The Toronto Subway first opened its doors in 1954. More than 60 years later the system, like any other heavily used infrastructure, is aging and parts of it suffer from a lack of accessibility for disabled patrons. To address this issue, the TTC set a goal back in 1990 of making all of its services and facilities accessible. Currently 32 of the 69 subway stations are fully equipped with elevators and barrier free paths to and from platforms, and works are underway to make the entire network accessible by 2025, under the Easy Access program.

Woodbine and Coxwell Stations are two of the most recent stations to have work started on the upgrades, and they are also getting special attention paid to them through temporary artworks put in place by throughout the renovations. These community-created murals were recently unveiled at Coxwell Station by Toronto Councillors Janet Davis (Ward 31 Beaches-East York), Paula Fletcher (Ward 30 Toronto-Danforth), Mary Fragedakis (Ward 29 Toronto-Danforth) and Toronto Transit Commission Chair Josh Colle (Ward 15).

Series of murals ornating the construction hoarding at Coxwell and Woodbine Stations, image courtesy of the TTC

Both stations are located on the Danforth end of the Bloor-Danforth line (Line 2) and opened in 1966.

Woodbine Station was the temporary Eastbound terminus of the brand new Bloor-Danforth line until Warden Station open and became the terminal for years. Welcoming more than 13,000 patrons a day, it has become not only necessary to make Woodbine station accessible for all customers, but also to enhance its safety and convenience by building a second exit, adding new elevators going from street level to concourse platforms, sliding doors at the station entrance and bus platforms, to improve the wayfinding signage, make various repairs inside and outside the building, and finally to enhance the landscaping of the property. Works have been underway here since February 2014, and renovations are expected to be completed by the Summer of 2017. 

View of the enhanced Woodbine Station, image courtesy of the TTC

Situated at the northwest corner of Woodbine Avenue and Strathmore Boulevard, a new second exit is being built to enhance customer convenience and safety, and might also serve as a second entrance in the future, once the TTC staff reviews their standards for second exits. A house previously located at 998 Woodbine was acquired by the City of Toronto for the TTC before being demolished to make way for the new exit. 996 Woodbine on the south side of Strathmore was similarly bought to be used as a temporary construction site office, although the fate of this property once the construction works are finished is still unknown.

Woodbine Station's new exit, image courtesy of the TTC

View of the enhanced Woodbine Station, image courtesy of the TTC

To reduce the impacts of this heavy renovation project but also to involve the local community, murals were installed and unveiled a few days ago during an official ceremony. This art work is supported by City on the Move and Young Artists in Transit - East, a partnership program of the TTC and Toronto Cultural Services with community partners Arts for Children and Youth and Children's Peace Theatre. It aims to build youth skills in mural art, self-expression, community engagement and leadership. The panels, fastened to the construction hoarding, also carry a literary component on them, with poems contributed by City of Toronto's Poet Laureate and local resident George Elliott Clarke. They will remain in place until the renovations are done, are show the TTC's wish to contribute to the local communities not only through the improvement of their transit network, but through the enhancement of local communities and their implication into major projects.

Local artists and residents and residents working on the murals, image courtesy of the TTC

The same kind of murals are being installed along the construction fences at Coxwell Station. One mural, 6 metres in length by 2.5 metres in height, shows the past peeling away to expose visions of the future of the community. It is by artist Jim Bravo, with the participation of local residents of today. He explains that in his piece, "industry goes green, public transit is completely accessible, pollution is a thing of the past and local waterways are once again abundant with fish".

On the second mural named "Today reassembling yesterday", modern citizenry is seen standing within a miniature model of old East York and incorporates words from the Poet Laureate. Finally, the last two artworks depict residents of the past and present sharing the same vista, Taylor-Massey Creek, greeting each other across time and space, while the second part of the painting shows groups of families and friends standing on the Danforth during a festival. 

Groups of families and friends standing on the Danforth during a festival, image courtesy of the TTC

As of today, 16,000 TTC users animate the station daily. For the same concerns regarding accessibility as Woodbine Station, Coxwell will be equipped with two elevators respectively improving the access to the eastbound and westbound platforms, accessible fare gates, sliding doors at the building's entrance, improved signage and security cameras. Other “State of Good Repair” improvements will be made and include a re-paved bus-loop also featuring new lightning, a new fence on the east side of the property, and new landscape design to improve the station's integration into the neighbourhood. Construction is scheduled for completion in 2017, likely around the same period as Woodbine station. 

View of the upgraded Coxwell Station, image courtesy of the TTC

More information and bi-weekly photo updates are available on the TTC's website, for both Woodbine and Coxwell Stations, or in UrbanToronto's dataBase files for the stations, linked below. If you wish to add your voice to the discussion on these projects, you can check out the associated forum threads, or leave a comment in the section provided at the bottom of this page.