The influx of new development, ever-worsening congestion and the new availability of development lands has community advocates and elected officials calling for progress on improving south Etobicoke’s transit options.
None of the GO Transit and TTC improvement plans currently under study are anywhere near becoming a reality. They all face significant challenges – funding, political opposition, site plan approvals – none of which will be easily resolved, admit advocates.
And with the influx of condominium development already in highly concentrated areas like Humber Bay Shores, and even more development on the horizon, Etobicoke-Lakeshore MPP Peter Milczyn admits congestion is only destined to get worse.
“There’s half a dozen new buildings coming on line in the next few years, and there will be thousands of additional residents with no real respite from congestion and any foreseeable improved transit service right now,” he told The Guardian last week.
The Liberal politician supports efforts to build a new GO train and bus station in south Etobicoke, potentially on the 11-hectare former Mr. Christie bakery site, located at 2150 Lake Shore Blvd. That site could one day be the location of significant new development if land owners Mondelez Canada succeeds in its efforts to have the site rezoned for residential properties.
It’s not likely any development of the Mondelez lands would begin for another decade.
Milczyn points to the nearby sprawling Mystic Pointe redevelopment which has been in the works for 25 years. In the meantime congestion is sure to worsen, he said.
“You need an additional GO station where you have the biggest concentration of population. In south Etobicoke that is Humber Bay Shores,” he said.
Milczyn said he has discussed with Metrolinx the prospects of building an additional stop for south Etobicoke to join the existing Mimico GO station which is undergoing renovations on the Lakeshore West line.
But the immediate priority for the provincial transit planning agency is completing the expansion and electrification strategy for most of the GO rail network across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.
That work is still several years away from completion, but after it’s completed it could be feasible to begin construction of a new station, Milczyn said.
Mike Olivier, the chair of the transit committee for the Etobicoke advocacy group Our Place Initiative, as well as a core member of the South Etobicoke Transit Action Committee (SETAC), also voiced support for an additional GO station.
When it comes to improving TTC service, OPI has joined other voices such as Etobicoke-Lakeshore councillor Mark Grimes in advocating for relocating the Humber streetcar Loop from its existing location near the Queensway south to Park Lawn Avenue and Lake Shore Boulevard.
In a recent door-to-door canvass of south Etobicoke residents conducted by OPI, Olivier said many of those contacted expressed their reluctance for another major construction project in an area already inundated with cranes and front-loaders.
“That being said, there’s also a lot of people who’ve told us the Humber Loop is a poor place to transfer, especially when the 501 streetcars short-turn, and at night when it’s really isolated and unsafe,” Olivier said.
In addition to relocating the Loop, OPI supports building a new streetcar line traveling in a dedicated right-of-way from St. Joseph’s Health Centre to Exhibition Place. A new line separated from car traffic, despite taking years and tens of millions of dollars to fund, would benefit congestion as much as TTC service, Olivier said.
After years of consultations with TTC staff on the idea, Olivier said he was heartened by city council’s support of Grimes’ proposal Motion 11 – which was put forth in March - to study relocating the Humber Loop along with a new right-of-way. Both schemes are also likely to be part of the city’s transportation master plan for the Park Lawn and Lake Shore area with public consultations getting underway this fall.
“Hopefully we can get a GO station, a streetcar connection and a right-of-way to separate it from automobile traffic, which will only get worse the more condos they add,” Olivier said.
OPI has launched an online petition with the hopes of getting the endorsement of 500 residents for Motion 11. The petition stands at just over 460 signatures and will be presented to Toronto City Council once it reaches 500 names. “We want to make as much noise as possible and get on the radar of the city and the TTC,” said OPI executive director Murray Foster.
Milczyn however isn’t convinced relocating the Humber Loop makes much sense.
“My own anecdotal view of it as someone who grew up in Mimico and relied on the streetcar for many years to go to university and work, I don’t think moving the Humber Loop in and of itself is going to make any impact,” he said.
Author: Rahul Gupta
Source: Etobicoke Guardian
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