West Toronto Rail Path. Photo by Robert Zaichkowski
Don't miss your chance to comment on West Toronto Railpath Extension before February 15
Story and photos by Robert Zaichkowski
Until February 15, 2016, stakeholders of the West Toronto Railpath Extension have the opportunity to comment on the Environmental Study Report (ESR). You can read a hard copy of the report at the Parkdale, College-Shaw, and Fort York branches of the Toronto Public Library. A version is also available to read in full online.
The West Toronto Railpath is a multi-use path popular with west-end residents, which goes along the Kitchener GO corridor from Cariboo Ave. to the current terminus of Dundas Street West. This first phase was completed in 2008 and won an urban design award in 2011.
As part of the recommendations from the 2012 Bikeway Trails Implementation Plan, an environmental assessment for extending the West Toronto Railpath – first identified as a trail candidate in 1998 – was launched. The EA had the study area split into three sections: North (bridges required at Dundas and Lansdowne), Centre (from Lansdowne to Dufferin) and South (from Dufferin to the future Fort York pedestrian and cycling bridge).
Three key goals were set for this EA. These include the development of a high quality active transportation facility with the “dream trail” following as closely to the Kitchener GO line as possible. The path will connect communities along the corridor from the Junction to Liberty Village, and with future active transportation projects such as the following:
- Fort York Pedestrian and Cycling Bridge
- Northern Linear Park / Under Gardiner
- Liberty New Street
- King Liberty Pedestrian/Cyclist Link
- King High Line
- Contraflow routes such as Argyle-Florence (complete except for Waterloo due this year)
There was also a proposed Brock bicycle boulevard extension in Parkdale via Spencer-Elm Grove or Cowan.
The West Toronto Railpath’s second role as a linear park addresses the issue of Toronto’s west end having the lowest amount of parkland per capita in the city. This is in spite of several large parks in proximity such as Trinity Bellwoods Park and Sorauren Avenue Park; the latter has been the focus of a potential bridge to connect with the Railpath.
The consultation process consisted of three public meetings each attended by 80 to 110 people, as well as two stakeholder workshops. The workshops involved the City of Toronto, Province of Ontario, Metrolinx, and external stakeholders such as Cycle Toronto and Friends of the West Toronto Railpath.
Aboriginal communities, such as the Mississaugas of New Credit, were also involved in consultations in case archaeologists identified ancestral burial sites.
The recommended alignment is to build the “dream trail” adjacent to the Kitchener GO line from Dundas Street West to Abell Street; southeast of the Queen-Dufferin intersection. Given the lack of land south of Queen Street and the number of concerns raised at Public Meeting such as sharrows, trees, and parking; no recommendation was made south of Abell Street and the EA mentioned further study would be needed.
The cost of the extension per Section 8 of the report is approximately $22.8 million including a 20% contingency for cost overruns and 5% for public art and urban design features. Of the expenditures, crossing the Barrie GO line is reported to be the most expensive at $7.3 million – almost a third of the total cost.
Those wishing to comment on the environmental assessment are encouraged to contact Maogosha Pyjor with the city’s Public Consultation Unit by phone at (416) 338 2850 or e-mail at email@example.com.
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