basically concrete .. Zero Character. Why on earth does Metrolinx not consider this space?? Why are they allowed to destroy 2 Historical Buildings? Why is the City allowing this???

    Campbell House was moved to this spot in the 1980’s by the Law Society …LEAVE IT ALONE!!!

    Same mindset that wanted Old City Hall demolished…the Home of the Dr on Jarvis St. who stopped the spread of Smallpox destroyed by fire, arson, to make way for yet another Characterless Condo. as well as so many other beautiful buildings..this Generation is ruining the city..

    Demolishing the building on the South West Corner is the Answer. It would NOT be missed!!! It is an EYESORE compared to the magnificent Osgoode and Campbell.

    Steve: The Bank of Canada building is the site of a proposed 50+ storey condo. Expropriating it would be rather expensive.

    The Campbell House move was in 1972.


  8. To borrow a phrase Steve often uses when describing Metrolinx’s actions, this feels like yet another example of them scoring own goals.

    When the construction impacts on the Osgoode Hall site were first announced, the big question directed towards Metrolinx was why hadn’t the east lanes of University Avenue been considered especially since the city was considering removing them anyway.

    While not conclusive, Parsons, not Metrolinx, has given us an answer. It was too close to the existing Line 1 station and tunnels.

    Building transit always involves compromises, we just deserve to know what these compromises are. It is sad to see the impacts on the Osgoode Hall grounds, but damaging Line 1, or getting a permanently inferior station design, would be worse.

    I hope one day when we have new political leadership, transparency can be made part of Metrolinx’s mandate. This could save a lot of aggravation on all sides.


  9. Thanks for all of this Steve, and it does seem that the current fracas is only a part of the fundarmental flaws of what is proposed/ramming through by the Ford regime. I’m with many others in wanting transit investment, and there’s been a long and strong need for an east-west subway through the core but the consult processes have been ‘any type of subway as long as it’s here’, and at about a billion a kilometer (thus far), we can spend some more time to get it better, such as ‘Why can’t it run in a straight line under either Adelaide or King?’ the latter being what the TTC was suggesting c. 2006. (And hmm, dare we think of having elevated trackwork? Ask folks on Eglinton is that might be a preferrable option, and if Adelaide, maybe it would be alright, though if any line were to go further west to Parkdale and beyond, as per most other plans vs. helping develop the Ex, there’s real issue with having a long approach and descent to go below grade.

    Part of the big set of problems of the OL seems to be from its great depth, which is due to the zig and zag through the core and so those curves have to be done under existing building foundations in to, perhaps well into, the bedrock below lake level. But a straightline within a street shouldn’t be encumbered at all with any building footings, though it’s amazing how much service and utility is crammed below.

    It would seem that a reasonable compromise is to have a straight transit line, (at least in the denser core) and the real injunction should be against the OL itself, and the Ford government, with a blind-eye assist by the federal level, who have been excellent at ignoring how torqued the transit scheming has become and ignoring the City becoming flattened by the bullDougzer.

    And the larger issue of having Metrolinx removed from reporting to Cabinet only, and not the broader public of the Legislature, means we have a large and resourced body fairly unchecked.

    Deep tunnels mean far more dirt and concrete to be used, of greater boon to the construction interests than the public; and the TTC/City/taxpayers get the costs of the deeper shaft, not just years of construction and disruption.

    The ‘carservative’ tilt of the province also seems evident not just in burying parts of suburban subways so good folks in cars aren’t delayed, but are we really sure that the University Ave. itself isn’t a good site for this extraction of a massive machine? And does it come apart or will road beds be destroyed with its moving?

    And I’m very much in favour of having a good subway through the core; but what is being done is maybe more damaging than any help, and not only to the trees and heritage of Osgoode Hall but the broader core itself. And are the computers going away? Will work from home disappear? Has the demand for transit to the core really come back, and will it? What about surface Relief via parts of the Don Valley on a Plan B or F or T triage basis? Would more Relief come from improving the Richmond Hill GO line? What about a Front St. transitway as per the 1985/92 ideas? What about ensuring we really connect the GO line to Eglinton seamlessly up near the Celestica lands at Don Mills and Eglinton, or are we happily going to build options shut, as per standard?

    And where are opposition parties, although the scale of change is immense?


  10. When Line 5 western leg tunnels was being bored, the western TBM’s (Humber & Dennis) had to be extracted just west of Cedarvale Station. They were then reinserted east of Cedarvale Station. They then continued boring until just west of Eglinton Station. The eastern leg tunnels were bored by Lea & Don going west until just east of Eglinton. Cedarvale & Eglinton Stations and tunnels had to be dug using cut-and-cover.

    For the Ontario Line, it looks like any intersecting station will have to get the TBM’s extracted on one side the the intersecting station, and reinserted on the other side. They will likely be mining the tunnels east of the Osgoode Station, but go cut-and-cover for the Queen Station. Mining the tunnels will have to be continued until the reinsertion point, somewhere east of the Queen Station.

    That asks the question, will the TBM’s have to be extracted before the Pape Station at Line 2, and then reinserted after? The Science Centre Station will not face that dilemma, since the Ontario Line will be in an overhead guideway at that point.

    How many TBM’s will they need in total? How many will likely be reused?

    Steve: Your analysis mises two points. First, there is a “keyhole” large enough for TBM extraction only on the east side of the University subway. Second, unlike construction on Eglinton, the Ontario Line will be in bedrock well below the existing structure. Therefore the TBM’s could go under the subway. I await confirmation of the tunneling plans from Metrolinx.


