TTC no longer threatening to annex 11 homes for Scarborough subway extension
The TTC says it no longer needs to take over properties near McCowan Rd. and Ellesmere Rd. for a construction site.
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Residents in the path of the Scarborough subway extension are no longer in danger of losing their homes.
The TTC sent notices to about a dozen property owners near the intersection of McCowan Rd. and Ellesmere Rd. last week, alerting them that their land would no longer be required to make way for a construction staging site for the controversial transit project.
In May, the TTC told residents of 11 homes on Stanwell Dr. that their properties might need to be expropriated for a tunnel staging site. A further 23 properties were facing partial expropriation.
Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker (Ward 38, Scarborough Centre) said he was “thrilled” by the TTC’s decision, and declared that the transit agency had “avoided a huge mistake.”
“I wish that these proposals were not put on the table in the first place,” said De Baeremaeker, who is a vocal supporter of the one-stop subway extension to the Scarborough Town Centre. “So I do tip my hat and congratulate the TTC staff for actually listening to the public.”
Among those who had been facing the loss of his home was Vivek Bhatt, who has lived on Stanwell since 2002. He had been girding for a fight with the TTC, but despite the reversal, he’s still upset with the transit agency. In an interview he said the TTC should never have considered forcing residents out of their homes, especially if there was a viable alternative.
“When something was not supposed to be done in the first place . . . and you retract it, of course there is some sort of relief,” said Bhatt. “But there is also anger.”
Bhatt charged that planning for the subway had been “haphazard” and that residents were not adequately consulted.
TTC spokesperson Brad Ross countered that description, writing in an email that the transit agency “has been very proactive in its communications with residents.”
He said the TTC had written directly to residents before releasing information about the project to the wider public, conducted one-on-one meetings, and ensured that locals “were always the first to know, even when we were unsure of whether we'd require their properties.”
“We wanted residents to hear from us first so we could answer their questions directly and help explain the type of impacts they might be facing,” he said.
The transit agency had originally planned to set up two construction sites, one near the Scarborough Town Centre and another in the vicinity of Ellesmere and McCowan.
The location for the 10,000-square-metre Ellesmere and McCowan site was never finalized, but in correspondence to residents earlier this year, the TTC outlined five potential spots. All provoked pushback from the community because they would have required either expropriations, or leveling part of the historic Frank Faubert Woodlot.
In July council voted to remove the woodlot from consideration as a construction site.
The TTC is now planning to consolidate its work sites at a single location, in the parking lot to the east of the Town Centre on either side of Triton Rd.
According to Ross, the agency changed its plans after conducting a “value engineering review” in September and determining “that the new site would achieve tunnel construction logistics requirements with reduced property impacts.” He said the TTC doesn’t anticipate significant additional costs or delays associated with the new construction plan.
He didn’t rule out the possibility that some properties near the project might need to be expropriated, however. “Property impacts will be updated for the next report to Toronto city council,” he wrote.
Council reaffirmed its commitment to the six-kilometre subway extension in July, favouring it over a plan to build a cheaper seven-stop LRT. The extension is estimated to cost at least $3.2 billion, but that figure is expected to rise.
Council has yet to approve a final route for the subway. An update on the plan is expected to go to the TTC board and Mayor John Tory’s executive committee in January.