West Toronto Railpath Extension
The City hosted a drop-in event on September 13, 2018 at the New Horizons Tower located at 1140 Bloor Street West.
View information materials from this event which highlight the different design elements being considered for extending the Railpath from Dundas Street West and Sterling Road to Abell Street and Sudbury Street.
Note: These documents may not be fully accessible. For accessible formats or communications support, please contact:
Maogosha Pyjor,Senior Public Consultation CoordinatorTelephone: 416-398-2850Email: Maogosha.Pyjor@toronto.ca
The deadline to submit comments was September 28, 2018, and the survey is now closed. Thank you for taking the time to tell us what you thought, your input is valuable to us. Please email us if there are any additional comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Detailed Design phase is underway and this task is being carried out jointly by the City of Toronto and Metrolinx with assistance from Hatch Limited.
A complete design plan is being developed to guide the future construction of the Railpath Extension multi-use trail, including detailed plans and drawings for:
- Four pedestrian-cycle bridges: over the Barrie rail corridor south of Dundas St. West (with provision for future connection to Sorauren Park), over Lansdowne Ave., over Brock St. and over Queen St. W.)
- Trail surface
- Landscape architecture and plantings
- Trail amenities at street access points such as benches, waste and recycling receptacles, bike parking options, etc.
Acts, regulations and City by-laws that may need to be adhered to will be incorporated into the design, including the Migratory Birds Convention Act, Ontario Heritage Act and Noise Control By-law, amongst others. In addition, where the trail route intercepts public utilities, review and approvals are required from Metrolinx and utility companies including Hydro One and Enbridge Gas.
The Detailed Design phase is also being coordinated with other projects planned in the area, including:
- Barrie Rail Corridor Expansion
- Kitchener Rail Corridor Expansion (including modifications to West Toronto Railpath Phase 1, north of Dundas St. West)
- Bloor-Lansdowne GO Station Environmental Assessment Study
- King-Liberty SmartTrack Station design
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In 2001, City Council adopted the Toronto Bike Plan which set out short and long-term goals for on and off-street cycling infrastructure. The Toronto Bike Plan identified an off-road trail connection along the Georgetown GO Transit rail corridor from north of Dupont Street to Strachan Avenue.
The first phase of the West Toronto Railpath from Cariboo Avenue (just north of Dupont) to the Dundas Street West Overpass along the rail corridor was completed in 2008. This section of Railpath received the 2011 City of Toronto Urban Design Award.
In June 2012, City Council adopted the multi-year Bikeway Trails Implementation Plan and new trail connection priorities. These priorities included a recommendation for an environmental assessment study to develop a preferred route to extend the West Toronto Railpath south from Dundas Street West to Strachan Avenue.
The City of Toronto has completed a study for the next phase to extend the West Toronto Railpath from Sterling Avenue (at Dundas Street West), along the Kitchener GO rail corridor to just south of Queen Street West (at Abell Street).
The study determined:
- Preferred alignment of the Railpath extension
- Urban design features such as landscaping, public art, bike parking, signage and lighting
- Access points linking the Railpath to communities along the rail corridor
- Design options for new pedestrian and bicycle bridges that may be required, and feasibility and cost-effectiveness of the different options
The City’s goal is to commence construction of the Railpath Extension in 2019 after Metrolinx has completed construction within their corridor for GO Transit service expansion and the Air-Rail Link service from Union Station to Pearson Airport.
This study followed a Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (Class EA) Schedule ‘C’ process, which included identifying the problem/opportunity, developing and evaluating a reasonable range of alternative solutions, and providing opportunities for public input.
The City completed the West Toronto Railpath Extension study report and issued it for a 30-day public review period from January 14 to February 15, 2016.
