2022 Council Briefing: Transit Network Expansion Projects
The City of Toronto (TTC and divisions), in collaboration with Metrolinx and Waterfront Toronto, is delivering several transit expansion priority projects. Some projects are led by the City and others are led by the Province.
City-led Transit Expansion Projects
The SmartTrack Stations Program will leverage existing heavy rail infrastructure into an urban rapid transit network. SmartTrack is funded by the City of Toronto and is being delivered in collaboration with Metrolinx, and will see five stations constructed at Finch-Kennedy, East Harbour, King-Liberty, Bloor-Lansdowne and St. Clair-Old Weston.
The Waterfront East LRT (WELRT), being explored in collaboration with Waterfront Toronto, and the Eglinton East Light Rail Transit (EELRT), are also key projects. Staff will seek City Council authority in 2023 to advance both the WERLT and EELRT projects.
In addition, City staff will report in 2023 on a recommended approach to advance the higher-order transit projects appearing on Map 4 of the Official Plan. The report will identify gaps in the plan, the relative priority of these transit projects, and the next steps to advance the highest priorities, including required resources.
Provincially-led Transit Expansion Projects
The Metrolinx-led projects are:
the Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit (LRT);
the Finch West LRT; and
the Subways Program (i.e. the Ontario Line, Scarborough Subway Extension, Yonge North Subway Extension, and the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension).
To advance these projects, the City’s Transit Expansion Office is working with the Province and Metrolinx to review its designs and procurement materials, resolve construction issues as they arise, and negotiate agreements. City Council authority will be sought in early 2023 on an Agreement-in-Principle to further define the roles, responsibilities, and obligations of the City and the Province on the Subways Program.
City-led Transit Expansion Projects
SmartTrack Stations Program: A revised Ontario-Toronto Agreement in Principle was completed in 2021 and represents an investment of $1.463 billion by the City, in which Metrolinx will deliver SmartTrack Stations at Finch-Kennedy, East Harbour, King-Liberty, St. Clair-Old Weston, and Bloor Lansdowne. Procurement for all five stations is currently underway. The Program is anticipated to be fully constructed by 2026.
Waterfront East LRT (WELRT): The design for the WELRT is 30% complete and several engineering exercises will refine the design and update the cost estimate. The Transit Expansion Office is assessing constructability and coordination risks with other planned and in-progress major infrastructure projects in the vicinity of the WELRT alignment. A report back to City Council is anticipated in Q2 2023.
Eglinton East Light Rail Transit (EELRT): City staff are advancing the Transit Project Assessment Process and 10% design for a distinct service concept with an at-grade connection at Kennedy Station for the EELRT from Kennedy Station to Malvern Town Centre, and for the Sheppard Avenue segment from Neilson Road to McCowan Road. This includes ensuring the EELRT design is accommodated in the design and delivery of the Scarborough Subway Extension project.
Provincially-led Transit Expansion Projects
Eglinton Crosstown LRT: Metrolinx anticipates that construction will reach substantial completion in 2023.
Finch West LRT: Metrolinx anticipates that construction will be completed in late 2023.
GO Expansion: Improvements to rail infrastructure are occurring at Union Station and the eight GO corridors that serve 19 stations within Toronto. On-Corridor, one of the three packages of work in this Program, includes electrification of various GO corridors, new tracks and facilities throughout the network, and several grade separations. Construction is planned to begin in late 2022/early 2023, with construction completion estimated for 2029-30.
Scarborough Subway Extension (SSE): Tunnel excavation began in May 2022 at the northeast corner of Sheppard Avenue and McCowan Road. By the fall of 2022, a proponent will be selected to deliver the Stations, Rail, and Systems package of work. Construction completion is estimated for 2029-30.
