Toronto neighbourhood pushes back against ousting businesses for subway yard
There has been a slew of opposition to various aspects of the plan for the Ontario Line, the $11 billion subway project that will run 15 stops across Toronto, cutting travel time from Exhibition Place to the Science Centre down to just 30 minutes.
Much of the public's concern has been about the portions of the 16 km route that are due to be built above ground — in part to save on time and expenditures — and what businesses, public spaces and even homes may be lost in the process.
It appears that it's not only the tracks and transit stations themselves that could lead to the expropriation of certain properties, but also other associated buildings, like the train yard currently slated for Thorncliffe Park.
You want to dump a 🚂 yard into Thorncliffe Park - one of the most marginalized communities in Toronto @Metrolinx? We lived there for years. Let’s see if this leaves the station. cc @robedits @Rob_Oliphant @JohnTory @ThorncliffeTO #WeAreThorncliffePark.https://t.co/2Vs9woANMZ— Sulemaan Ahmed (@sulemaan) April 29, 2021
Metrolinx plans to take over 175,000 square metres of land along Overlea Boulevard near Don Mills and Eglinton with a service facility that will cut through the East York Hydro Green Space, as well as take the place of some businesses.
Business in an existing plaza on the site will need to find a new home before construction starts next year, including Iqbal Halal Foods, a staple grocery store for the area that has also served as somewhat of a community hub for decades.
Representatives from the transit body have told news outlets and the public that it intends to find suitable relocation solutions for all those impacted at no cost, though it is unclear how plausible it will be to keep them close by in the area.
"The Ontario Line Community Relations team is absolutely committed to relocating Iqbal Foods within the area, and are fully aware how important it is to remain in the community," is one of the responses Metrolinx tweeted to one of many concerned residents asking about the fate of the store.
Our commitment is to relocate these vital businesses, like Iqbal Foods, within the community at no cost to them. We are working with the Mosque and can confirm prayer services will continue at 20 Overlea Blvd. and will not be impacted by construction. 2/ ^fs— Metrolinx (@Metrolinx) April 29, 2021
Locals have launched an online petition to move the train yard elsewhere, which at the time of publication has so far garnered nearly 1,000 signatures in just a few hours.
The change.org page names East York Meals on Wheels, Toronto Hifz Academy, i Care Pharmacy and Medical Center, and others among the establishments that will have to move to make way for the subway maintenance centre.
Also moving is a mosque that is fortunately already in the process of moving to another nearby building anyway.
"The proposed location of this train yard will destroy a community hub and have a devastating impact on the economic and social foundation of this already vulnerable neighbourhood," the petition reads.
"The community needs better access to transit and supports the Ontario Line. However, we cannot accept Metrolinx replacing our community hub with a train yard."
They have asked the LEGENDARY Iqbal Foods to move for this "plan".— Shireen Ahmed (@_shireenahmed_) April 29, 2021
This is awful and unbelievably prejudice against a community hub and place that is home to thousands of BIPOC and newcomers to Canada.
Metrolinx has set up physical storefronts where people can get further information about the Ontario Line and air their grievances, which includes the fact that thousands of people living nearby will have to ask for permission to do construction on their own property if they aren't forced by the government to sell their homes completely.
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