New Subway – Bad Planning

                                                                By Errol Young

                     Long term resident, professional photography, former school trustee 


Over five years, millions of dollars were spent on the Keele Finch intersection and roadway but it misses the mark in essentially human ways: they have built a typical suburban nightmare made for cars and not people.

This week the new subway extension opened and local residents are ecstatic. We have been waiting for improved transit for over 20 years.

But the Keele Finch intersection itself is a planning disaster. If you are driving – great. If you are walking – you’re out of luck.  Pedestrians will be faced by a wind-swept expanse of concrete and asphalt.  Even the benches at the station entrance are cast from concrete, ensuring that people will not linger. You will not find a tree, a real park bench or any other non auto amenity to soften the landscape and invite pedestrian traffic.

A neighbourhood should be defined by the quality of its walkability.  At Keele and Finch asphalt will radiate the sun’s heat under our feet on both sides of the curb inviting us to get through the intersection as soon as possible.

Children will have to navigate several lanes of traffic to get to their three elementary schools to the south.

There is no bike infrastructure. How can there be no bike infrastructure? Planners understand that bicycles are an important part of transportation as we have to move away from cars.  Even if there was a bare minimum of bicycle accommodation in the newly built two kilometre stretch of Keele St., it could eventually be linked up with the city-wide system.

As for green space, half a kilometre to the south, you will find identical trees lining the road like uniformed Lego security guards, guarding the roadway. Surely an effort could have been made to create an urban forest with a variety of species and groupings.

Try this in Rosedale or the Annex and you will not get re-elected.  Thanks to the suburban mentality that planned this we are stuck with this auto-centric, suburban desert for the next 75 years.

Enjoy your drive through our neighbourhood.

          Tanker Trucks over the subway box could be dangerous

Our community finally has new subway station at Keele and Finch. Everyone is happy about that but Toronto councillors and planning staff have also created a deadly problem. Huge tanker trucks will be travelling over the subway route, near stations, carrying tons of deadly cargo.

It took over twenty years of advocacy to convince the city that stations in the North end of the city will eliminate the need for thousands of buses taking staff and students to and from York University. For our community, the ride downtown will be cut by about half an hour or even more depending on the time of day.

In order to ensure support of the subway route by the petrochemical tank farm (located to the North East of the Finch West station), the TTC made a bad and potentially dangerous bargain.  They agreed to let super tankers each carrying around 65,000 litres of explosive gasoline travel over the subway line for two kilometres, including the York West Subway/LRT stations. In 2010, Council passed an exemption to the 1950s by-law that restricted tankers from travelling over a subway route for more than 2 kilometres; i.e.,  Pond Rd. to St. Regis.

The original by-law was well thought out. Councillors in the 1950s had vision. Picture a crash involving two supertankers above the intersection of Keele and Finch. Both trucks would probably burst into flames as tonnes of flammable liquid and vapours spill from the trailers and down the subway vent holes. If this happened over the station —well its not worth imagining.

TTC says that the risk is remote and acceptable. Granted, it is remotebut acceptable ?  If you are a regular transit user, the image of 65,000 litres of flammable liquid above your head racing down Keele Street at 65 kilometers per hour, in the control of, a texting or fatigued driver, might not appear acceptable. Consider the recent accident on highway 400 where intense heat devoured the road.

One easy way to reduce this risk and make this scenario even more remote and almost impossiblewould be to reroute the trucks. But according to Theresa Buck Construction Liaison Officer for the Toronto York Spadina Subway Extension Project, “There was … extensive public consultation and review of the design plans for Finch West Station with the community.”  But this issue was never fully addressed at those meetings.