The Province of Ontario announced the Ontario Line in early 2020, building off of the Council-approved Relief Line. With 15 stations, this new subway line will connect the Ontario Science Centre to Exhibition Place, cutting directly through the downtown core, with three stations in Toronto Centre: Corktown Station, Moss Park Station, and Queen Station.
When the Provincial Government took over all of Toronto's Subway expansion, Premier Ford also created fast-track legislation to build transit and provide a gift to his developer friends and party supporters. Through the downtown, the province has expropriated municipal lands to sell to private developers to build Transit-Oriented Communities, and residential and commercial density surrounding subway stations. While Infrastructure Ontario drafts these plans, they’ll be sold to a third-party developer and used as revenue to subsidize building the subway. The largest site in Toronto Centre is Corktown Station on the First Parliament site, emblematic of Canada's democratic history and roughly the size of Nathan Philip Square.
Building the Ontario Line will create a decade of construction and disruption throughout our communities. The province will have authority over all land, and we need to work together to ensure minimal disruption and maximum community contributions. Transit expansion is critical in connecting neighbourhoods and making travel through our beautiful city easier. Equally important is preserving public lands, community consultation for local planning efforts, the community benefits framework, and coordinated work plans with City divisions to ensure safe, affordable and complete communities are built.
New Provincial Legislation
The two big legislative policies affecting our neighbourhoods through the building of the Ontario Line are Transit-Oriented Communities and the Build Transit Faster Act. These new legislations took effect during the pandemic with little consultation or awareness. This gives the province extraordinary authority over municipalities in the name of transit projects, including overriding local planning policies and the Expropriation Act, which hasn’t been altered since 1970.
While this legislation is affecting our neighbourhoods, many policy gaps leave the City guessing and interpreting a meaning which has yet to be finalized. The aggressive timeline of the build makes it nearly impossible to catch up to the fluctuating landscape.
Ontario Line Subcommittee
On February 23rd, 2023, Councillor Malik, Councillor Fletcher and I moved to create an Ontario Line Subcommittee at the Toronto East York Community Council to set explicit expectations for Metrolinx and request timelines for construction work. This subcommittee will also allow for residents to engage with Metrolinx and share their feedback with the provincial agency.
Our first meeting is on Wednesday, March 22 at 9:30am - please come out and make a deputation. I continue to invite Metrolinx to the table so we can build critical transit infrastructure responsibly and with community consultation.
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