Second Donlands subway stop exit done deal
From Monday’s Globe and Mail
Published Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011 10:57PM EST
Last updated Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011 10:30AM EST
The train has left the station on a controversial Toronto Transit Commission plan to build a second exit from the Donlands subway stop on a quiet residential street, upsetting homeowners who pushed hard for a compromise and thought they were getting somewhere.
Despite months of discussions and a consultant’s study that pointed to several less-disruptive locations, TTC officials have settled on the same plan that prompted the outcry in the first place – to raze two homes on Strathmore Boulevard and partially expropriate another 10 properties to make way for the exit.
The $8-million project, to begin in 2013 and take about two years, is meant to improve emergency safety at Donlands Station, one of several single-exit subway stops slated for the measure.
“We looked at a whole range of options and all the issues that come with them to try and find a way to not have to take these two houses,” TTC spokesman Brad Ross said in an interview Sunday. “Unfortunately we were unable to come up with one because of various constructability issues, engineering issues and ultimately, cost.”
Lisa Dymond, a Strathmore Boulevard homeowner who mobilized neighbours after they received a form letter last June announcing the plan as more or less a done deal, said the TTC’s reversion to it makes a sham of the public consultations it has since held.
“We tried to be pretty reasonable about it and to work with the TTC … but we really feel like we’ve been taken advantage of,” said Ms. Dymond, who stands to lose part of her front yard. She said residents, along with private consultants hired by the TTC at undisclosed cost, came up with more than a dozen alternative sites, most of them less intrusive than the original one.
“They hired and paid all this money for this external report, which they’re not even using,” she said. “If you want to talk about a complete waste of taxpayers’ money, that’s a clear example.”
Mr. Ross said the consultations were genuine, but in the end, most sites proved technically unworkable or unable to meet the TTC’s requirement, which he called an “industry standard,” that passengers be able to get from the subway platform to street level within two minutes in an emergency. The residents’ preferred plan, to put the exit just south of Strathmore along Dewhurst Avenue, would not have achieved this, he said.
“We can’t compromise on safety and we won’t compromise on safety,” Mr. Ross said.
Ms. Dymond pointed to Spadina Station, which has a long tunnel where “you can get lost forever” but is not slated for improvement, as evidence the TTC applies its standards unevenly.
“One of the challenges we’ve had in working with them is that there are always very clear inconsistencies,” she said, adding that the two-minute rule is not a legal requirement. “If you want to make stations safer, fine; but the question that has to be asked is if this is the best use of public money, when it’s also going to be so detrimental to a community.”
Ms. Dymond said she will continue to push the TTC, and possibly Mayor Rob Ford, for a solution more amenable to residents.