Comments are still welcome on subway to York

For Marilyn Abram, customer service representative for Printing Services at York University, the extension of the Spadina subway to York University is “long overdue”. Abram was one of close to 100 interested participants who took part in a Toronto Transit Commission workshop last Thursday evening at the Keele campus. “I live close to York University, this subway extension is very important and it should be built,” said Abram.

The Thursday evening workshop brought members of the York community and area residents together with officials from the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), consultants working on the project and representatives from the City of Toronto to discuss the options for the subway extension. The workshop followed an open house, held in the Central Square Bear Pit at the Keele campus from 11am to 3pm.

Right: The TTC open house

“The open house that we had this afternoon was very well attended,” said Thomas Middlebrook, chief engineer of the TTC’s engineering department. “At times, the crowd was three to four people deep and we spoke to hundreds of people, all of whom had a very positive response. There was never a lull.” Middlebrook was one of a host of TTC representatives who were at the workshop to explain the TTC’s plans to staff, faculty and students who attended the afternoon open house and the evening workshop.

According to Middlebrook, right, visitors to the open house were particularly interested in the eight possible routes the subway extension could take through York University. “Their comments were very thoughtful and constructive,” he said. “I am very pleased with the response and level of interest.”

The events on Thursday represented an integral part of the environmental assessment process required before the TTC presents recommendations for city and provincial approval. The open house and the three-hour workshop brought University staff, faculty, students and local residents together with TTC and City of Toronto staff, to review and discuss possible subway routes from Downsview through York to the proposed York Region transit gateway on the north side of Steeles Avenue. This portion of the environmental assessment focuses on selecting the most preferred route. The next consultation at York is expected in the spring and will showcase the preferred route and station location.

Eight alternative routes and their accompanying general station locations were presented for review and comment. For the section of the route that would run through York University, two alternative station locations were presented to the workshop participants. Participants were asked to select between a station located in the Common or a station in the area of The Pond Road and Sentinel Road. The workshop participants expressed an overwhelming preference for the location in the Common.

For members of the York community who were not able to attend the open house or workshop, there is still an opportunity to review the routes and station locations and to submit comments online. The TTC has recreated the workshop online, complete with the PowerPoint presentation, discussion questions and eight possible route and station maps. Comments must be submitted by Feb. 24, 2005. Visit the Spadina Subway Extension Project site for the presentation and online comment form. Comments from last Thursday’s workshop and those collected from online submissions will form the basis for deciding the most preferred route.

Left: Workshop participants consider the options for the subway extension

The environmental assessment will be completed by the end of 2005. Following a public workshop this spring, Middlebrook and his staff will send a final report to the Ministry of Environment for review and decision. He is hoping to have the report ready by Sept. 2005.