Ontario Line east segment update looks at how noise walls will make communities quieter

As Metrolinx prepares to host another Ontario Line open house tonight (April 22) for the eastern stretch of the new Toronto route, details have emerged about how noise walls proposed in the neighbourhoods of Riverside and Leslieville will make things noticeably quieter than they are today. This feature gives a sneak peek of some of the improvements experts will detail during tonight’s discussion.

Seamless noise walls proposed along the existing rail corridor in Riverside and Leslieville are expected to result in quieter, more peaceful streets, with noise levels lower than they are today.

Studies are still underway, but early results show the sound of every train passing through many locations around Leslieville and Riverside will be reduced compared to today’s levels. Noise levels throughout the day and night will also be lower than they currently are at many locations along this part of the route. Once studies are completed and all the findings are reviewed and verified, they will be shared with the community ahead of the Lakeshore East Joint Corridor Early Works Report this year.

“We’re confident that noise walls will help make nearby neighbourhoods quieter than they are today,” says Carrie Sheaffer, Metrolinx senior manager for Environmental Programs and Assessment.

“We look forward to working with communities on how to design these walls in a way that effectively reduces noise and fits the look and feel of the neighbourhood.”

Where noise walls are needed, planning and design teams take every effort to protect as many neighbouring trees as possible and plant new trees to enhance surrounding spaces.

This image shows how landscaping could be used to enhance space near the existing rail tracks, next to Jimmie Simpson Park. The exact location, height and design will be confirmed as planning work continues.
This image shows how landscaping could be used to enhance space near the existing rail tracks, next to Jimmie Simpson Park. The exact location, height and design will be confirmed as planning work continues. (Metrolinx image)

An array of design elements are also considered to enhance noise walls so they fit well with surrounding spaces, like parks. These include the type of wall, such as transparent or textured walls, and vegetation, landscaping and streetscaping options that could help walls blend into the background.

Protecting parks

Metrolinx recently shared updated plans on how the Ontario Line tracks will be arranged through the existing GO rail corridor. Placing the subway tracks side-by-side within the corridor instead of straddling either side of it cuts down on impacts to surrounding parks and green spaces by trimming down the amount of space taken up by stations.

“We know how important parks and greenspaces are to this community so we’re glad to be bringing forward this change, which better protects them,” says Malcolm MacKay, Ontario Line program sponsor.

“The new arrangement will require only one station building and platform at Gerrard and Leslieville stations instead of two, which will take up less space and give customers a simpler and more convenient travel experience.”

Image shows trains at a station.
This artist drawing shows the corridor cross section of a station north of Queen Street. (Metrolinx image)
Image shows a cross-section of a train station.
And this shows a corridor cross section in the middle of Jimmie Simpson and Bruce Mackey Parks (Metrolinx image)

Like the previous plan, important community spaces like Jimmie Simpson Recreation Centre, Fontbonne Ministries and surrounding local businesses will still be able to continue to operate during construction and beyond.

“We’re very eager to talk more about these improvements with community members and to get their feedback as we refine plans and designs,” says MacKay. “Aside from the virtual open houses we’ll continue to host, we’re always available to answer questions and gather feedback through all of the regular channels.”

Metrolinx is hosting a live virtual open house event for residents who live along the East Segment of the Ontario Line today (April 22nd) from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

“The virtual open houses give us an opportunity to share updates with as many people as possible while keeping everyone safe,” explains Josh Vandezande, senior manager of community relations for the Ontario Line.

“Taking feedback and answering questions is an important part of this project, and we’ve enhanced our online capabilities to allow for more two-way dialogue.”

You can register here to ask a question to our expert panel.

In the meantime, you can connect with a Metrolinx team member at ontarioline@metrolinx.com, by calling 416-202-5100 or visiting MetrolinxEngage.com/OntarioLine to book a virtual one-on-one meeting.

Story by Sara Wilbur, Metrolinx senior advisor, Capital Communications