Plans for the Waterfront West LRT route.

Lakeshore LRT plan hits a few bumps in the road

Some west end residents say they won’t play the part of the damsel tied to the train tracks in their fight against a proposed light rail transit line in their community.

Toronto’s Transit City plan shows the Waterfront West LRT running along Lakeshore Boulevard from the Long Branch GO station to Union Station. But residents of the community between Long Branch and Parklawn Road fear that the dedicated rail line will turn their neighbourhood in to a transit corridor.

“This is just going to be a bedroom community where literally all you do is come home to sleep,” Mona Berube, an 18-year resident of the area, said.

The main concern stems from the fact that most of the street in that section of Lakeshore Boulevard measures up to 10 metres narrower than the required width to install the LRT. Paul Chomik, of the Lakeshore Planning Committee, says this means the city will have to make extra room.

“It looks like about 50 per cent of the existing street front would have to come down,” Chomik said.

Currently, the projected number of small businesses that would be eliminated in the area totals between 85 and 100.
“It’s my livelihood. It supports my family, it supports me.” Patricia Delfin, whose store The Clock Factory has called Lakeshore home for over 30 years, said.

Other concerns include the complete loss of parking spaces along Lakeshore. As well, the right of way barriers would mean some motorists would have to drive past their destinations, make a u-turn at the next light and then double back.

The plan also eliminates up to one-third of the existing TTC stops – an issue especially problematic for elderly and disabled residents who will have to walk further to catch the LRT.

Margaret Smith, who helped spearhead the fight against an LRT route along St. Clair West, says that this situation mirrors the one her neighbourhood experienced.

“We all knew it was a fixed process,” Smith said, “because every time we went to these public meetings we knew (the TTC and the city) weren’t listening.”

Despite the public outcry, a few Lakeshore residents have come to the defence of the LRT project.

Angelina Chiu, chair of the Transportation and Traffic Committee for the Humber Bay Shores Condominium Association, says that many of her residents like the idea of the LRT because they believe it will reduce traffic congestion in the area and help the environment.

Jason Mote, another local, feels that since the plan remains in the assessment phase, the opposition amounts to nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction.

“There’s a suggestion here on the Lakeshore that if you put this LRT up it’s like putting up the Berlin Wall,” Mote said.

Mote likes the idea of a transit route that brings people straight to the downtown core. However, he and Chiu do admit that the TTC must still show the residents of the area how the LRT will improve travel times and allow for more input from the residents.

Smith, however, believes that only one solution will prevent the Lakeshore residents from enduring the years of delayed construction and loss of local businesses that her St. Clair West neighbourhood continues to experience.

“They have to replace their councillor and City Hall,” Smith said. “They make promises they don’t keep. They don’t do what they say they’re going to do.”

Filed by Mike Crisolago

More information on Waterfront West LRT

City of Toronto Waterfront West LRT page

CCFEW (Citizens Concerned about the Future of the Etobicoke Waterfront)

Save Our St. Clair website for citizens opposed to the St. Clair dedicated transit route

Website of City Councillor Cesar Palacio discussing the “Without a doubt unsafe” report by former Toronto Fire Services District Chief Robert Leek