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The Honourable Minister of Transportation, Steven Del Duca, announced Wednesday that Ontario will be investing $150 million in the planning and design stage of the Relief Line to ensure it’s shovel ready.
“Under our Moving Ontario Forward plan, we’re working to ensure the Relief Line is well-designed and best connects people to school, families, and jobs,” he said in a press release. “This is further proof of our government’s commitment to provide accessible, modern transit infrastructure that is reducing commute times and improving the quality of life for Ontarians.”
The funding is part of the province’s commitment of $160 billion over 12 years to aid in infrastructure projects like roads, bridges, transit, schools, and hospitals. More than 325 projects were approved in 2015.
This announcement comes at a time where the City of Toronto, along with the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), Waterfront Toronto and Metrolinx, will be holding public consultations on a number of transit initiatives part of the “motherlode” network. The Relief Line and the Scarborough subway will be the main focus of discussion at two of the meetings being held this week.
The Relief Line is the subway line set to be built in the downtown region of Toronto and is one of Toronto’s top transit priorities according to the TTC. The public consultation will take place on June 2, at Riverdale Collegiate (1094 Gerrard St. E.) and will give city officials an opportunity to update the public on the alignment and station options for the Relief Line. The preferred alignment runs south from Pape and Danforth to the Queen and Richmond corridor. The line would connect with Osgoode and Queen Stations on Line 1 and would intersect with Pape station on Line 2.
The advantages of this corridor option include an interchange near Nathan Phillips Square, a huge hub in Toronto and also fills the transit void northwards between Union and Yonge-Bloor Stations. The route also provides access to Regent Park and Moss Park, improving social equity in these impoverished areas. By turning the route northwards prior to the crossing at the Don Valley Parkway, it lowers the costs of soil stabilization needed for the river crossing, but shortens the commute for transit users east of the Don Valley. The relief line is set to cost approximately $3.2 billion.
The proposed stations include an interchange with Pape Station and Osgoode and Queen. New stations will be located at Queen and Sherbourne, King and Sumach, Queen and Pape and other stations that would intersect with the SmartTrack plan at Eastern, Broadview, Gerrard and Pape. A report with the alignment options is set to be reviewed by Toronto Mayor John Tory’s executive committee on June 28 after the public consultations conclude.
The relief line was mentioned at the Scarborough subway consultation that occurred on May 31 at the Scarborough Civic Centre (150 Borough Drive). Scarborough transit planning was the main focus of the Tuesday meeting, but the Relief Line and other transit projects were mentioned as well.
The consultation discussed the one-stop Scarborough subway that is set to cost $2 billion and will connect the Scarborough Town Centre to Kennedy Station. The recommended alignment for the subway is to tunnel east from Kennedy Station along Eglinton Ave., and then deviate north on Danforth Rd. to McCowan Rd.,ending at Ellesmere Rd. with a new station in the parking lot near Scarborough Town Centre.
The plan is coming under fire by local Scarborough residents because the discussed alignment runs right through 11 detached homes and a gas station just west of McCowan Rd. before Ellesmere Rd. Recently, the TTC sent letters to the residents of the homes warning that they may be expropriated from their houses for the construction, which incited controversy. This will most likely be a recurring topic of discussion over the next few months.
The one-stop subway is also being questioned because estimated ridership is much lower than originally predicted, only serving about 7,300 people at its peak hour. That’s a hefty price tag for such a low outcome. With a 17-stop LRT being planned in Scarborough, the need for the expensive subway that is difficult to construct begs questioning. The Scarborough subway has always been debatable, but now even local residents are starting to resent the project that may threaten their homes.
At each meeting representatives from the TTC, Metrolinx, and the City of Toronto will make short presentations on the Relief Line and Scarborough subway plans. Public consultations provide an open forum for discussion regarding the multitude of transit plans included in the 15-year “motherlode”. Make sure to get out and participate in the building of our city.
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