Singing the Crosstown blues at Bayview

Bayview and Eglinton. Photo by Robin Dickie.
Bayview and Eglinton. Photo by Robin Dickie.

“It was a problem in 2015. It’s a problem now.”—Norma Fisher, condo president

Anyone who drives or walks near the Bayview-Eglinton intersection knows it is a mess: lots of cars, hordes of pedestrians, and poor visibility make the intersection not just annoying but hazardous – especially for the residents of the condo at 1750 Bayview Ave.

The disruption at the intersection is due to construction for the Metrolinx LRT and the Leaside station for the new rapid transit line, which has been underway since 2015.

And for all that time the construction zone at Bayview and Eglinton has created an ‘unsafe situation’ for pedestrians and residents of 1750 Bayview Ave., according to condo staff.

Lyndsey McNally, condo property manager, says: “Our key point is that Metrolinx is the constructor of the subway and that they must be the professional organization managing safety.

“Instead, our residents, who are not safety experts, have had to routinely ask Metrolinx to address safety hazards after they are already in place. Metrolinx needs to take a proactive role and prevent safety and quality of life concerns before they begin.”

Metrolinx, through a spokesperson, says they are trying. Jamie Robinson, director of community relations and communications, says Metrolinx does take a proactive role on safety and residents’ concerns.

“We realize the impact of this project has been particularly acute for the residents of 1750 Bayview due to the building’s proximity to all the work required to first tunnel the Crosstown and now to build Leaside Station.

“We have had very regular communication with the residents and property management of 1750 Bayview. Our east community office is kitty-corner to 1750 and Crosstown staff are over there frequently. In addition, representatives of 1750 sit on our Leaside Station Construction Liaison Committee, a forum for the Crosstown construction project team to provide information and receive feedback for area residents and business representatives to proactively and regularly discuss construction activities, scheduling and community impacts.

“Representatives from the local councillor’s office, local businesses, business property managers, residential property managers, and resident groups, civic groups and organizations, such as schools, and project teams attend monthly meetings.”

But the problems persist says Norma Fisher, president of the condo board.

“The three-way pedestrian crossing at the intersection is of concern for those with mobility restrictions and creates an additional safety hazard for pedestrians crossing illegally at our driveway, which already has reduced visibility,” she adds.

“We do have a higher population of elderly residents, and some of them have disabilities,” she said, noting that those residents now have a more difficult, extended walk just to get to the grocery store across the street.

“Our concern is that the current configuration restricts access to basic services and does not preserve the dignity and independence of persons with disabilities.

There are also potentially dangerous situations with cars entering and exiting the condo parking garage. The area is full of ‘danger’ signs, pylons and hoarding. You really can only see the cars just as they’re coming to our driveway. We have exchanged over 2,000 emails related to these issues with Metrolinx and other parties in an effort to resolve our concerns.”

Ward 22 Councillor Josh Matlow said residents in his area, including those at 1750 Bayview Avenue, are living on the “front lines” of the new subway construction.

“Our community supports the Eglinton Crosstown LRT,” he added. “But we also expect that Metrolinx, their contractors and the City do everything possible to ensure the safety of pedestrians during construction. This cannot be negotiable.”

Robinson says, “Metrolinx works closely with local councillors, city staff, Toronto Police Services, traffic and parking enforcement, local residents to monitor and understand the impacts of construction and to mitigate the impacts, where practical. And, we make every effort to ensure that everyone receives up-to-date information on construction activities and timing and where they are directly impacted, they are supported. This involves significant outreach and public communication.”

Norma Fisher, the president of the condo board, just wants a solution.

About Ken Mallett 30 Articles
Ken Mallett has spent his entire working career of 30 + years as a newspaper reporter and television news writer/producer. He worked for ten years as a foreign correspondent in London England for the Sydney (Australia) Morning herald and Toronto Star before moving into television news as a writer/producer for the CBC and later Director of News and Current Affairs for Global Television. He is a regular contributor to Leaside Life.