Right-of-Way still divides community

Transit of the future or traffic nightmare?

Hard to say right now what kind of legacy the St. Clair Streetcar Right-of-Way project will leave in Toronto’s west end.

But one thing’s for certain: its creation precipitated one hell of a street fight.

For this, Town Crier has named the St. Clair streetcar right-of-way as Forest Hill’s newsmaker of the decade.

Many St. Clair businesses and residents were opposed to the idea of dedicated TTC lanes from Yonge Street to Gunns Loop when it was first presented to the community back in the first half of the decade.

Though touted by the city as a necessary mode of transportation to meet increasing demand and encourage public transit use, many voiced concern about the impact construction would have on retail business and traffic, both during and after construction.

Legal battles ensued as a small but vocal residents group took the city to court in a failed bid to thwart the project. Construction delays followed.

The row about the right-of-way became fodder for politicos during the 2006 municipal election, with candidates for and opposed duking it out in their respective campaigns.

Since construction began in 2005, several St. Clair retailers have reported a decline in business. Disgruntled merchants say sorry road conditions due to track reconstruction have driven away customers. In the summer, a local lawyer suggested the retail community sue the city for compensation.

There is optimism despite the mess. In December, the city celebrated the operation of the streetcar line from Bathurst Street to Lansdowne Avenue. The project was also an opportunity to fix infrastructure, such as burying hydro lines. The rest of the line is expected to be complete sometime this year.

At least one new St. Clair restaurateur previously told the Town Crier he thinks the streetcar will bring positive change to the neighbourhood.

Only time will tell.

About this article:

By: Karolyn Coorsh
Posted: Jan 14 2010 1:14 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto