20-km walk along Eglinton transit corridor

MPP led six-hour trek to support proposed LRT line

Liberal MPP Mike Colle walked the length of the planned underground Eglinton Light Rapid Transit line from Kennedy Road to Mount Dennis to point out Eglinton Avenue is going to change big time. Once the LRT is built, he says, development in Toronto can no longer be done in a piecemeal fashion.

“We need to do some grand vision planning that goes across boundaries,” said Colle during the Aug. 17 walk. “That hasn’t been done before. Right now it’s been done piece by piece and it doesn’t work that way.”

A smattering of journalists, residents, supporters and politicians including Ward 22 councillor Josh Matlow and St.Paul’s MPP Eric Hoskins came out to join the walk. The 20 km trek, which took about six hours, was brisk so there was little time to stop to talk to business owners or residents.

The Eglinton corridor runs through 14 different city wards. To the west is the economically depressed Eglinton Village, the affluent Forest Hill in the centre and suburban Scarborough in the east, where the Eglinton line will connect to the Scarborough Rapid Transit line.

Colle is hopeful that the new transit line will revitalize the neighbourhoods along its route.

“This is the beginning of something I think is going to be good,” he said.

And it might not be long before the affected communities reap the benefits of the construction.

Some of the most affordable houses in the city are located at Eglinton Avenue West and Dufferin Street, says broker Mike Donia, who has listed properties in the area. Older homes sell for $290,000 and remodeled ones can fetch as much as $900,000.

He’s certain the LRT line will prime the area for gentrification.

“I think it’s a phenomenal area,” Donia said, “It’s getting better and better infill. We’re not seeing duplexes anymore and more and more affluent people are moving in.”

At the Allen Expressway, traffic empties onto Eglinton Avenue, creating gridlock issues. Colle hopes the LRT will help ease that traffic as there will be fewer buses traveling east-west on Eglinton Avenue, which will make the street more attractive to shoppers who don’t normally visit the boutiques in the area.

“Businesses suffer because of the traffic,” said Colle. “It’s hard to promote.”

At the intersections with Bayview Avenue and Leslie Street, empty lots provide ample opportunity for residential development. Already, developments at Leslie Street, advertise the future LRT line as a reason to buy into the subdivision.

At Victoria Park Avenue and Eglinton, Colle hopes to see the suburban landscape transform into an attractive shopping destination and pedestrian-friendly area.

Unlike the controversial St. Clair Avenue streetcar line, there shouldn’t be much disruption to businesses above ground, although businesses located near the planned stations will be affected by construction the entrances.

The city’s director of transportation planning, Rod McPhail, says the city intends to meet with community members and associations beginning this year to discuss development plans and how best to minimize the disruption caused by construction.

The Eglinton Scarborough Crosstown line, as it has been named, is scheduled to have 26 stations and will cost $8 billion. Tunnel boring is scheduled to begin in September, starting at Black Creek Drive and reach midtown by next summer. The line is scheduled for completion in 2020.

The Eglinton LRT is designed to reduce traffic congestion on Eglinton Avenue and divert passengers from the overcrowded Bloor-Danforth subway line.

About this article:

By: Alexandra Bosanac
Posted: Aug 30 2011 5:31 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto