West Toronto Railpath Public Consultation
Artist rendering of West Toronto Railpath extension
Over 250 people came out on a snowy night at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) for the City’s Public Consultation Event for the West Toronto Railpath (WTR) extension. City representatives from Transportation Services, and Parks, Forestry & Recreation were in attendance along with a spokesperson from Metrolinx as part of a presentation with Q&A. Councillor Gord Perks also took part, and Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão closed out the presentation describing the existing WTR as “a gem in the city.”
The designs and panels on display can be found on the City’s website.
The existing railpath runs 2.1km from Cariboo Ave north of Dupont Ave over Bloor St to Dundas W. The proposed extension would continue about 2km south-east past Queen St to Sudbury St with a short on-street ride that would connect to the CAMH extension, which ends at Shaw St. While a much used cycling connection, the WTR has also become a vital community space with urban art and diverse greenery.
The proposed extension takes lessons learned from the existing railpath. The extension will add a centre line to help people share the trail more effectively, and there will be more accessible connections to the trail including the NoFrills at Lansdowne Ave. However, improving accessibility at existing points is out of scope of the project.
The most controversial part of the presentation stemmed from a question about Metrolinx’ planned closures to existing portions of the WTR this year. Metrolinx construction for the Kitchener GO expansion is scheduled for spring 2020 including a planned 12 month closure with on road diversions of the WTR between Ernst Ave and Bloor St. There are shorter closures planned further north and south as well There are serious accessibility concerns with the current plans due to the stairs used to reach the WTR at Bloor St. Staff reported that potential mitigating measures including adding temporary signals at Perth Ave and Bloor St to allow crossing are currently not part of the plan. Metrolinx outlines the impacts here.
WTR closure and proposed detour north of Bloor
The current timeline for the expansion would be 2021 or 2022 as the earliest possible construction start as funding remains a significant issue. Both Councillor Perks and Deputy Mayor Bailão suggested there is a lot of interest in this project on Council, but budget requires coordination between the City and the Province with the cost of property acquisition remaining an undetermined cost. Councillor Perks noted that the timelines presented might not come to fruition and that political leaders at all levels of government need to hear support for projects like this. “Speak with a louder voice,” he told the crowd.
The City is accepting feedback on West Toronto Railpath Extension until March 12, 2020. Fill out the feedback form online.
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