Environmental Assessment Final Report Summary & PDFs
Purpose and Study Area
The purpose of the West Toronto Railpath Extension Municipal Class Schedule C Environmental Assessment (EA) Study is to create a continuous multi-use trail system with connections to surrounding communities, accompanying cycling infrastructure and facilities to extend the existing West Toronto Railpath (WTR). The study area generally follows the existing West Toronto Railpath from the Dundas Street West Overpass (at Sterling Road), along the Kitchener GO rail corridor, to Strachan Avenue and the planned Fort York Pedestrian & Cycle Bridge. A combination of city streets and rail corridors with bridge crossings over existing streets are part of the route. A map of the study area is included in Figure 1.1 in Section 1 of the Environmental Study Report. The WTR Extension Study has assessed a number of options to facilitate expansion of this west-end trail system and has identified a preferred alternative solution with preliminary design concepts.
The West Toronto Railpath has been a candidate for a multi-use trail since the 1998 Inventory of Cycling Trail Opportunities in Rail and Hydro Corridors Report which was further examined Pre-Engineering/Cost Assessment of Trail Opportunities in Rail and Hydro Corridors Study in 2000. With the acquisition of the 2.1 km section of former rail lands from Canadian Pacific (CP), the City implemented the first phase of the WTR (Cariboo Avenue to Dundas St. W. Overpass) in 2008. In June 2012, the City of Toronto adopted new trail connection priorities and the multi-year Bikeway Trails Implementation Plan which recommended an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the WTR extension and development of a preferred route alignment (Dundas St. W. Overpass to beyond Strachan Ave.).
The Bikeway Trails Implementation Plan envisioned an alignment of the trail which runs along the Kitchener GO rail corridor and became known as the DREAM TRAIL alternative for the EA study. This route requires running parallel to the rail corridor on its northeast side, either within the corridor or immediately adjacent to it. It would provide a direct, diagonal connection through Toronto’s west end. It would develop a strong identity by taking advantage of the presence of adjacent rail activity and the character of formerly industrial neighbourhoods that were developed along the rail lines.
General Project Description
From the outset, the City recognized that unlike the existing West Toronto Railpath, there was not sufficient space available within the rail corridor and some segments of the extension would need to be aligned on city streets or along the rail corridor on private properties. Section 1.4 divides the study area into the following three segments to help understand key issues and area specific challenges for each:
- Segment 1 (North) – How to cross Dundas Street West, GO Barrie rail corridor and Lansdowne Avenue
- Segment 2 (Centre) – Lack of space available to continue WTR in or immediately along the rail corridor from Lansdowne Avenue to Dufferin Street
- Segment 3 (South) – How to proceed south of Queen Street West beyond Strachan Avenue where there is no space available within the rail corridor
The West Toronto Railpath Environmental Assessment was conducted in accordance with the requirements of the MCEA, Schedule C, as amended in 2015. This process consists of five phases with mandatory points of public contact, with the focus being a comprehensive and traceable decision-making process. The five phases include the following:
- Phase 1: Identify the problem (deficiency) or opportunity
- Phase 2: Identify alternative solutions to address the problem or opportunity by taking into consideration existing environment, and establish the preferred solution taking into account Public and Review Agency input. Determine the appropriate Schedule for the undertaking and document decisions
- Phase 3: Examine alternative methods of implementing the preferred solution, based upon the existing environment, public and Review Agency input, anticipated environmental effects, and methods of minimizing negative effects and maximizing positive effects
- Phase 4: Document, in an Environmental Study Report (ESR), a summary of the rationale, and the planning, design and consultation process of the project. The ESR is filed with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) and placed on the public record for a 30 day review period
- Phase 5: Complete contract drawings and documents, and proceed to construction and operation, with appropriate monitoring (MCEA, 2015), conditional on the project approval following the ESR submission
As per the MCEA requirements, the Environmental Study Report (ESR) has been prepared to document the West Toronto Railpath Extension Schedule C MCEA project activities, correspondence, and decision-making process up to and including Phase 4 of the MCEA process.
City of Toronto, Government of Ontario, Metrolinx and several non-governmental groups are actively promoting healthy living opportunities, active transportation and developing useful policies and plans to justify and guide the development of active transportation like the West Toronto Railpath Extension. Section 2 provides several examples of these polices and plans.
