Corktown Station Early Works Report brings Ontario Line another step closer to reality

Metrolinx is looking for community feedback on a new environmental assessment for the early works required at Ontario Line’s Corktown Station. These steps are important to keep the project on track and deliver transit relief sooner.

In another important development in the life of Ontario Line, Metrolinx is releasing an Early Works Report for Corktown Station.

It’s a vital foundation block for the new transit route that will bring nearly 16 kilometers of much needed rapid transit to Toronto.

Ontario Line’s Corktown Station will provide convenient transit connections east of the downtown core, integrated with a vibrant mix of housing, commercial, retail and community space, all while commemorating the important history and culture connected to the First Parliament site.

Aside from being home to a future station, the area will also accommodate the launch shaft for the project. Launch shaft sites are critical to subway projects because they are used to launch the tunnel excavation equipment and tunnel boring machines that are needed to build the tunnels and underground station spaces. Before work can begin to prepare for tunnelling, the site needs to be studied so that any onsite archaeological resources can be avoided, or properly documented if they need to be removed.

“We are releasing this Corktown early works report as part of a multi-phased environmental assessment process to allow some important work to begin so that we can provide much-needed transit relief sooner,” said Metrolinx’s Ontario Line project sponsor, Malcolm MacKay.

Project sponsors are Metrolinx experts who are responsible for maximizing the benefits of projects to the community.

“These early works will set the groundwork for other major construction activities in the future and reduce the risk of delays to the project,” MacKay added. The report highlights the area as two blocks – one referred to as the North site, located to the north of Front Street, and one referred to as the South site, which contains the former site of the First Parliament of Upper Canada, to the south of Front Street.

Image shows a Google map of the Corktown area.
This image shows the two blocks highlighted on the Corktown Station site. (Metrolinx image)

During construction, the North site will serve as the launch site for the tunnel boring machine needed to tunnel the downtown segments of the line. It will also be the site of the future Corktown Station, the Ontario Line station that will serve Corktown and the Distillery District. The South site, which includes the former First Parliament site, will house workshops and offices for construction crews as well as the storage space needed for tunnelling equipment and excavation materials.

The report details what early works are required – the removal of existing buildings and structures on the sites, utility disconnections and soil removal. These early works will support the completion of important environmental and archaeological work.

Image shows the parking lot.
History underneath – This parking lot was once home to the first Parliament Buildings in Canada. (Mike Winterburn photo)

Understanding the history and archaeological resources that could be uncovered on this site, Metrolinx wants to provide enough time for thorough archaeological investigations before any construction begins. To prevent the risk of project delays, these investigations are targeted to start by the fall of this year.

Metrolinx has established a working group to collaborate on a comprehensive heritage interpretation and commemoration strategy for the former site of the First Parliament of Upper Canada. It includes representatives from the City of Toronto, Infrastructure Ontario, the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, the Ministry of Transportation, and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. This working group will review updates on environmental investigations and archaeological studies, develop commemoration ideas and contribute to the long-term vision for the site.

“All archaeological work will be completed by licensed archaeologists,” said Carrie Sheaffer, senior manager of Metrolinx’s Environmental Programs and Assessment team. “Monitors from Indigenous Nations will be invited to participate in all archaeological work to ensure any Indigenous archaeological resources found are handled appropriately.”

The draft Corktown Station Early Works Report is available now for public review and feedback. The 30-day consultation period ends on June 11, 2021.

All feedback will be shared with the project team and will be summarized and addressed in the final report that will be published no later than July 16, 2021.

Interested in another recent Ontario Line story?

Story by Joshua Patel, senior advisor, subway program.