Second Donlands exit deferred

Almost like a last-minute phone call from the governor to the deathhouse, a dozen Strathmore Boulevard families have suddenly received reprieves from home expropriation by the TTC.

Just last month, it seemed certain that the homes would either be demolished or dramatically infringed on for the construction of a second exit at the TTC’s Donlands station.

But last week, Toronto city council voted overwhelmingly to defer the second exit project indefinitely — as well as second exit projects at the Greenwood and Woodbine TTC stations. The councillors say that the transit commission can’t afford it.

The houses at 1 and 3 Strathmore faced the wrecker’s ball. Others at 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 faced adjustments — like the large hole that was going to be dug in the yard of Brian and Lisa Dymond’s home… and the wall that would have been built a few metres from their front door.

The neighbourhood is just northeast of Pape and Danforth avenues. It’s been in the TTC’s sights since July, when plans for the Donlands station’s second exit were spelled out.

The community proposed alternatives — like the consensual expropriation of a church on adjacent Dewhurst Boulevard — but in January, the TTC announced that it was moving forward with the original plan.

Then, on Feb. 23, city council voted 42-2 to indefinitely defer the project from the TTC capital budget.

Pat Chastang, the executive assistant to Ward 29/Toronto-Danforth councillor Mary Fragedakis, said the plan was shelved because there isn’t enough funding available.

“It was budget — the lack of money,” Chastang said. “How can we go ahead with the project when the money isn’t there?”

She also listed other second exit projects deferred by council, including those at the Woodbine and Greenwood TTC stations.

But whether these reprieves are, in effect, permanent is still unclear.

“We just have to wait for the next budget,” Chastang said. She explained that whether the second exit projects ever go through will depend on whether the currently cash-strapped transit commission can ever find the money for them.

For now, the residents along Strathmore are relieved.

“The deferral gives time for a sober second thought,” said Lisa Dymond, who also leads the “Strathmore Donlands Action Group.”

“There were too many constraints with the plan, so essentially we want to meet the TTC safety needs while mitigating the impact on the community,” she said.

The TTC had arranged for a public meeting to take place last night at Danforth Collegiate and Technical Institute to update residents on the second Donlands exit project, but the meeting was cancelled.

According to a release from the transit commission, “once the TTC capital budget has sufficient funding in place, a public meeting will be convened with the community about this project.”

Dymond said she wishes last night’s meeting had gone ahead.

“We’re still looking for answers to questions and clarity on the path forward,” she said.