The WTR Extension would pass through different west-end neighbourhoods where there is an assortment of existing and planned transportation infrastructure, private development projects, bicycle facilities, and transit service. Sections 4 and 6 provide an extensive listing of existing and planned transportation infrastructure and area conditions which were important considerations for identifying the problems and opportunities.
Public consultation was carried out in accordance with the consultation requirements set out in the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (MCEA) document. Stakeholder groups included the public (area residents and interested persons), Aboriginal communities, Review Agencies, Technical Advisory Committee, Key Stakeholders (community groups, agencies, property owners and utilities within the study area) and local politicians.
An extensive consultation program was followed. Three public events and two stakeholder workshops were held over the course of the Study. Consultation with the public, various stakeholders, and agencies was also a key component. The Project Team met with various groups and gathered valuable input and varying opinions. Section 3 provide further details on the consultation participants, activities conducted and Appendices A through I provides applicable records and correspondence.
The West Toronto Railpath Extension project team developed the following problem or opportunity statement to be addressed through this Class EA:
An opportunity exists to provide a continuous high-quality active transportation facility, to connect local communities and to link with other active transportation facilities while travelling within/along the GO Kitchener rail corridor from Dundas Street West and to the planned Fort York Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge.
Evaluation Criteria and Alternative Solutions
The Class EA recognizes that there are different ways to solve a problem or provide an opportunity which requires that various alternative solutions be considered. Section 7.5 provides a list of the alternative solutions for each of the three Segments (North, Centre, and South). Sections 7.6 and 7.7 detail the evaluation of those alternatives.
The alternative solutions were comparatively evaluated based on a set of evaluation criteria that was developed based on the broad definition of the environment as described in the Environmental Assessment Act. The comparative evaluation considered existing conditions, including the transportation, engineering and economic, cultural and natural environment features in the study area, and the various planning considerations described in this report. The alternative with the least environmental effects and the most technical benefits formed the rationale for the preferred alternative design solution.
The alternatives were also weighed heavily against the alignment of the “Dream Trail” while recognizing that the context and conditions of the study area have changed significantly since the Bikeway Trails Implementation Plan (2012) was prepared. The original vision of the WTR at the time has remained a compelling ultimate goal for local residents, cyclists and others.
Preferred Alternative Design Solution
The recommended design concept features considered for the “Dream Trail” are feasible for the North and Centre segments and a part of the South segment from Dufferin Street to Abell Street and can be implemented in the short term. However, “Dream Trail” solution for the South segment from Abell Street to the Fort York Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge require further study. As part of this Environmental Assessment Study, there is no recommendation for Segment 3 (South) from Abell Street to King Street West. Further study and consultation is needed to develop a viable route for this challenging segment and section 7.6 describes the challenges in the evaluation of the alternative solutions. The alternative solutions requiring further study are also highlighted in grey below.
The preferred route is outlined in the table below and is further described in Section 7 of the report. The number of each solution corresponds to how it was shown to the public and is listed in Section 7.5.
Achievable in short -term refers that short term solutions will be implemented in less than five years.
Short/Medium/Long -Term Solutions for Implementation of West Toronto Railpath Extension
|Alternative Solutions||Short/Medium/Long Term|
|Solution 1B (North Segment) Dundas Street West to Lansdowne Avenue – In the rail corridor (part of “Dream Trail”)||Achievable in the short-term|
|Solution 2B (Centre Segment): Lansdowne Avenue to Dufferin Street – In the rail corridor (part of “Dream Trail”)||Achievable in the short-term|
|Solution 3.1B (South Segment): Dufferin Street to Abell Street – Adjacent to rail corridor (part of “Dream Trail”)||Achievable in the short-term|
|Solution 3.2B (South Segment): Abell Street to King Street West – Adjacent to the rail corridor (part of “Dream Trail”)||Further Study needed|
|Solution 3.2C (South Segment): Sudbury Street from Abell Street to King Street West||Further Study needed|
|Solution 3.3B (South Segment): King Street West to Fort York Ped and Bicycle Bridge – Adjacent to the rail corridor (part of “Dream Trail”)||Further Study needed|
|Solution 3.3C (South Segment): King Street West to Fort York Ped and Bicycle Bridge along King Street West/Douro Street/Wellington Street West||Further Study needed|
|Solution 3.3D (South Segment): King Street West to Fort York Ped and Bicycle Bridge along King Street West/Shaw Street/Douro Street/Wellington Street West||Further Study needed|
For the achievable solutions listed above, figure 7-2 provides a map of the Preferred Alternative Solutions and section 7.9 describes design concepts (e.g. different cycling and pedestrian facility types) that could be implemented as part of the WTR route. Design concepts will be further defined upon completion of this Study.
