The PATH network is an integral part of the City of Toronto’s downtown core. The Northwest PATH (NW PATH) aims to extend the network to better service projected future growth. The project will be evaluated through the development of a Class C Environmental Assessment (EA) Addendum, which will focus on the following:

  • Providing a connection to the northwest core that relieves congestion in the existing PATH network and surface congestion around Union Station
  • Improving connections to destinations
  • Reducing pedestrian travel times
  • Supporting future growth


  • 2008: EA completed for the construction of the NW PATH tunnel from Union Station, under Front Street, travelling north along York Street to Wellington Street.
  • 2015: Phase 1 of NW PATH extension officially opens. Due to construction complexity and escalating costs, City Council suspends construction of Phase 2, directing staff to consider alternative alignments for a more cost effective solution, requiring an Addendum to the original EA.
  • 2017-18: NW PATH EA Addendum begins in January 2017 and will continue through 2018.

Next Steps

The recommended alignment will be presented to Toronto’s City Council in 2018. With Council approval, the Class EA Addendum will be submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) and a 30-day public review will be carried out, before moving to final design and construction procurement.

After the public review, and along with the completion of a detailed design, construction procurement, and coordination with the Major Capital Infrastructure Coordination Office schedule for downtown, construction is forecasted to start in 2021.

As part of the EA Addendum, the City has completed a comparative evaluation of four alternative NW PATH alignments that are illustrated in Figure 4 and described below.

Map showing the four alignment options for the extension of the northwest PATH.
FIGURE 4: NW PATH Alignment Options

 

Four alternative NW PATH alignments were considered:

  • Alignment 1/York Street is the 2008 EA approved York Street alignment. It connects through the north side of the existing tunnel at the corner of University Avenue and Front Street, and continues north under York Street to connect into the PATH concourse at 100 Wellington Street West.
  • Alignment 2/Front Street branches off to the west of the existing NW PATH Phase 1 tunnel, crossing over the TTC subway structure, and running west under the north-side of Front Street. It connects into a new development at 160 Front Street West.
  • Alignment 3/Building Alignment branches to the east of the existing NW PATH Phase 1 tunnel entering the Royal York Hotel concourse level. It turns north creating a new PATH tunnel connection across Piper Street to connect into 95 Wellington Street.
  • Alignment 4/University (Parking Lot) branches off to the west of the existing NW PATH Phase 1 tunnel, crosses over the TTC subway, and then heads north underneath University Avenue through a partially repurposed underground parking lot. The alignment connects to the existing PATH network at 55 University Avenue.

As part of the EA Addendum process, the City of Toronto’s dynamic microsimulation pedestrian model of Union Station (see Figure 5), the PATH system, and the local street network was updated and expanded to include the four alternative NW PATH alignments.

Image showing the flow of pedestrian traffic around the York side of Union Station during the morning rush.
Figure 5 – A snapshot of the Union Station and surrounding area AM-peak hour pedestrian microsimulation model

 

The pedestrian model provides an understanding of pedestrian movements in the area and tests the alignments from a capacity and user amenity perspective. The model provides information considered in the evaluation of alternative alignments including passenger use and flow capacity for each alignment, congestion for passengers using each route, and journey cost. Network-level analysis has also been undertaken to determine the number of jobs that can be accessed using the PATH system (see Figure 6). All four options provide pedestrian amenity benefits and help to reduce projected pedestrian congestion at key surface intersections north of Union Station.

Map showing the number of jobs that can be accessed using the PATH system.
FIGURE 6: Representation of job catchment area for each alignment

 

The following summarizes the pedestrian analysis:

  • Alignment 1/York Street provides a high number of projected peak hour movements northbound from Union Station due to its central alignment and provides some additional connectivity to jobs.
  • Alignment 2/Front Street provides modest projected peak hour movements but unlocks additional network to the west of the City.
  • Alignment 3/Building Alignment provides the lowest direct number of projected peak hour movements and limited network accessibility, but does make some employment areas more accessible in a short walk from Union Station.
  • Alignment 4/University (Parking Lot) provides similar northbound projected peak hour movements to Alignment 1 and includes additional southbound movements, as well as significant access to jobs to the north of the City. In this sense, Alignment 4 provides the highest range of benefits from a pedestrian perspective.

