Opposition building to LRT in Eglinton Flats

Opposition to Metrolinx’ plan to build an elevated rail line through Eglinton Flats is growing. A local group, Stop the Trains in Our Parks, has called on newly-elected MPP Michael Ford to “Get It Done” and tunnel the trains through the Flats.

In a press release, STOP said,

While campaigning as a candidate in YSW earlier this month, Progressive Conservative Michael Ford wrote to local residents stating that as MPP and part of a Doug Ford government he would be in the best position to advocate for the community’s priorities on the Eglinton Crosstown West LRT issue. In a June 13 tweet, thanking Etobicoke North, Michael Ford cited one of his accomplishments in his riding as  “Championing new transit connections for our community. Tunnelling Eglinton West in the south”.

Now that Michael Ford is the current York South-Weston MPP, will he work with his new constituents and Get It Done?

Metrolinx is planning to build an elevated LRT through the parks at Eglinton Flats because, they say, it isn’t feasible to tunnel through the valley. The LRT will

  • Be in the park (not on the roadway),
  • Lead to deforestation
  • Close bike, car, and pedestrian routes for 8 years
  • Have large tunnel entrances.

Transit blogger and guru Steve Munro has an excoriating history of the ECWE in Eglinton Flats. He supports STOP’s argument:

The structure is presented as unobtrusively as possible, and the effects of construction are ignored. As at other locations on Metrolinx projects, the effect on green space is treated as an unavoidable side-effect of transit expansion.

He also has some devastating images. Metrolinx said in 2012 that the train would (and presumably could) run down the centre of Eglinton instead of in the park. The images also give some sense of the scale of the construction.

Munro also criticizes the late response of City Council, saying: “this is an example of Council sitting in blissful ignorance of the damage inherent in Metrolinx plans until the last possible moment when nothing but hand-wringing remains as an option.”

Metrolinx asks for huge path, sidewalk, road closures; Mayor gets mad

City Council will consider whether Metrolinx should be allowed to close a huge amount of the paths and roads around Eglinton Avenue this week. And it sounds like Mayor Tory might not be rushing approval if Metrolinx doesn’t start playing ball with City Hall.

There are two issues: fair wages and putting the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension through the Eglinton Flats in Mount Dennis. City Council would like to know why the line can’t go underground, or beside the road instead of inside the park. It seems like Metrolinx hasn’t been forthcoming with the answers.

According to the Star, Tory blasted Metrolinx:

Tory told his executive committee Wednesday he strongly supports transit expansion, but if Metrolinx officials don’t like being “left with a degree of uncertainty,” as deadlines loom to sign construction contracts, they should “speed up the work” answering questions and concerns from residents and city council…. Metrolinx is “certainly not up to, and accustomed to, the standards we set for public consultation in anything we do, whether it’s transit or not,” the mayor said.

Metrolinx is asking council to close a huge number of routes, including:

  • The multi-use trail on Eglinton between Jane and Glenvalley
  • The multi-use trail on Eglinton between Weston Road and the tracks
  • The westbound curb lane on Eglinton Avenue West east of Jane Street and Weston Road
  • The westbound curb lane on Eglinton Avenue West, between Weston Road and the tracks
  • The north sidewalk on Eglinton Avenue West, between Weston Road and the tracks
  • The north sidewalk on Eglinton Avenue West west of Pearen Street and the park

All of the “temporary” closures will be for eight years.

The Mount Dennis Community Association pointed out another important issue in a letter to the Executive Committee: the proposed closures will interfere with access to the brand-new Mount Dennis Station. They say “there has been a total failure in community consultation about plans for pedestrian access to the station’s main entrance” and that pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders will be affected.

Metrolinx is also facing “adamant and unreserved opposition” from the International Union of Operating Engineers for their refusal to follow Toronto’s Fair Wage Policy.

Metrolinx to make plans clear on guided walk May 9

The Mount Dennis Community Association and Metrolinx will be meeting for a walk through Eglinton Flats, to discuss Metrolinx’s controversial proposal to build an elevated train through the parks.

The meeting will be Monday, May 9 at 6 p.m. and will start where Pearen Park reaches Eglinton Avenue:

Here, I believe.

The MDCA says they believe the LRT will run “entirely WITHIN Fergie Brown Park from the point we wil meet until it is almost at Jane Street.”(Emphasis theirs.) They are also concerned Metrolinx’s images make the tracks seem lower than they will be.

Putting the train through the park would be disruptive to people, but it would also destroy woodlands, the MDCA says. “We expect that most of the woodland area west of Jane… will be clear-cut to accommodate the LRT, likely with serious damage to the wetlands that separate the woods from the playing fields”.


 

What’s up with the UP Express schedule?

Paul Ferreira raised an important question on Twitter this week: When will the UP Express get back to its regular schedule?

Metrolinx reduced service during the worst days of the pandemic as ridership across the system dropped by as much as 90%. It cut the hours the UPX ran and also the frequency of service.

While the hours have since been increased—though not quite to the pre-pandemic 19.5 hours a day—the trains only travel every 30 minutes. That’s the same frequency as in March, 2020.

On Twitter, a spokesperson told Ferreira that they are “constantly keeping an eye on ridership and our trips to ensure we’re accommodating the current and expected demand. As soon as a change happens as far as more service being implemented, we will provide updates in a timely manner.”

Upcoming events

The Mount Dennis Community Association will be hosting a Jane’s Walk this Saturday, May 7 at 2 pm. They

are hoping to explore the next stage of the LRT this year with a walk from the Mount Dennis station west towards Jane Street.  The elevated guideway was nobody’s first choice, and the current plan in our opinion destroys too much of our parks.  The walk starts at 2pm

Upcoming events

Metrolinx will be hosting an open house to discuss their plans for the “elevated stations” at Scarlett and Jane this Wednesday, April 27, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m..

I confess, I didn’t know the Jane Station will be elevated, but Metrolinx says:

An elevated station structure would be wider than the guideway to accommodate the needed passenger space and would also have a larger at-grade footprint to function as station entrances.

Metrolinx will also share the results of their survey about the elevated section of track that will cut through the parks at Eglinton Flats.


The city will be hosting a community meeting for the “Picture Mount Dennis Planning Framework Study” on Thursday, April 28, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m..

The study will shape the development of Mount Dennis for years to come. It is

a comprehensive vision for the future based on the input of current residents, businesses, local services and non-profit organizations and Indigenous partners. It seeks to protect what the community values about their neighborhood in Mount Dennis today, establish the parameters for new growth to fit into this context and capitalize on new investment to benefit the current and future population

VIA Rail stop in Weston?

For years we’ve heard that VIA Rail would love to stop their four daily trains in Weston but that they’re being thwarted by Metrolinx who say that there wouldn’t be enough time for VIA trains to transfer passengers on and off without disrupting UP Express and GO Train schedules. The stop would be an incredible convenience for Weston Residents, would slow the train down as it roars through Weston and would allow eastbound VIA passengers destined for Pearson Airport a short cut instead of having to schlep all the way downtown.

If you go to the VIA Rail site however, they’re still posting Weston’s station address as 39 John Street so maybe an awareness of the new location would indicate a more sincere wish for a Weston stop. Either way, it’s beginning to look highly unlikely that a the devolved passenger arm of a corporate Father of Confederation™ and the mighty execs of Metrolinx will get together to make life easier for actual passengers.

Source: https://www.viarail.ca/en/explore-our-destinations/stations/weston Click to enlarge

Maybe this is a problem that an election promise could solve.

Candidates, what say you?