Many Torontonians have heard of Lower Bay Station – a fully functional, but seldom used TTC station below Bay Station on Line 2. Periodically, the TTC reveals the station to the public during events such as Doors Open. Fewer Torontonians are likely aware of another "ghost" TTC station--under Queen Station on Line 1. The TTC roughed out a second station, considerably less complete than Lower Bay, under Queen Station in the early 1950s, when it was building the original subway under Yonge Street. During that time, the TTC expected that it would develop its second subway—or underground streetcar line—east-west under Queen Street. Instead, it built Line 2 under Bloor and Danforth. Since then, lower Queen Station, despite various plans for underground streetcar or subway lines over the intervening years, remains mostly forgotten. It's about to emerge, however, from obscurity: when Metrolinx builds the Ontario Line subway under Queen Street it will use the shell of lower Queen to help passengers transfer between the two subway lines.
The regional transit agency has released the next section of its subway plans for the public to review. The downtown segment of the future line stretches between Osgoode Station on the University arm of Line 1, under Queen Street to Queen Station. It continues eastward towards Sherbourne, then southeasterly to GO Transit's Don maintenance and train-storage yard, just between Cherry Street and the Don River and north of Lake Shore Boulevard.
Earlier plans for the Ontario Line—and even earlier plans for the Downtown Relief Line subway before that—proposed stations that were near, but not under, the current Osgoode and Queen stations. The latest scheme indicates stations that lie directly below the Line 1 stations. Moving the new stations closer to the older ones will save passengers time when switching from one line to another, Metrolinx says. Another benefit of this positioning is to lessen the impact on utilities and the potentially disruptive, expensive and time-consuming process of relocating them.
A post on Metrolinx's news blog quotes Michael Tham, Metrolinx deputy technical director for the Ontario Line. "We are envisioning that the old underground streetcar station will be reused to provide a convenient transfer for passengers between the Ontario Line and Line 1," he said.
"The previously studied locations for the stations were further away from Line 1, but when we continued to study, we developed a better understanding of the complex work required to manage the underground utilities," Tham added. "We also thought that there would be some increased benefits for passengers with the straddle option, so we examined that option further.
"We found the adjusted station location would be better from a constructability standpoint while also being better for the [passenger], so it’s a win-win situation."
Metrolinx says it's working with the City of Toronto and local businesses to develop strategies for reducing the impact of construction.
After crossing under Queen Station at Yonge Street, Ontario Line trains would continue under Queen Street to Jarvis Street then angle slightly north for a station under Moss Park. access to the station would be between George and Sherbourne streets. Building on the edge of the park reduces construction impacts on traffic and transit flow along Queen Street. After construction, Metrolinx will restore the park area and return it to the City.
The tunnel would then curve to the south to the next station on the line, Corktown, just to the east of and parallel to Berkeley Street between King and Front streets, just one block west of Parliament Street.
This area is significant in the history of Toronto and Ontario. Immediately south of the station is the site of first two parliament buildings for Upper Canada from 1797 to 1813 and from 1820 to 1824. The Government of Canada also maintained the Home District Gaol (or "jail" as we'd spell it today) on the site from 1840 to 1864. And Consumers Gas--today's Enbridge--also operated on the site, employing many Torontonians from 1887 until the 1960s.
Metrolinx is planning archaeological assessments before finalizing plans for the property. It will work with the Ontario Heritage Trust, the City, property owners and community members to make sure archaeological findings or historical features are properly documented or conserved and, where possible, made accessible for the public.
"Archaeology work will be done to identify cultural artifacts or heritage elements to be preserved, protected or catalogued," said Richard Tucker, project director for the Ontario Line at Metrolinx. "All artifacts and features will be catalogued and documented and, depending on the artifact, some may find their way to a museum display in the future."
This land, however, has been important in history since much earlier than the first parliament buildings. The entire Ontario Line will be traversing the traditional territories and treaty lands of many nations, including the Anishnabeg, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples, and, in particular, the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.
Metrolinx claims it is "committed to working with Indigenous communities to better understand the important histories and rights of the peoples that have and continue to live in this area." It says it will consult with Indigenous communities throughout the project to better understand and mitigate the potential impacts of the Ontario Line on their Aboriginal and treaty rights. With regard to archaeological studies, Metrolinx also intends to "engage with First Nations to ensure their involvement, participation and identification of any Indigenous sites or artifacts that may be found in accordance with that nation’s protocols."
After leaving Corktown Station, trains would head due south, then turn easterly, coming to the surface parallel to the GO rail corridor. West of Cherry Street, they would emerge from the tunnels in GO's Don Yard train-maintenance and storage facility, with the westbound tunnel to the north of the existing rails, and the eastbound tunnel south of the existing rails.
"Metrolinx is optimizing the footprint of the Ontario Line to make for efficient use of public space,” explained John Potter, from Metrolinx Design Division in the blog post. "We’re being careful to make sure our alignment minimizes impacts on other infrastructure projects near the Lower Don, like the Flood Protection Landform in Corktown Common and the Gardiner rebuild."
Last week, Metrolinx released details of the west end of the line, between Exhibition Place and Spadina Avenue.
Over the next few weeks, it will reveal plans for the last two portions of the future line:
- East -- between the Don River and Danforth Avenue; and
- North -- between Danforth and Eglinton Avenues.
You can review and comment on the plans for the Ontario Line at the Metrolinx Engage website.
You can also add your thoughts about the project in the space provided on this page or in our dedicated Forum thread.
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