Section 7 also provides a preliminary set of commitments to be adhered to during detailed design, construction and/or post construction. These commitments relate to the protection of natural features, archaeological and cultural heritage resources, and air quality, and provide for stormwater management, traffic management, post-construction monitoring and future consultation. If additional mitigation measures are noted during the detailed design phase, these will be captured as part of the construction tender documents.
Potential Environmental Effects and Mitigation Measures
Section 8.4 outlines the various facets of WTR implications as well as the recommended approaches to dealing with and solving these concerns. Divided into six subsections which highlight the environmental effects and required mitigation measures related to the:
- Natural environment, including vegetation, wildlife, fish habitat and aquatic ecosystems, surface water, groundwater and drainage/stormwater;
- Social and cultural environments, including noise, vibration, air quality and archaeological and built heritage features; and the
- Transportation environment, including traffic and transit operations and surface and subsurface utilities.
Implementation of the mitigation measures described in this MCEA will make sure that short-term disturbances are managed by the best available methods. As described in section 6.4.1 of this report, the significant construction and development activities in the rail corridor and lack of access to private property components both suggest and necessitate possible impacts be further assessed during the detailed design and implementation phases.
Next Steps – Environmental Study Report and Part II Orders
Environmental Study Report (ESR) is defined as the documentation for a specific project planned in accordance with the procedures for Schedule C projects, setting out the planning and decision-making process, including consultation practices, which has been followed to arrive at the preferred solution. The ESR also sets out the mitigating measures proposed to avoid or minimize environmental impacts (MCEA, 2015).
As per the MCEA 2015 requirements, this ESR has been prepared to document the WTR Extension Schedule C MCEA project activities, correspondence and decision-making process up to and including Phase 4 of the MCEA process.
To view complete report, list of figures, tables and appendices contact Maogosha Pyjor at 416-338-2850 or email Maogosha.Pyjor@toronto.ca.
Multi-use Trail Alignment and Access
What will be the trail alignment for extending the Railpath?
A new multi-use trail will be aligned in the rail corridor from the Dundas Street Bridge to Queen Street West (east side of the railway corridor) and adjacent to the rail corridor from Queen Street West to Abell Street. South of Queen Street West, the lands in the rail corridor are more constrained due to Metrolinx’s railway track expansion plan and as a result a multi-use trail will be located within municipal road right-of-way.
There will be four new pedestrian-cycle bridges as part of the route including bridges over the Barrie GO rail corridor, Lansdowne Avenue, Brock Street and Queen Street West. As part of the Railpath Extension, a pedestrian-cycle bridge was built over Dufferin Street in 2016.
Where will access be provided to the Railpath?
The following access points have been identified during the course of the study (from north to south):
- Dundas St. W. and Sterling Road
- 222 Lansdowne Avenue (No Frills)
- Shirley Street
- Northern Place
- Clarens Avenue
- Delaney Crescent
- Brock Avenue (both east and west sides of street) – to be confirmed through design phase
- Dufferin Street (north of Queen St. W.)
- Sudbury Street (south of Queen St. W.)
What are the benefits of extending Railpath?
Multi-use trails are actively enjoyed by a wide range of users and are generally considered an attractive neighbourhood amenity. Trails provide a space for interaction with neighbours and increase access for people to discover natural, cultural and heritage places in the city.
