Metrolinx answers often asked transit corridor land questions

A big build means big interest from those living and working near a project. That’s especially true when iconic Toronto neighbourhoods are involved, and the project is a world-class transit route like the Ontario Line. Metrolinx experts are answering the most asked questions they’re getting from those neighbouring the planned subway line. We thought we’d feature those answers here.

Metrolinx is answering the top questions community members have had about the Ontario Line and newly designated transit corridor lands.

Transit corridor lands will help speed up timelines for the Ontario Line, which will make it easier for generations of travellers to make their way across the city in 30 minutes or less – as well as connect to a regional network of transit options that stretch across the greater region.

A workman works on rails.
A rail expert works on a line in this file photo. (Metrolinx photo)

Construction of a major build is never easy for those living nearby, no matter the ultimate advantages.

Under the Building Transit Faster Act, 2020, new transit corridor lands have been designated for the Ontario Line and other priority transit projects. The goal is to reduce disruption for communities so people can enjoy the benefits of living near rapid transit sooner.

But details of what may need to happen on those lands – now and in the future – are understandably important to property owners.

Here are the answers to some of the most important – and most asked – questions from neighbours of the Ontario Line project.

Q – What are transit corridor lands?

A – Transit corridor lands are lands that may be needed for the planning, design or construction of priority transit projects, like the Ontario Line. Conditions apply to these areas, including the need to obtain a permit from Metrolinx for certain types of work, such as building an extension or digging a pool, and allowing Metrolinx to visit a property with advance notice to conduct inspections, tests or surveys. Many who own or occupy property on transit corridor lands will experience little to no impacts. For others, it may mean a small change to existing processes. If your property is needed in any way, you will hear from us well in advance.

Q – How did you set the boundaries of transit corridor lands?

A – Project planners and engineers looked at a number of factors to help set the boundaries. First, they looked at existing conditions and infrastructure along the proposed route of the Ontario Line, like sewer mains, roadways, and bridges. Then, they examined what kinds of work might be needed during planning and construction and how much room might be needed. Once the boundaries were set, an additional 30 metre buffer area was added surrounding the transit corridor lands in case any further needs come up.

Q – How will transit corridor lands prevent delays?

A – The conditions that apply to property on transit corridor lands and the 30 metre buffer area allow us to work directly with property owners and utility companies to coordinate access and work, and to review plans. This means we have the information we need sooner to ensure everyone is aware of any potential impacts — and how to avoid them — as early as possible.

Q – I’m pretty far from the proposed route – why did I get a letter?

A – The distance between the transit corridor land boundary and the route of the Ontario Line varies along the corridor. In some cases, the transit corridor lands only extend a short distance from the Ontario Line, while in other places, they extend up to several hundred metres. Boundaries extend to the furthest possible point where land may be needed for any reason – for instance, environmental studies about noise and vibration, utility relocation, access points for construction, or areas where traffic may need to be temporarily diverted. Property owners in the 30 metre buffer area surrounding transit corridor lands also received a notice, as the same permitting and property access conditions apply to their property

Q – Is the designation of my property as transit corridor land permanent?

A – No. The transit corridor land designation is for the planning, design and construction phases of the project. Once construction is complete and the Ontario Line opens, the designation will be revoked and the notice removed from the property title.

Q – Won’t this reduce the value of my property?

A – Simply having property on transit corridor land doesn’t mean your property will lose value. In fact, we’ve seen that property close to transit increases in value. The notice on the title is similar to other informational notices that commonly appear on property titles, like for properties within an airport zone. We understand that construction isn’t a selling feature, but the goal of transit corridor lands is to help construction move quickly. The designation doesn’t prevent you from selling or leasing your property.

Q – Am I entitled to compensation for having property on transit corridor land?

A – Having property on transit corridor land does not guarantee it will be needed to support construction. If any part of your property is needed, Metrolinx will compensate you. We compensate owners at fair market value whether we need some or all of a property. Our preferred approach is to negotiate with owners to reach amicable agreements for any property that is needed. If we do need to access or acquire your property, you will receive a separate notice that will explain what is needed in greater detail.

Q – When do I need a permit from Metrolinx, and why?

A – Permits are needed for work that would add, change or extend a structure on the property, such as a shed or an extension on a home. They are also needed for excavation or drainage work, like when building a pool. You won’t need a permit for work inside your home, like renovating a kitchen or bathroom. Permits help us understand what work might be happening along the line and avoid conflicts that might delay transit construction or your own plans. We want to work with you to coordinate construction activities and timing – not prevent you from making improvements. We don’t expect plans will be impacted in the large majority of cases. If some changes to your plans are required, we’ll work with you on a solution. For more information on what kind of work may need a permit, visit metrolinx.com/permits.

Want to know more about the Ontario Line project? The Ontario Line’s Metrolinx Engage site is a great place to start, or just keep up with changes.