West LRT, part iv, the Scott/Byron route

The Scott Byron route starts at Bayview and re-uses the Scott corridor transitway trench to Dominion Station. It uses a toenail of the parkway until it can swing inland at Rochester Field, near the Kegg Manor and gardens. At some point, it would cease being a surface rail line and become cut and cover along the Byron right of way.

It is important to notice that the Byron option does not necessitate cut and cover through the dog-walk greenspace that used to be the streetcar right of way. It might be cut and cover under Richmond Road, or under Byron Avenue itself. Byron could certainly use a major re-think, it now functions too much like parallel lanes to Richmond. Better to cut it into several sections to reduce through car traffic, but perhaps keep it open for through cycling mixed with slow car traffic accessing a few streets (“a bicycle boulevard”)(see, for example, Echo Drive east of Bank). It would also be good to re-think how many roads cut through the Byron path — certainly this is a big issue somewhat east at the Our Lady of the Condos development. At no time did the consultants suggest that Byron would be an open cut like Scott; the adjacent neighborhood is way to affluent for that.

An alternative routing would bring the LRT north at Churchill, then west at Richmond. The sharp turns here would necessitate taking out (and possibly replacing…) the bank building at the corner of Churchill and Richmond Road. One reason to do this sharp jog is to bring transit service to the expanded MEC the commercial main street. However, a station in this area might be difficult to serve as a bus transfer point, unless it was located just a few meters west of Golden Avenue, at the location of a … former transfer point to the streetcar and bus turnaround loop. (Sometimes LRT planning seems to be destined to re-create what council threw away before …). These sharp turns and then Golden Station would mean slow trains for some blocks, adding time to the journey.

Further west, the Richmond road LRT service would have a station at Cleary (intensification site) and McEwen/Ambleside (existing high density node, with more to come). There are two options shown for accessing the Lincoln Fields approaches: the “laneway” option uses a short bit of former street car right of way between Richmond and Ambleside III (remember, the LRT is underground here, not visible). Both of these Richmond options permit direct access into the existing Lincoln Fields station with few changes in layout as the station was designed to align with Richmond. This permits re-use of most of the bus transfer facility; and direct connection to intensification on properties to the immediate west (current mall site, etc).

Or, the LRT could turn up Woodroffe or another side street to visit Carlingwood, which is also an intensification node, and then go west along Carling. This option might not be able to reuse the Lincoln Fields station and would require extensive and new facilities.


The city planning staff and the consultants are open to ideas and feedback. They seem well intentioned and intelligent. One reason they presented these options last week to community groups, business owner groups, and agency groups (ie NCC, Agric Canada, Health Canada, etc) is to find out items they overlooked, minefields they might have wandered into, and what concepts remain unclear, before their public meeting on these options Nov 29th at Tom Brown Arena. There will be an open house starting at 5.30; a presentation at 7pm.

At the presentation last week, it struck me that they had missed one option, call it the “Loblaws route”. This would run from Bayview Station to Tunney’s to Westboro Station along the trench, servicing that major employment centre and the redevelopment sites along Scott. However, just before Westboro Station, I would swing the LRT south along McRae and the Tweedsmuir hydro right of way (pictures below). There is room for a generous high speed curve here. Then there would be a station (replacing Westboro station) under McRae. Above it would be the Westboro Collection transit-oriented-development already proposed for that site (albeit a bit off the radar right now). One station exit would be on the wide sidewalk in front of Loblaws. This puts a station on Richmond Road just a short block from the 101-111 Richmond condos, the convent site condos, and the Banknote building condos (I believe that site is already owned by a condo developer awaiting the right moment…). It would also be an easy walk from condos proposed at Island Park and Richmond; and for any that might pop up just to the west of Loblaws (the back of the Loblaws parking lot is already zoned residential, and the LCBO is an urban embarrassment, it should have been the ground floor of a condo, and then there is the sad little hotel and gas station just a few meters further west — yes condomania has lots of room to spread here).