  11. This was the first I heard about…

    That combination of words comes up a lot in conversations about Metrolinx and their plans.

    This is the first I had seen of this idea, and I hope that Parsons hasn’t cocked up info they got from Metrolinx

    Given the historical record, isn’t it far more likely Metrolinx intended to do this all along and just never got around to verbalizing it around anyone outside of their organization? We already have several examples of Metrolinx dropping bombs during the 11th hour on this project alone. (E.G. the massive to-be rebuilt elevated berm in Riverside)

    Liked by 2 people

  12. The intersection of Queen and University is going to be torn up 20x over during this construction. The island and statute in the middle of University will have to be moved. Ask anybody that has lived near Yonge/ Eglinton or Eglinton/Allen.

    People are dreaming if they think the havoc of construction will be contained to within the park at Osgoode Hall.

    After 10-plus years of construction, endless traffic closures and delays … we’ll ask ‘why didn’t we just move Campbell house?’, and ‘we didn’t we just buy the land at the SW corner from the developer?’, or ‘why didn’t we extend the Path System when digging?’.


  13. The Law Society’s factum is available online.

    Steve: Browsing through this, it is clear that Metrolinx had vastly more detailed plans available two years ago that they did not share with the general public, and which were presented as part of group-based consultations under the cover of “confidential” information. The wider discussion of this issue (and similar problems at other sites) would have been greatly helped if these designs were widely available so that everyone would know how things had progressed and the issues still outstanding. As usual, Metrolinx is its own worst enemy.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Yes, Star has good info on heritage values/report, and a column on Metrolinx . malgovernance. And on Twitter thanks again Steve, including thoughts of moving Campbell House again to the Osgoode Hall site, thereby freeing up the NW corner, for a station and maybe a 40 floor nonprofit housing with all the moolah saved.
    But going so deep means an excess of time, trouble, disturbance and cost, and so revisiting alignments and costing out the detour to Portlands area is overdue as maybe we could spend $2 or $4 billion better?
    Again, it seems a straight under-road line to go far further west to Parkdale plus is far more useful to the public interest as it won’t need to be nearly so deep, and we especially need better transit to beyond the pinch point at the base of High Park. We cannot consider a car-reduced inner core or congestion charge unless we have much better transit, but the ‘carservatives’ in charge of things almost are happily building an inferior albatross to assist some developers or develop a few sites instead of public transit, and it’s not their billions. So, many are chicken to criticize a transit scheme because we do need more transit, but we should be trying hard for good value. This includes pressure on the federal level as why are they $upporting a clearly partisan approach/agency that cuts out elected MPPs from an info-loop?


  15. How much does the new Provincial Court House weigh upon the ‘must be at Queen” decision? This centralization was a mistake by the Wynne government and it has had some resistance from within legal circles, and despite it being a costly new building, this too should be revisited ie. keep justice processes a lot more decentralized as they are now, and don’t transfer court functions here.


  16. The injunction was not renewed, the trees are toast (or kindling). Sad!

    Steve: With recent events, we can understand why John Tory has not gone to the wall on this issue. The whole city relationship with Metrolinx including Ontario Line issues and SmartTrack will depend on Council dynamics and, eventually, a new Mayor.


  17. I find it laughable how Metrolinx is touting their multi-year, robust consultation process for justifying why they have the authority to dig up the trees right away. Yes, after imposing the Ontario line on the city with no consultation, tinkering with other lines with no consultation, running sham consultations on projects, running the bulk of the consultations during a pandemic when no one was riding transit and people were too distracted to follow transit topics, Metrolinx obviously has never cared about community feedback, and the community has given up on Metrolinx’s “consultations” long ago.

    It’s not even clear why Metrolinx even bothered with making such extensive designs for the Ontario Line when the whole point of PPP contracts is to give the contractors complete freedom with design changes so that the contractor can redesign things as they see fit to reduce costs. The only time I’ve ever heard Metrolinx make an adjustment to their transit projects is when they inexplicably added an S-curve to the Yonge North line, thereby wasting millions of hours of time for transit riders due to slower train speeds, so as to reduce potential subway noise for some obviously politically connected suburban house owners.

    Steve: One clarification about the S-curve at Langstaff: the original route of the subway was to go straight up Yonge Street, and it was not until it was shifted east to serve a massive redevelopment that the “suburban house owners” you refer to were affected. That change was dropped on them just like so many others Metrolinx cooked up in the name of supporting development and making lots of money for friends of the government.


  18. If the contractors need to extract the TBM machines when crossing other subway lines, it’s a sign that Metrolinx hired some subpar contractors. I’m pretty sure both London and San Francisco were able to tunnel underneath (and even in between) other subway tunnels with their TBM machines. You just need to hire contractors with sufficient engineering talent.

    Steve: Yes, given that the Ontario Line is to be tunneled in bedrock, the need to extract TBMs is rather odd. Also, they would do it on only one side of the station when in theory they need another keyhole to put the TBM back into the ground. My sense is that Metrolinx either does not know what it is doing, or that they are putting out a half baked story that sounds just reasonable enough. I have asked them about his, and in best Metrolinx tradition, they have not answered.


  19. One of the key deliverables of the Ontario Line was supposed to be interconnections. The interchange at Osgood going to be worse than the interchange at Spadina. Ugh.


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