Toronto's new subway line to be built above ground despite neighbourhood concerns
The provincial government and Metrolinx are continuing to move forward with the controversial Ontario Line subway, including the above-ground portions that have been highly contested by residents of the affected areas.
Torontonians in Thorncliffe and Flemingdon Park as well as Leslieville and Riverside have been speaking out against the plan for the above-ground portions for months, claiming they will have major negative effects on their communities including obstructed views, noise pollution, and the destruction of multiple neighbourhood gems such as the beloved Jimmie Simpson Park and community centre.
Jimmy Gray living near route of Ontario Line speaks to #Bill171 and argues that given size of the project and the long duration of its impact that it only makes sense to direct the subway underground. @TransitEnd pic.twitter.com/brZH4YCDAa— Peter Tabuns (@Peter_Tabuns) June 9, 2020
Multiple town halls were held where residents and city councillors expressed these concerns thoroughly, though it would appear the government and Metrolinx are moving ahead with the original plan nonetheless.
The Ontario government has moved forward with two Requests for Qualifications for the Ontario Line, the signature project in the largest subway expansion in the province’s history. Learn more: https://t.co/JjY7iP0Knt pic.twitter.com/vE11aqpwxt— Ontario Ministry of Transportation (@ONtransport) June 4, 2020
"This Bill allows Metrolinx and their contractors to handle the construction process along our 2km section however they see fit, with zero accountability to (or co-operation with) the community they're building through - your neighbourhood," reads a newsletter from the EastEnd Transit Alliance.
"Bill 171 includes eliminating hearings of necessity – one of the only tools that those of us who will be facing expropriation would have been able to use to get a fair decision."
The bill would also allow early work — including station construction, rail corridor expansion, utility relocation, and bridge replacement — to commence before an environmental assessment is even conducted.
A lot of people in our community are disappointed and angry about how this plan is rolling out. @Metrolinx has a lot to answer for - and yet totally refuses to give us any useful answers or information.— EastEndTransitAlliance (@EastEndTransit) June 17, 2020
"Many members of our community delivered written presentations and spoke out during three days of Zoom public consultations with the Ontario Government about this Bill," wrote EETA.
"Because our community spoke out, several amendments were brought forward that would have given our neighbourhood community benefits, protections, and a meaningful consultation process with Metrolinx."
But the alliance says every single amendment proposed by the community was rejected by the government, and Metrolinx is being given the green light to build through the area without accountability.
"While this setback is disappointing, we will not stop advocating for transit in our neighbourhoods to be safe and properly designed for the people who use it and the communities around it," EETA said. "Our community needs - and deserves - safe transit, done right."
We want to get Toronto moving. We also want transit to be safe and properly designed for the people who use it and the people who live near it. We want safe transit done right. This city, and its citizens, deserve nothing less.— EastEndTransitAlliance (@EastEndTransit) June 17, 2020
As it currently stands, the Ontario Line is set to connect the Ontario Science Centre with Exhibition Place. And though much of the transit line will go underground, there will be above-ground portions in both the Thorncliffe and Flemingdon Park area and the Leslieville/Riverside neighbourhood.
The new line is expected to provide TTC congestion relief and have approximately 15 stops, spanning 16 km.
On June 2, the government issued the first two public-private partnership (P3) Requests for Qualifications (RFQs) to identify and qualify those who will design, build and maintain the subway line.
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