CBC on ECWE

The CBC has a good piece on the arguments around the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension that will run through the Eglinton Flats:

Tunnelling for the extension started in early April and later that month, Metrolinx invited shortlisted builders to submit proposals to design and construct the elevated section. But Brissenden’s group and the Mount Dennis Community Association are calling on the agency to change course before it’s too late. And they’re not alone: the City of Toronto asked the provincial transit agency at least twice in recent months to consider bringing the elevated section underground.

But Metrolinx says the current design is the most cost-effective option, and can bring the most number of riders onboard without the risks that come with tunneling underneath the Humber River.

Though the piece is balanced, it doesn’t mention the third possiblility: that the line could be neither buried nor destructive—and could instead run down the middle of Eglinton, as first planned.

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.

MDCA says Metrolinx should redo planning for Eglinton flats

Metrolinx must rethink its plans for elevated tracks through the Eglinton Flats, according to the Mount Dennis Community Association.

The MDCA says “a huge amount of parkland will be lost including parts of Pearen Park both temporarily and permanently.” They also say that the renderings of the tracks are inaccurate.

In their email circular, the MDCA said:

MDCA was told by Metrolinx that the elevated guideway would be similar to the picture [above], similar to the already built section at Black Creek Drive.   Recent information reveals that the elevated solution requires a far wider right of way, and it will be located at the bottom of the treed slope, not at the top.  Furthermore, the elevated section will be far wider due to station platforms and a third track to permit trains to turn around near Jane Street. 

An online group called Stop the Trains in Our Parks (STOP) has built a website to marshal support and show the reality of the trains. They say “if it was worth the money to go underground in Etobicoke, it’s worth the money in Mt. Dennis.”

Nunziata calls for Metrolinx to bury the Eglinton Crosstown extension

Frances Nunziata asked City Council this week to “request Metrolinx undertake an assessment of running the elevated segment of the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension underground and to identify any options that may exist to accommodate this change.”

Her motion says

The elevated segment of the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension will result in significant impacts to the local environment including parklands and trees along Eglinton Avenue West. The loss of parklands, including the treasured Eglinton Flats and forests, outlined by Metrolinx at recent community consultation sessions, is a significant concern to residents and visitors from across the City.

Metrolinx is planning to build an elevated track through the Eglinton Flats parkland to extend the LRT out to Renforth. Only the section in the Eglinton Flats will be elevated. Metrolinx has said in the past that burying the line through the valley would be difficult and expensive.

Nunziata’s motion passed.