Public places that are actively used by residents are generally regarded as safer and more comfortable for all ages – the most effective crime prevention approach is to encourage a high level of activity along the trail system. Trails support the opportunity for physical activity through walking, running, rollerblading and cycling which is in tune with the City’s public health objective to encourage physical activity to improve the health of Torontonians. Building trails that are high-quality and with accessible infrastructure also promotes social equality.
Will the trail include winter maintenance?
Yes. The Railpath is maintained by Parks Forestry and Recreation in the winter, including plowing, salting, and litter picking. Transportation Services maintains the bridges and Waste Management empties the receptacles year round.
Will the plan include additional by-law enforcement, e.g. to reduce off-leash dogs and cyclists riding too fast?
The City will continue to encourage safe and appropriate use of the Railpath Extension by including signs and pavement markings. Further efforts, such as public education campaigns and increased by-law enforcement, are beyond the scope of this conceptual design project, but recommendations for such efforts will be shared with appropriate City divisions.
What can be done to slow down cyclists on the trail?
City bylaw indicates a 20km/hr speed limit for trail users. Speed of trail users will be addressed through design and by using signage and pavement markings. Trail etiquette and awareness is a very important piece of managing this issue. Railpath Extension will include signage to help improve trail etiquette and communicate appropriate use.
Current Multi-use Trail Design Phase
What happens during detailed design?
Detailed design incudes refinement and finalization of the preferred trail design concept selected in the Environmental Study Report. This phase produces detailed design drawings including construction standards and specifications, Construction Management Plan, Environmental Monitoring Plan and Trail Operations and Maintenance Plan.
What is the general design for the West Toronto Railpath Extension?
The Railpath will be designed as a multi-use facility and will function as a shared space between a variety of different users including cyclists, pedestrians, rollerbladers etc. Generally, the paved portion of the trail will be 3.5 metres or wider, based on available space from Metrolinx Rail Corridor. The exact width of the trail needs to be determined and will be somewhat dictated by the space available within the rail corridor. The surface of the Railpath will be paved while bridges and other specialty structures will have a concrete or other durable hard surface that conforms to accessibility requirements. Street lighting and fencing will be installed similar to the earlier phase of the Railpath.
When will construction of the Railpath Extension take place?
Construction could potentially start in 2021 and is subject to available funding. Also, most of the Railpath extension is located within the Metrolinx owned rail corridor and construction requires coordination with Metrolinx and their planned construction for rail corridor widening.
Why hasn’t the Railpath Extension been built yet? What is taking so long?
There have been several technical challenges which this project needs to address including:
- negotiating a shared use land agreement with Metrolinx
- existing infrastructure particularly existing utilities and relocations of utilities
- negotiations with numerous private properties; and
- working with a long list of community stakeholders and three local councillors who have been a critical piece in this problem solving exercise and process
While the study and planning took more time than originally anticipated, we now have a preferred trail alignment that has been developed in consultation with various land owners including Metrolinx. As a result the Railpath Extension will be wider and will be retained within the rail corridor or immediately adjacent to the rail corridor up to Sudbury Street which would not be possible without the agreement with private landowners.
Has funding for the Railpath Extension been secured?
The detailed design for the West Toronto Railpath Extension is funded jointly by the Federal Government and the City of Toronto through the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund (PTIF). Funding for construction is not secured yet. The City is continuing to explore other opportunities for funding in collaboration with other levels of governments.
Is there a cost estimate for this project?
Based on the EA study which was completed in spring 2016, the estimated total cost is $23 million.
Will the Railpath be accessible for people with mobility issues and elderly users?
Wherever possible, the trail will be designed and built to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
What is the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)?
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) was enacted by the provincial government in 2005 to help make Ontario accessible to people with disabilities. This act lays the framework for the development of province-wide mandatory standards on accessibility in all areas of daily life. Visit AODA for more information.
Railpath plans between Queen Street West and Abell Street
What will Railpath look like between Queen Street West and Abell Street?
The Railpath extension will be located beside Sudbury Street within the current boulevard area. The trail extension may also require narrowing of the existing Sudbury Street and removal of some on-street parking. The design for Railpath Extension will also be coordinated with planned Smart Track Station near Sudbury Street and Abell Street.
