Bathurst and Eglinton will not close to traffic, LRT construction remains on time

Forest Hill Station construction will now wrap up by the end of the year

It was welcomed news.

Attendees of a community consultation meeting broke into cheers and applause when told Metrolinx is no longer planning to close a section of Bathurst Street, north of Eglinton Avenue West, for seven months.

The planned move was meant to speed up area construction on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

Several hundred residents and business owners packed inside Beth Tzedec Congregation on Bathurst Street – just south of the proposed closure – for a Forest Hill Town Hall consultation meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 16.

The meeting, organized by Metrolinx, Crosslinx Transit Solutions, and the city of Toronto, was initially scheduled to inform the community of plans to close Bathurst one block north of Eglinton for seven months. The move would have saved three months of construction at Forest Hill Station, but was met with public outcry.

So hours before the meeting started, Metrolinx reversed course, acknowledging the provincial transit agency could have done a better job engaging the community as well as elected officials.

Jamie Robinson, Metrolinx’s acting chief of communications and public affairs, said the community had made it clear the closure would not be welcome.

“We clearly didn’t get it right this time,” he told the crowd, adding area construction will be greatly reduced by the end of the year. “We will take a step back and move forward together.”

The reversal came as a relief to Shelley Lynn, who said fellow residents were already subjected to noise, dust, and increased side street traffic.

“At this point we’ll take small victories,” she said. “I appreciate the LRT will be a good thing for the community, but we have to live through construction. I don’t see how saving three months (of construction) will make that much of a difference.”

But Joel, who didn’t want to give his last name, said he understands the good must come with the bad when it comes to creating transit.

“Of course it’s disruptive, but I just think of how this (LRT) will raise my property value,” he said of the project, which will include 25 stations. “We’ll forget about construction as soon as it’s over.”

The $5.3-billion, 19 kilometre-long LRT will run along Eglinton Avenue, from Mount Dennis Drive to Kennedy Road, above and below ground.

Completion is scheduled for September 2021.

Story by Fannie Sunshine, Metrolinx media relations and issues specialist.