Anger over new transit office grows

TTC is to move their new headquarters to York Mills, but residents say it's no benefit to them

Residents near Yonge Street and York Mills Road are up in arms over a proposal by Build Toronto to construct the new TTC headquarters at York Mills subway station.

A town hall meeting between local residents and members of Build Toronto, the real estate development corporation dedicated to selling unused city property, was recently held in a local church and many attendees voiced loud opposition.

“I’m not impressed. I see no benefit to the community,” said Trevor Jones, a board member of the Yonge Ridge Homeowners Association.

Officials asserted that the new site would likely benefit the TTC by allowing all office staff to work in one central location. The TTC’s current headquarters at Davisville station houses around 300 staff members, but more work at various locations across the city. Plans for the new development call for enough space for about 1,400 TTC staff members.

While many critics of the controversial plan have raised issues over the cost and need for such a building, local residents seem concerned about one thing – parking.

“(Parking) has been a consistent concern that’s been raised by the residents since the beginning of the project,” said local councillor Karen Stintz, days after the meeting.

The location of the proposed building has angered some residents because it will be built on a site that is currently a heavily used commuter parking lot.

“This parking lot was a godsend. It was our way downtown. We had somewhere to park,” said Mervyn Deitel, a retired surgeon who lives near Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue. “Very, very upsetting. It’s not what Build Toronto or ‘Destroy Toronto’ calls surplus land.”

York Mills station currently has 260 parking spaces on its outdoor parking lot. If construction goes ahead as planned that number will be reduced to 227 spaces that will be underground, beneath the new structure. Of those, 120 spaces will be reserved for TTC staff during the daytime.

“Parking on this site is really underutilizing its value when you consider the incredible investment that we have in our subway system,” said Don Logie, Build Toronto’s senior vice-president of development.

TTC employees are provided with free metropasses, which officials are hoping will encourage them to use transit to commute to the new site and will eliminate the need for more parking spaces. However, some residents feel the lack of parking will render them unable to access the subway.

“The whole purpose was that you could use that parking lot so that you could use the subway to go downtown,” Jones said. “We’re losing a whole slew of parking spots as a result of that. So is that encouraging me to use the subway? No!”

The proposed plan also includes a restaurant, café and community space, all accessible to the public.

Another meeting will be held on Jan. 12 to discuss further developments.

As it turns out, the local councillor will be working on this project closely. Days after the town hall, Rob Ford named Stintz as his choice to replace outgoing councillor Adam Giambrone as chair of the TTC. She mentioned that if she does become the new TTC chair one of her priorities would be “figuring where the TTC headquarters will be located.”

About this article:

By: Tristan Carter
Posted: Dec 3 2010 10:16 am
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto