Residents who spent years advocating for a cycling and walking path travelling from the Junction to Toronto’s downtown core are celebrating the completion of phase one.
Politicians, cycling advocates and environmentalists attended a ribbon-cutting of the West Toronto Railpath at Dundas Street West and Wallace Avenue on Oct. 30.
Running parallel to the GO train tracks, the new 2,100 metre paved path features trees, lights, public art, and bike stands.
The city acquired the land in 2001 to develop a multi-use trail for both recreational and commuter purposes. Construction began in June 2009.
“It’s something they’ve been waiting to see for a long time,” said Mike Foderick, who helped spearhead the project a decade ago.
Back then, Friends of the West Toronto Railpath, a group of residents that includes Foderick, envisioned transforming a disused, unpaved rail corridor in West Toronto into a beltline park and commuter corridor.
It currently runs from Cariboo Avenue to the Dundas and Lansdowne area, south of Bloor Street.
But advocates want to eventually continue the path to just south of King Street at Strachan Avenue, and connect it to the Wellington bike path network.
When completed, the bicycle commute from the Junction to the financial district will be cut in half, to 15 minutes, according to Friends of the West Toronto Railpath.
But the path to a completed route isn’t without obstacles.
A chief hold-up has been a series of environmental assessments conducted by Metrolinx, the province’s transportation agency overseeing the expansion of the Georgetown GO train line.
Metrolinx has been reluctant to relinquish southern portions of land for the path before assessments can be completed.
But the transportation agency is already showing consideration for the railpath in its Georgetown expansion planning.
“The Strachan Avenue grade separation has been designed to include two bike lanes, allowing for future potential connections to be explored,” said Metrolinx’s Vanessa Thomas in an email.
Foderick is hoping for good news.
“We’ve had some informal assurances (in) some very successful meetings with Metrolinx,” he said. “They’ve assured us that they’re going to be able to bring it at least as far as King Street.”
The question on many people’s minds now is, will area residents have to wait another 10 years for the completion of this project?
Foderick doesn’t think so.
“I think this is something everyone can agree on,” he said. “It takes what was forgotten space, an unused space, and turns it into something amazing.”
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