Eglington Crosstown West Extension (ECWE): Tunnelling started on Eglinton Avenue in April 2022 from the launch site near Renforth Drive and Eglinton Avenue West towards an extraction shaft at Scarlett Road. Design work for the elevated portions between Jane Street and Scarlett Road has commenced. Construction completion for the ECWE is estimated for 2030-31.
Ontario Line (OL): Ground-breaking at Exhibition Station commenced in March 2022. The final Environmental Impact Assessment Report was released in April 2022. Major construction for the Ontario Line is anticipated to begin in 2023 with construction completion estimated for 2030.
Yonge North Subway Extension (YNSE): Early planning and design continue with early work at Finch Station to begin in late 2022. The main construction of the YNSE is set to begin in late 2023 with completion estimated for 2030.
Background & Context
In the last two years, City Council has taken a number of decisions to advance transit expansion objectives and agreements with the Province of Ontario that include but are not limited to:
A Term Sheet to set out a clear understanding and agreement between the City, TTC and Metrolinx on funding obligations, approvals, dispute resolution and decision-making processes for the operation and maintenance of the ECLRT (EX34.5).
A Master Agreement for the GO Expansion Program between the City and Metrolinx to advance the City’s infrastructure, assets and services as Metrolinx works to provide faster and more efficient trains, two-way all-day service, and 15-minute or better service on core portions of the GO rail network (EX16.4).
A Revised Agreement in Principle (AIP) for the SmartTrack Stations Program that outlines the roles, responsibilities, and terms for the City’s funding commitment of $1.463 billion and Metrolinx’s commitment to delivering five SmartTrack Stations in Toronto.
A Term Sheet to advance the SmartTrack Stations Program which included an updated program scope of five stations at Finch-Kennedy, East Harbour, King-Liberty, St. Clair-Old Weston, and Bloor Lansdowne (EX20.2).
A Ontario-Toronto Transit Partnership Preliminary Agreement (PA) that describes multi-billion dollar investments by the City and Province to deliver transit expansion projects and establishes clear principles and responsibilities between the parties in implementing the Subways Program amongst other major transit initiatives in Toronto.
Truth, Justice & Reconciliation
Advancement of transit expansion projects supports Strategic Action 10 – Promote Prosperity in the City’s Reconciliation Action Plan to improve transit equity for Indigenous Peoples.
For transit projects led by the Province of Ontario, Metrolinx is consulting with impacted First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.
Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
The advancement of the City’s priority transit expansion projects will increase the number of Torontonians that live near higher-order transit. For example, the EELRT, once completed, will travel through or adjacent to seven Neighbourhood Improvement Areas (NIAs) and Emerging Neighbourhoods.
City Council has adopted several directives that request Metrolinx to ensure that community benefits are incorporated into the Province’s transit expansion projects. These include minimum employment thresholds/targets for equity-deserving groups, and social procurement requirements with opportunities for local businesses, social enterprises, and minority-owned businesses.
Equity, diversity, and inclusion are also factored into the early stages of transit expansion planning work by allocating additional weight to the benefits and burdens of the project on equity-deserving populations. For example, the transit evaluation frameworks consider the number of people served by the proposed project and the number of Indigenous, Black and equity-deserving communities served by the proposed project. This approach effectively doubles the weight for equity-deserving populations.
The City is also participating in the Mobilizing Justice project led by the University of Toronto to strengthen the City’s understanding of transportation inequities and develop tools and resources to improve the City’s consideration of equity-deserving communities in all aspects of transportation planning.
While investments in transit infrastructure are essential for Toronto’s continued growth and prosperity, the negative impacts of construction sometimes fall disproportionately upon retailers and other small businesses near construction zones. As such, the City has created programs such as the Transit Expansion Construction Mitigation Grant Program which supports Business Improvement Areas (BIAs), commercial areas, and business associations such as Little Jamaica that are impacted by various business disruptions resulting from the construction of major transit expansion projects across Toronto.
Director, Program Management and Planning, Transit Expansion Division Shalin.Yeboah@toronto.ca, 416-397-7358