Lights On Toronto! We’re getting a new subterranean transformer station.

The current Windsor transformer station at the corner of Wellington and John Streets is rapidly becoming obsolete and in need of replacement. Toronto’s ever growing forest of condos and office towers in the city core is putting stress on the city’s electrical capacity. The purpose of this fix-it project is two-fold.

First, the project will allow Toronto Hydro to install brand new, state of the art transformers. According to Toronto Hydro representatives at the public information session, these massive transformers (approximately 7(L) x 5(W) x 6(H) metres in size) will be filled not with oil as most conventional transformers are. These will be filled with a special, non-flammable inert gas, significantly reducing the chance of a fire should a transformer fail during use.

Second, the project will allow Toronto Hydro to take the Windsor station completely offline and refurbish its infrastructure, bringing it up to modern standards. While this information session was exclusively focused on the new Bremner Station project, Hydro confirms it has no plans to completely decommission or sell off the existing Windsor Station as the intention is to use both stations to increase Toronto’s electrical capacity into the future. No concrete plans have been drawn up for the Windsor site as the Bremner project has a planned construction timeline extending to 2013.

Some of the noteworthy details about the Bremner Project.

The new station will be almost entirely build underground. In the following image, the new station will approximately occupy the space highlighted in red.

An aeriel view of the new Bremner Station project and The Rogers Centreimage from Google Maps

The subterranean facility will be approximately 4 storeys deep, about 13 metres. As the water table in this area is very close to ground level, the facility will be built within a concrete ‘bathtub‘, ensuring that it is as water tight as possible.

Before shovels can hit the ground, the issue of the existing Machine Shop heritage building has to be dealt with. The building in the above image is highlighted in blue. Talks are ongoing between Toronto Hydro and Heritage Toronto, however the existing building will be carefully dismantled and stored while the construction proceeds. Once construction is complete, the intention is to restore the heritage building to its original location, and will be rebuilt right onto the roof of the power station.

Connecting the new station to the existing electrical grid will take some tunneling and as representatives described it, we are looking at another tunnel boring job in the city! The EA has identified the corridor along Bremner (between Rees and Lower Simcoe), as well as Lower Simcoe (from Bremner to Front) and the most appropriate location to tunnel the connection. This can be seen highlighted in green in the above image, or in the dotted line in the image below.

The map of the future site of Bremner Station from the EA Study noticeimage from EA Study notice:

The tunnel will be bored at a depth of approximately 30 metres, allowing it to be drilled through bedrock. The tunnel will not be very wide, and was anecdotally described to be about ‘1/10th’ the size of a typical subway tunnel. The tunnel will be about 600 m long and will connect to an existing East-West tunnel that connects the Windsor station with another station on the East end of downtown. Because of its depth, not much disruption is expected at street level along its length. The access shaft to begin the tunnel will be located on the site of the excavated station.

Lastly, we have a look at what the above ground component of the station will look like. Because the corner of Bremner and Rees is about 4 metres higher than the corner of Rees and Lakeshore, the station roof will be at ground level at the north end of the station. The design of the walls at the south end, as well as along Rees Street still have to be finalized. Four options were presented. Which do you like?

Option 1:

A Rendering of option one of the final look of the Bremner Stationphotographed display board

Option 2:

A Rendering of option two of the final look of the Bremner Stationphotographed display board

Option 3:

A Rendering of option three of the final look of the Bremner Stationphotographed display board

Option 4:

A Rendering of option four of the final look of the Bremner Stationphotographed display board

Options 1-3 look mostly similar to each other, with the exception of the placement of louvres which will provide ventilation for the heat generated by the transformers deep below, while the fourth option looks vastly different.

The station is expected to have a green roof, and possibly be open public space as the north end will effectively be at ground level allowing one to walk right onto the roof.

A few final shots of the site, from Google Maps:

Looking South-East at the site. Highlighted in red is approximately what the shape of the west wall will look like. At street level to the north, eventually becoming approximately 4 meters tall at the south end (bellow)

Streetview of Rees St. & Bremner Blvd with lined building mock-up.Google Streetview

looking South-East from Bremner and Rees - Google Streetview

Streetview of Lakeshore & Bremner Blvds with lined building mock-up.Google Streetview

looking North-East from Bremner and Lakeshore - Google Streetview

Streetview from Gardiner at Bremner Station site with lined building mock-up.Google Streetview

Looking north at the site, from the Gardiner - Google Streetview

Streetview from Gardinerm looking north at the Future Bremner Station siteGoogle Streetview

Construction is planned to begin this summer starting with the dismantling of the heritage Machine Shop building, and then shovels will hit the ground eventually producing the 4 storey deep ‘bathtub’ facility.

Click the dataBase link below to see the latest renderings of the new faciilty. Want to join in the discussion? Click the Projects and Construction link below!