The City and NCC have come up with a revised connection of the Western LRT and Richmond Road corridor.
But I don’t think it is complete enough, yet. Just like a complete street is better than just a road, the Cleary Station deserves more than just being another boarding platform for our streetcar-service-in-a-pipe.
There is a huge place creating opportunity here, slipping through our fingers, waving goodbye, to paraphrase ABBA.
Let’s start with the glazed entry pavilion at the Richmond Road edge. It will replace a plain but functioning strip mall that has parking along the front. It epitomizes 60’s and 70’s mindset that puts parking first. It is actively hostile to pedestrians and cyclists. It discourages impulse shopping, “dropping in” and human contact. It is a great social spot for giant metal beetles needing temporary storage, but that’s it.
We know the City dreams of empty lobby spaces for its LRT Stations, but with this station pavilion right on the edge of the Road, it should have some strong retail presence. Other cities even offer discounted or even free rent for retail spaces in stations on the condition the florist or coffee shop is open long hours, animating a space that could become dead-ish or isolated feeling at off-peak hours. So the business pays social rent rather than monetary rent. And if we are afraid of “concessionary” rent, paper it over by letting it out to a social agency to run some sort of social business. So let’s animate that sidewalk and not let our city-building structure be a dead zone along a street that already has too many of them.
It needs to be an architectural beacon along the blah road that signals to everyone that “here is transit” (since the rest of the system is sewerized and invisible).
And lets put some strong pedestrian-first infrastructure in place right from the beginning, instead of yet another signalized intersection with peds squeezed into the awkward leftover spaces.
I regularly attend lunch meetings held at Kristy’s Resto nearby. It has some nice features, including south windows. And the view — it’s WOW, cars going by on Richmond Road. Golly gee, what a destination view.
Now imagine that restaurant, or another, but not a Beckta-class eatery, at the other end of the Station, in the above ground concourse planned for the parkway end. And I’ll be really bold and upset the McKeller NIMBY’s by suggesting it have NO PARKING at all. Walk in, bike in, or take transit. Imagine, a river view for the rest of us who don’t have friends in condos with river views who are willing to feed us.
I’d gladly go there. Often. And I’ll bet others will too.
The City has argued the LRT will improve access for the general population to the riverfront park lands. The NCC agrees. The station will have access to the waterfront if I recall correctly. A waterfront that won’t have restaurants, pizza, or a coffee shop let alone a bier garten … at least not in this zone. So this is our one big opportunity to put some urban amenity on this urban parkland and let city dwellers enjoy a nice landscape whilst seated at lunch instead of seated in a commuting car. And it offers welcome functionality to the more active uses of the parkland too.
Personally, I go way more often to eat at Westboro Beach than to swim. But the swimmers and beach goers eat too. Imagine, multifunctional space!
Tonight, 6pm, at Notre Dame HS on Broadview, with presentation at 7.30pm, there will be an info session on Cleary Station. I dunno if it is a “information only session” that tells us what they are going to do to us, without listening back. But it is one of the few chances to talk back, to tell the city and NCC to do better.
This station is Clearly a unique opportunity for placemaking.