The consultants pointed out that my fantasy station was no closer than the Westboro station, and it isn’t, IF radii are drawn on maps; but on the ground, the subjective distance is vastly different. Condo dwellers are seeking the ambiance of the mainstreet, a stroll along shops and past Bridgehead to the local subway stop, or popping into Loblaws for something on the way home. This is rather a different experience from zigzagging through low-density residential streets to get to an isolated Westboro Station. The McRae station would still be  close enough to Scott Street developments and the CBC Lanark Avenue redevelopments.

Putting a LRT station at Loblaws would also water the grocery desert in neighborhoods to the east. This Loblaws would become an easy LRT ride from downtown condos, LeBreton Flats, and Bayview areas. Transit has a way of changing distances: residents near Bayview and Carleton residences already take the Otrain to South Keys to get groceries (short smooth ride, direct to Loblaws there).

From McRae, the LRT line would swing west. It might be possible to swing it under Richmond Road, but I prefer taking it under the Loblaws parking lot in a gentle curve under Byron, and turning west there. Run it under the street to the station at Golden, then Cleary, McEwen, and thence Lincoln Fields. This gives the western LRT two stations on the Richmond Road traditional mainstreet and two under the more suburban highway-commercial strip along McKellar Park (itself a former farm turned golf course turned housing subdivision). I suspect this route, shorter than the Carling option, will serve as many intensification sites and walk-ins as the Carling route.

Above: looking west along the Scott transitway. Westboro station is where the bus is; Trailhead and then the Hydro corridor and McRae is on the left.

Above: view up the McRae and Hydro corridor towards the south and Loblaws. The corridor is wide; the Westboro Collection transit oriented development has been proposed for both sides of McRae which are in one ownership.

From Loblaws, looking north towards Scott. The parking lot for the grocery store occupies some of the Hydro right of way. The LRT here would be underground.

13 thoughts on “West LRT, part iv, the Scott/Byron route

  1. Wow Eric, you’ve been busy posting. Now that I’ve read the transit posts, here are my thoughts:
    If the LRT runs along the river, I would suggest using the river side for LRT, then having the inner side directional for rush hour and one lane in each direction in off peak hours. That should keep the commuters who still drive happy.
    I like the idea of moving Westboro Station to Churchill/Richmond.
    Not a big fan of Carling Avenue route because it’s not a pedestrian area. There are many more stores that I walk to along Richmond than along Carling (with the exception of Canadian Tire).
    And thanks for the info about the Canadian Bank Note. I didn’t realize it had been bought by a developer. I’d love to see them incorporate parts of the original building when it’s developed.

    1. I agree with your sentiments about Canadian Bank Note. It would be great to incorporate some of the facade in a new development.

  2. Counclilor Leadman already tried to close Golden between Richmond and Byron to expand the greenspace, and the residents objected strongly to that. They don’t want all the Richmond-to-Byron traffic to be concentrated in a handful of crossings.

    Nosyneighbour – Westboro wasn’t really much of a pedestrian neighbourhood until the superstore and MEC came around in 2004, and the street was subsequently rebuilt. Condos are starting to pop up on Carling, and there are hundreds of millions of dollars of development potential on Carling avenue that would be encouraged by a rail line along Carling. The parkway is a protected corridor and therefore zero development will happen if the LRT goes that route.

    1. What do you mean Westboro wasn’t much of a pedestrian neighbourhood before 2004? I recall from back in the 1980s that it had a grocer’s, a fishmonger, hardware stores, cobbler, pharmacy, banks, etc. It essentially had everything one needed to live a largely pedestrian existence. All but the grocer survived through the 1990s, only to be done in when Westboro allegedly became pedestrian by high rents that followed Westboro’s transformation to an outdoor equipment retail zone. Granted, it all looked a bit shabby, but that’s independent of it being pedestrian.

      The Golden issue was far more complicated than an attempt to expand greenspace. It was also an attempt to avoid Golden south of Byron from becoming the main route to Carling for residents of the new condos. Residents on Broadview and Roosevelt objected as they would then bear the brunt of it instead. Personally, I think Golden across the Byron corridor should be relocated half a block to the west (and given a new name), so it lands halfway between Golden and Brierwood. This would distribute traffic between Brierwood and Golden while not markedly increasing it on Roosevelt and Broadview. On the Richmond Rd side, it would line up with the road access to the apartment blocks and Rogers on the north side of Richmond. The space between the condo and the new street would then be available as a semi-traditional square that could be used for Westfest, a farmers’ market, etc.

