Refined Ontario Line plans will better serve communities of Riverside, Leslieville

Rearranging Ontario Line tracks within the existing GO rail corridor in Riverside and Leslieville will result in a better customer experience, slim down permanent infrastructure, and protect more park space. Read more for a preview of the updates Metrolinx will be sharing at an upcoming virtual open house for the Ontario Line’s East Segment.

In an effort to increase benefits to customers and communities, Metrolinx continues to adjust and refine plans for the Ontario Line – specifically, how tracks will be arranged within the existing rail corridor currently used by GO Transit in the Riverside and Leslieville communities.

Early plans had Ontario Line tracks on either side of the GO tracks within the rail corridor in the above-ground section of the line that runs from Don Yard through to Gerrard. New plans now put Ontario Line tracks beside each other – on the northern side as it moves from the Don Yard across the Don River, and on the western side as it curves north and heads through Leslieville to the portal at Gerrard.

Ultimately, this adjustment will allow Metrolinx to minimize the footprint of the stations, since having an Ontario Line track on either side of the corridor would have required two separate buildings to access each track. Putting the tracks side-by-side will allow for single, streamlined station buildings at Gerrard and Leslieville stations that will serve trains in both directions, making station and platform access easier for customers while reducing the area needed for permanent infrastructure.

Image shows track routes.
A comparison of the previously studied track arrangement (straddle option) and the currently proposed arrangement – side by side – for the Ontario Line in Riverside/Leslieville. Under the previous option, station buildings would have surrounded both of the blue highlighted platform areas. (Metrolinx image)

“This proposed change factors in the feedback and concerns we’ve heard through numerous engagements and discussions with the community,” said Malcolm MacKay, Program Sponsor for the Ontario Line. “We’re still building the same number of tracks within the existing joint rail corridor, and the majority of our infrastructure will still be limited to Metrolinx-owned space so we can reduce property impacts. The big difference is that we’ll be able to provide a better customer experience and be even more respectful of neighbouring park space.”

Serving customers better

Even though the Ontario Line won’t see customers for a few more years, planners are continuously looking for ways to enhance benefits for future riders.

Re-positioning Ontario Line tracks at East Harbour means all Lakeshore East and Stouffville GO train services can stop at the station – something that wasn’t possible with the previous design. With a shared concourse providing easy access to all of the rail services that will serve East Harbour, more customers will be able to transfer between more trains, and travel to more places.

Customers who will be boarding the stations at Queen and De Grassi and at Gerrard and Carlaw will also see more benefits because, no matter what entrance they use, they’ll arrive at a centre platform that serves trains in both directions. They won’t have to worry about getting to platform level just to realize their train is on the other side of the rail corridor, accessed through a different station building. This will create a simpler, more accessible experience for everyone who uses the station.

Preserving parks

Protecting park space for communities remains a top priority for Metrolinx. As explained in past Metrolinx News articles, building in the existing GO rail corridor means that construction will be less invasive and will be completed sooner with the fewest possible property impacts. But the improvements to the track positioning means teams can cut down on the amount of station buildings needed as well, which means even fewer impacts to the parks that have been developed around the active rail corridor over the years.

If any park space is temporarily needed to support construction, Metrolinx will work with the community and the City of Toronto to maintain safe access to park space and programming as much as possible and ensure any space is thoughtfully restored and beautified when Ontario Line work is finished.

Image shows an online meeting taking place.
Members of Ontario Line’s community relations team gather in an online meeting. (Metrolinx image)

Keeping the conversation going

Continued collaboration between Metrolinx and the community will help to ensure the Ontario Line fits within the neighbourhood and becomes a valued travel option for residents, who will benefit from faster and easier transit and reduced traffic congestion on local roads.

“We’re very eager to discuss these plans with community members, and we’ll be doing that in the coming weeks as we iron out a few more details” said MacKay. “But in the meantime, I want people to know they can come to us at any time to get the facts about the project and what it means for them. There is definitely some speculation and inaccurate information going around, and we want people to base their opinions and feedback on the most up-to-date plans.”

Visit Metrolinx.com/OntarioLine to learn all about the project, sign up for regular updates, and get information about upcoming virtual open houses. Stay tuned for more information in the coming days on a virtual open house for the East Segment, where more details on these updated plans will be shared.