Ontario Line Information Sessions
Over the past number of months, our city’s transit planning has been plunged into chaos by the Provincial government, which announced a planned upload of the city’s subway system and a new transit expansion with the Ontario Line, instead of the Relief Line. Earlier this fall, City Council supported the plan put forward by the province and City staff to move forward with the Ontario Line instead of the Relief Line, while simultaneously cancelling plans to upload to the TTC to the province.
While some aspects of the new line remain the same as the Relief Line, there are changes and additions to the Ontario Line within our Ward 10 communities, including: changes to the previously planned Relief Line stops between the Don River and Yonge Street; the intention for underground stops at Queen and Bathurst and King and Bathurst; and above ground sections in two areas in Ward 10 (east of the Don River in Ward 14 continuing to west of the Don River, and from somewhere west of Bathurst and near Front Street to Exhibition Place/Ontario Place - the exact location is unclear and yet to be determined).
There are some positive components of the plan: new transit for our rapidly growing neighbourhoods, inter-governmental commitment of funding for relief for Line 1 (including the expansion north of the Danforth), and the cancellation of the upload. However, I remain concerned with the details and with the many unanswered questions that remain, including final routes and alignments, technology, fare integration, future operations and funding, community consultation, above-ground sections, and more. To respond to these concerns, a number of things have been added for consideration during next steps with Metrolinx, the Provincial transit agency responsible for the planning and construction of any new Ontario Line. These include: mitigating potential local impacts and reviewing potential impacts of the above-ground sections (including constructability), ensuring full and affordable fare integration between all lines and technologies - especially critical for our Liberty Village and Fort York communities, prioritizing affordable housing as part of any transit-oriented residential development, and more. Read more on my website here.
Metrolinx has announced they will be holding four information sessions on the proposed Ontario Line. If you're able, it will be critical for members of our community to attend and learn more at these meetings:
Each session will run from 6:30-8:30pm:
Thursday, January 23rd
Ontario Science Centre, Telus Room, 770 Don Mills Road
Monday, January 27th
Ryerson University, Tecumseh Auditorium, 55 Gould Street
Tuesday, January 28th
Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto, Social Hall, 15 Simpson Avenue
Wednesday, January 29th
Exhibition Place, Beanfield Centre, Room 201 ABC, 105 Princes’ Boulevard
New: More Provincial Changes Expected
City of Toronto staff have submitted a new report to City Council with an update on the status of discussions with the Province about how the Ontario Line and other transit projects will be planned and built in our city. This new information is extremely concerning.
The Province has indicated that new legislation will be introduced at Queens Park this winter that they claim will speed up the construction of transit projects. There are few details at this time, but City staff understand that the legislation may affect how much study and consultation is required prior to final approval, how private land is expropriated by the Province to build the transit projects, how underground utilities are physically relocated, and what the Province can do in terms of construction in the City's public roadways. There is a risk that these changes could reduce the quality of planning and public oversight of decision-making on the Ontario Line, and limit how much protection affected communities have from construction and operation decisions by the Province.
In addition, the Province is pursuing "Transit-Oriented Development" (TOD) at new rapid transit stations, including along the Ontario Line, with the goal of using private development to offset some of the cost to the Province. In principle, adding more homes and jobs near rapid transit is a good idea because it means fewer people using cars that contribute to climate change. But as is the case with all new development, getting the planning details right in collaboration with the local community is extremely important, along with ensuring that new development is matched by adequate investments in infrastructure – including water, sewer, electricity, schools, community centres, libraries, and parks. Considering the way that the Province recently unilaterally removed the policies protecting good planning and adequate infrastructure from our new Downtown Plan, we must remain alert and prepared to take action as more details emerge in 2020.