LRT goes back underground in Leaside

Metrolinx has gone back to square one for how to build the Eglinton Light Rail Transit through Leaside: The train will not traverse all of Leaside underground but will emerge above ground at Brentcliffe, not Don Mills Rd.

There will be an underground station at Laird and a surface stop at Leslie. The trains will reenter the tunnel at Don Mills Rd.

In her Leaside Property Owners’ Association column intended for this issue of Leaside Life, Vice-President Carol Burtin Fripp had written, before the Metrolinx reversal:

“…in December 2012, Metro-linx… held a public meeting at which they promoted a new route design which extended the tunnel all the way to Don Mills, digging deep below the Don River, and eliminated any station at Leslie…

“Without a Leslie station, all Leslie buses would be required to turn west onto Eglinton, then turn south at Laird to drop their passengers on the sidewalk. Passengers would then descend into the station.  The Laird/Eglinton intersection becomes a ‘surface transportation hub,’ making it a very busy and congested corner.

“Because of negative public reaction to this second proposal, Metrolinx came up with a third idea in April, which incorporates the worst features of the second plan, and more.

“The newest feature? The elimination of the LRT station at Laird. This third proposal retains underground tunnelling all the way to Don Mills, as in version number two, with no station at Leslie.

“A ‘Leaside’ station at Brentcliffe, replacing the Laird station, is an unacceptably long walking distance from Bayview, the closest station to the west. Brentcliffe is much too far from most of Leaside’s residents, as well as the commercial Laird strip, to be convenient for anyone.

“Remember, we have no guarantee from the TTC that there will be adequate bus service along Eglinton to compensate, once the LRT is completed…

“Another important consideration is connectivity. We are spending billions of transit dollars on the Eglinton LRT, so it should be built for the future, with both a potential relief line and commuter rail expansion in mind.

“To build the Crosstown without a station at Leslie is beyond shortsighted.”

Neighbouring Ward 25 (Don Valley West) Councillor Jaye Robinson, wrote in a letter to Burtin Fripp: “Resident engagement – from attending public consultations to sending petitions and emails – clearly made the difference!”

In an interview she said Carol Burtin Fripp and Geoff Kettel, both members of Leaside Property Owners’ Association and fighters for the original plan, “have shaped the future of transit for decades”.