February 27, 2006
Streetcar line paves way for more projects
TTC project gains approval despite neighbours’ protests
Another eleven right-of-way Toronto transit projects are out of limbo and back on track following a court ruling that the controversial St. Clair Avenue West streetcar route can go ahead despite local objections.
“We’re back in business,” declared a triumphant Councillor Joe Mihevc, also vice-chair of the TTC and a long-time champion of the right-of-way despite violent opposition from many of his constituents. His colleague, TTC chairman Howard Moscoe, said it could be the first step in a light rail streetcar line which may eventually extend westward into Mississauga.
In a 20-page decision last week, the Ontario Superior Court unanimously ruled the city has the authority to built a $65-million right-of-way along a 6.7 km route on St. Clair from Yonge Street to the Guns Road loop. A panel last year ruled against the city on narrow technical grounds and construction, which had already started on the St. Clair Ave. West station, was halted.
However, a new panel was convened when one of the original judges, Ted Matlow, was found to have a potential conflict.
“We’re just waiting for the thaw to get going again, though there is a window for appeal, but we believe the ruling is so tightly written there are no reasonable grounds,” said Mihevc.
Margaret Smith of Save Our St. Clair (SOS), a resident and merchant group opposed to the 15-cm curbs which will prevent vehicle traffic from crossing the tracks except at designated intersections, said they are still mulling their next step. Mihevc has hinted the city may back off demands for full legal costs if SOS drops its opposition.
The configuration would be similar to the Spadina Ave. right-of-way and Moscoe says St. Clair was chosen because it is a wide avenue and can support the dedicate rails protected by raised curbs.
“We could appeal and we could also organize for the next municipal election in November,” she said. “David Miller got elected when he promised to undo the fixed link to the airport and that’s something we can make as an issue here.”
However, Moscoe said construction will begin again almost as soon as winter breaks. The TTC has already let the contract for the St. Clair station and has opened tenders but not announced the winning bid in another related contract since the initial injuction stopped all progress last year. A third contract to redesign access to Bathurst St. station will be put up for tender soon.
Currently, rails and other construction materials are piled on St. Clair West, tarped and abandoned after the first injunction.
Next on deck will be a design bid for the right-of-way along the Allen Road and across hydro fields to York University, followed by a ROW along Don Mills Road and Kingston Road.
Moscoe said an ongoing environmental assessment on the Scarlett Road bridge will also consider the benefits of rebuilding it to allow streetcars to pass underneath, giving the Red Rocket to link to Dundas Street West and on to Mississauga.
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