What will happen to the existing green space on Sudbury Street between Queen Street West and Abell Street?
The existing green space is subject to Metrolinx’s rail corridor expansion plan and will also be used for Railpath extension. Design options will endeavor to maintain as much of this green space as possible.
Will the boulevard along Sudbury Street between Queen Street and Abell Street remain dog friendly?
We recognize that the boulevard is popular with dog-owners and it is rare to find this type of space within the neighbourhood. This area is subject to Metrolinx’s rail expansion plan and will be used for Railpath extension. Design options will be considered that maintain the existing dog-friendly boulevard and green space along Sudbury Street to the fullest extent possible.
What impacts will there be to trees?
Transportation Services will coordinate with the City Urban Forestry to determine and mitigate impacts to any trees along the proposed alignment.
Railpath plans between Abell Street and King Street West
Why are you stopping at Abell Street? Why don’t you just stick with the original proposal to route the Railpath (while not within the corridor) adjacent to the rail corridor in order to provide a continuous and seamless multi-use trail?
Given the lack of space within the rail corridor, technical issues and impacts to neighbouring properties, more consultation and study is needed to find a solution which lessens impacts and balances different interests.
What will be considered for the area south east of Abell Street?
The environmental assessment study did not recommend a preferred alignment for Railpath extension east of Abell Street between Queen Street West and King Street West. In order to find a solution to align Railpath south/east from Abell Street, the City consulted local residents and other stakeholders. The key concerns and comments were that while there is a lot of support for the project from residents and cyclists, there were many questions about how best to continue the trail to King Street West and then, how to pass over/across King Street West. There were requests for an area traffic study. There were also comments that shared lane markings (sharrows) for cyclists along Sudbury Street were not an acceptable interim option.
Currently, this particular area is experiencing many changes including new development applications, Metrolinx track expansion for Regional Express Rail and Electrification, new SmartTrack / GO RER station in the Liberty Village and King Street West area. As part of the above projects, the City, in coordination with Metrolinx, will work to include the Railpath extension south of Queen Street.
Environmental Assessment Phase (2013-2016)
What is an Environmental Assessment study?
An environmental assessment (commonly known as an EA) is a study required by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) to assess the potential positive or negative effects of a project on the environment. Social, cultural and economic aspects are also considered. Consultation with government agencies and the public is a key component.
What was the purpose of this study?
To determine a preferred alignment for the Railpath Extension from Dundas Street West to the Fort York Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge (now called Garrison Crossing).
What were the key issues that needed to be addressed in selecting a preferred Railpath alignment during the environmental assessment study?
- Crossing Dundas Street West from the north to the south (e.g. space below Dundas overpass, then bridge design on south side of bridge to cross tracks, bridge landing points, private property impacts)
- Addressing the limited space available within rail corridor between Dundas Street West and Queen Street West
- Proceeding south of Queen Street West where there is no space within the rail corridor to align the trail
What is an Environmental Study Report?
An Environmental Study Report (ESR) was prepared to document the West Toronto Railpath Extension Schedule C Municipal Class EA project activities, correspondence and decision-making process up to and including Phase 4 of the EA process. The ESR was prepared for public record and provided an opportunity for the public, review agencies, Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) and other project stakeholders to review the process.
Phases 1 to 4 of the Environmental Assessment process have now been completed:
- Phase 1 identified the study purpose (problem & opportunity within the study area) and set project objectives
- Phase 2 identified and evaluated alternative trail alignment options including community access points
- Phase 3 identified and evaluated alternative design concepts for the preliminary preferred route (solution)
- Phase 4 completed the Environmental Study Report (ESR)
- Phase 5 complete design and proceed to construction
When was the project approved by MOECC?
On May 17, 2016 the Minister of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) approved the West Toronto Railpath Extension Environmental Assessment study. The project is now moving in the implementation phase. The implementation phase (Phase 5) includes completion of detailed design, contract drawings and documents, followed by trail construction and operation with appropriate monitoring, as detailed in the Environmental Study Report.