      1. Brierwood is much narrower than Golden and cannot handle the additional traffic. Also, cars would be more likely to turn off Parr onto Brierwwood when coming up from Carling, giving that narrow street a higher proportion of the thru traffic.

        A better option is to close the Golden cut and the Roosevelt cut, and have all through traffic go up Churchill and Broadview.

  3. Looks like they’re missing the ORP-Cleary-Richmond/Byron option(s). That option avoids a good 700 m of the Richmond-Byron corridor, including the most residential part of it where no station will be going anyway.

  4. I like your McRae/Byron option but realistically I think the ORP option where two of the lanes are replaced with the LRT is probably the cheepest option, and IMO isn’t that bad. The stations at Cleary and New Orchard should be positioned though as close as possible to the residencial area. I would be afraid that once the ORP path is selected (primarily due to budget considerations) they will do what they have always done before: put the stations in splendid isolation in the middle of a field and then plant trees to hide it from sight. If the ORP is slected they need to put the stations only steps away from the condos and appartments. if that means a few mature trees have to be cut, I would sacrifice those trees to reduce the distance people need to walk.

  5. I think this alignment does the best job of supporting the growth along both Scott Street and Richmond Road. Lots of new condos within 2 or 3 blocks of a station entrance should help to drive the LRT modal share.

    If a Richmond alignment is chosen then this one gets my vote. And if Carling is chosen then I’d love to see a variation on this path, continuing south in the hydro r.o.w. to Carling.

  6. Could someone tell me where there are condos on Carling? We drove from Carlingwood to Preston, and I saw a few buildings at Carling, then nothing until you reach the new Domicile development at the bottom of the hill near Preston.
    On the other hand, along the Wellington/Richmond corridor, there’s 101 Richmond, 111 Richmond, the convent site, Westboro Station, etc.

    1. Nosyneighbour – that’s the point. Richmond is already getting developments. Carling only has them near the O-Train. If you put light rail down Carling, you will stimulate tremendous amounts of growth along that corridor.

  7. NoseyNeighbour: glad you are interested and reading up on the options. I think Carling has tremendous potential for redevelopment and intensification. A number of blocks along the street are still 1950-60’s era old buildings, some with low-value uses, and there are a number of mini-malls/plazas. Some of these lots could become office uses, some residential. Take, for example, Fairlawn Plaza or Westgate Mall, both could easily support a number of mid or high rise buildings, with the parking lot on ground and below ground level lots. The malls could be kept for a time, then slowly replaced by new stores in the new buildings.
    Its very much ecological succession the same way as a empty lot grows weeds, then trees, and eventually the climax growth is the desirable hardwoods, etc.
    Along Carling there are car lots and other properties that could be redeveloped. The new Canadian Tire is an very urban format (underground parking, some store frontages on the sidewalk), and the little mall across the street is also a candidate for sprouting some office, commercial, and residential uses. These new uses don’t appear all at once, the LRT kick-starts the process. Instead of redevelopment that takes a neighborhood downhill, the idea is for urban intensification that slowly and surely shifts from an auto-oriented strip to a more pedestrian and transit friendly form.

    My main concern is whether it could ever actually become ped friendly with the volume of traffic on the street. However, note that big cities like Toronto don’t have all their arterials in pre-1970 neighborhoods all widened out to eight or ten lanes. Car congestion becomes accepted, alternate forms of transportation to the car — like walking, transit, cycling, locating your residence close to attractions — become the choice of a higher percentage of the population. The trick, as I see it, is to get to the density where people can live mostly car free, where walking and transit are attractive options, and those who use the car don’t dominate the landscape to the detriment of the other citizens. That’s one reason I hope the major intensifications occur at places like Westgate where there could be a critical mass of shopping/housing/offices all in one package, very attractive to seniors and starting-out households. I am conerned that a lot of small-lot redevelopments along Carling would result in a continued auto-dependent type of development which will simply increase traffic congestion and render the housing along Carling unpleasant.

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