Consultation is integral to the environmental assessment process and to the evaluation of the alignment options. Input from the public is key in identifying a recommended preferred alignment.

To date, the NW PATH consultation has included:

  • Meetings with impacted landowners;
  • Public Information Centres;
  • Third-party stakeholders, groups and partners
  • three pop-up information centres held at Union Station, in the PATH at Royal Bank Plaza and in the PATH at Metro Centre.

The Online Feedback Survey is now closed. All input received during consultation will be considered and included along with the technical work in the EA Addendum.

The NW PATH EA Addendum maintains as much consistency as possible with the original 2008 EA in terms of the evaluation criteria used to compare alignments, while also updating technical assumptions, considerations, and costing, to reflect the changing local context in the last 10 years. The criteria used to assess the alignments both quantitatively (i.e., engineering investigation, pedestrian modelling, and costing) and qualitatively (i.e. policy fit) evaluates the alignments through an evaluation matrix.

Table 1 lists the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative alignment. For more detailed information on the evaluation of each alternative, please review the evaluation matrix.

Table 1. Advantages and disadvantages of each of the four alternative alignments.

 

Advantages Disadvantages
Alignment #1/York Street
  • No escalator or elevator needed
  • Strong pedestrian demand for new tunnel
  • Most expensive option
  • Requires temporary lane closures on Front Street and York Street
  • Longest length of utility conflicts (i.e., sewer, hydro, gas, etc.) of all alignments (1,450 m); tied with Alignment #2 for the most major utility conflicts (six in total).
  • Requires reconstruction of TTC streetcar tracks on Wellington
  • No retail opportunities
  • Requires foundation support for the Toronto Club
Alignment #2/Front Street
  • Least impact to existing buildings
  • Direct connection to the western PATH network
  • Excellent connection to jobs
  • No escalator or elevator needed
  • 2nd longest length of utility conflicts (1,047 m); tied with Alignment #1 for the most major utility conflicts (six in total).
  • Highly disruptive cut-and-cover surface construction on major roads, requiring temporary lane closures on University Avenue & Front Street
  • Retail space very difficult and expensive to construct
  • Very long tunnel with little animation opportunities
Alignment #3/Building Alignment
  • Lowest cost option
  • Good pedestrian animation
  • Fewest construction impacts at surface
  • Minimal heavy construction and utility disruptions to road users – shortest length of utility conflicts of all alignments (148 m), and only one major conflict.
  • Does not provide a new PATH connection and offers inadequate service to the existing PATH network and north-west core
  • Requires elevator and/or escalator
  • Significant disruption and modification to the existing buildings
  • Narrow route in places (3.2 m width) may impact pedestrian flows
  • Requires reconstruction of TTC streetcar tracks on Wellington
  • Requires agreements with multiple landowners
Alignment #4/University (Parking Lot)
  • Best balance of performance and cost
  • Widest & tallest tunnel
  • Provides strong pedestrian connectivity and animation opportunities
  • Strong pedestrian demand for new tunnel
  • Direct north and west PATH network connections
  • New city-owned retail opportunities (approximately 4,300 sq. ft.)
  • Excellent connection to jobs
  • New elevator makes parking lot barrier-free (AODA compliant)
  • Requires temporary lane closures on University Avenue.
  • Extension connects to both levels of the existing underground parking lot that will continue to operate, but it reduces lot capacity by approximately 185 parking spaces Structural rehabilitation and modification of parking lot required
  • Moderate utility conflicts – 3rd for length of conflicts (580 m) and four major conflicts.

 

Figure 4

Map showing the four alignment options for the extension of the northwest PATH.
FIGURE 4: NW PATH Alignment Options

 

Minimizing the disruption to those who use the PATH, travel the surface routes, live, and work in the area is important to the City. Where possible, construction will occur in existing underground structures or under decking to reduce surface disruption and all construction will be coordinated with any other major downtown infrastructure work that is planned.

Through an online survey, which is now closed, the City asked for public input on the evaluation, recommended alignment, and any potential concerns you have regarding construction.