METROLINX VS REALITY
The Eglinton Crosstown West Extension (ECWE) extends the Eglinton Crosstown (line 5) from Mt. Dennis Station to Renforth Station.
Metrolinx is proposing to build a 1.5 km long elevated guideway for the ECWE from Pearen Park, through Fergy Brown Park and the Eglinton Flats, over the Humber River and Scarlett Road before returning underground for the Scarlett to Renforth section.
Metrolinx has yet to provide to-scale drawings, full details on the massive launch shaft holes, the size and scale of the train expressway and the clear-cutting of the urban forest.
Metrolinx’s slick renderings are designed to make you believe the train expressway is small scale and would be right beside Eglinton Avenue West. This rendering distorts the impact in our parkland and shows mature trees, which Metrolinx has stated would need to be removed to accommodate construction.
The reality is that Metrolinx has admitted that the train expressway would need to be at least 30 meters into the parkland and that they would need to clear cut the mature forest to accommodate the trains and construction. This mature forest not only provides habitat for a wealth of biodiversity, but also provides a buffer between Eglinton Avenue West and the sports/recreational areas, creating a peaceful oasis in the middle of the city. In addition, Metrolinx plans to use a large part of Pearen Park as a construction staging area for years and most, if not all, of the trees will be removed in the proposed staging area. Rendering created by Stop the Trains in Our Parks.
Metrolinx’s rendering of a massive launch shaft, which is what it might look like between Pearen Park and Fergy Brown Park. The rendering tries to make it look “pretty,” but the massive size and impact of the portal is obvious.
This photo shows the launch shaft hole at Renforth Drive that is 80 meters long by 20 meters wide (taken from the Metrolinx January 26, 2022 presentation). We don’t want this in Fergy Brown Park and just west of Scarlett Road.
Metrolinx’s rendering shows what the LRT train expressway might look like. The reality is that the expressway will have a massive presence in the parkland, mature trees around it will be gone, and park users will feel and hear it.
This photo shows the portal at Black Creek Drive with an LRT train heading towards Mt. Dennis Station. This huge concrete structure looks terrible and has a mess of overhead wiring. We don't want something like this in our parks.
Another rendering meant to make the train expressway acceptable to the community by understating the impact on our parkland.
Left image is of LRT construction in Montreal - the LRT train expressway in our parks could look something like this. Right photo is graffiti under the bridge by the Humber River. We could expect similar graffiti and tagging under the LRT train expressway if it is built in our parkland.
The elevated expressway proposal would mean there would be massive overhead stations over Jane Street and Scarlett Road. Metrolinx's rendering doesn't show how far the stations would encroach into the parkland.
This is an example of the scale of what the overhead stations at Jane Street and Scarlett Road might look like. The photo is from Seattle.
Why underground works
1. It can be done
Metrolinx has long cited the the flood plains centred on Jane Street and Eglinton Avenue West as the main obstacle for going underground. But we know that underground can - and has - been done. In fact, the lead engineering company for the ECWE, ARUP Engineering, was awarded the Canadian Project of the Year Award for 2014 from the Tunnelling Association of Canada for the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport Pedestrian Tunnel which is 40 metres under Lake Ontario. Cities like New York and London have built extensive transit under rivers. Other stations along Eglinton Avenue are being built at extensive depths, like Avenue Road at 32 metres and Oakwood Avenue at 25 metres. Metrolinx even included a fully underground option in its Initial Business Case.
2. Least operational risk
On page 84 of Metrolinx's Initial Business Case it states that a fully underground LRT presents very low operational challenges compared to above ground and has the best severe weather protection. In the long run, with less service disruptions the fully underground option is the best choice for reliability, safety and lower ongoing maintenance costs. An elevated train expressway will be worse in terms of operational challenges, ongoing maintenance cost and has the least severe weather protection.
3. Flood plains do better with
Allowing Metrolinx to clear cut trees and destroy the wetland marsh and mature forest that has evolved in Fergy Brown Park and the Eglinton Flats will turn back the clock and could increase flood risks in the area. While cities around the world are implementing projects to re-naturalize areas damaged by development, we could see Metrolinx destroy an established naturalized area that took decades to develop. Damage to the land along the construction corridor of the LRT train expressway will take decades to recover in order for trees and vegetation to grow and flourish. There will never again be a lush mature naturalized area that we have today and our wildlife, including endangered species, will lose their habitat.
4. There is a better way
We believe putting the LRT underground won't cost much more than an elevated LRT train expressway. And if it was worth the money to go underground in Etobicoke, it's worth the money in Mt. Dennis.
Metrolinx's Initial Business Case outlined 4 possible options. The current proposal to put an LRT train expressway through our parks was option 4 and includes 6 stations from Mt. Dennis to Renforth. Total capital costs for option 4 are projected to be $4.665 billion.
In our analysis, based on Metrolinx's Initial Business Case, a fully underground option with 6 stations wouldn't cost substantially more. In the Initial Business Case, the fully underground option had 9 stations and was projected to cost $5.896 billion. We know that the costs would be substantially reduced when you account for three fewer stations.
Further, Metrolinx admitted in the Initial Business Case that the fully underground option would have substantially lower ongoing maintenance and operating costs, and would provide the best severe weather protection.
Burying the LRT could cost less money in the long run and York South-Weston would get to keep our parks.