Metrolinx abandons plans for Bathurst Street closure following criticism
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, January 16, 2019 5:10PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 16, 2019 11:38PM EST
Metrolinx has abandoned its plans to close Bathurst Street north of Eglinton Avenue for seven months following criticism from residents and businesses in the area.
The transit agency had sought permission to close down the busy artery from February until August in order to accelerate construction of Forest Hill Station, which is one of 25 planned stops on the Eglinton Crosstown line.
Metrolinx had argued that the full closure would allow it to speed up construction of the station by three months and avoid a number of rotating lane closures, which are otherwise expected to continue through 2019.
The planned closure, however, drew consternation from a number of resident and business groups.
Many opponents of the closure were in fact planning to attend a Metrolinx town hall set for 7 p.m. tonight to voice their objections but just before 5 p.m. the transit agency announced that it had withdrawn its permit application to the City of Toronto.
“We acknowledge we could have done a better job engaging the community and the councillors. While closing Bathurst Street would have accelerated construction of Forest Hill Station by three months, we understand the community did not feel this benefit outweighed the impacts on area residents and business owners,” a statement from Metrolinx read.
Metrolinx had defended the planned closure as recently as Wednesday afternoon.
At the time, Metrolinx spokesperson Jamie Robinson told CP24 that the construction consortium building the Crowsstown line just wants to get out of major intersections like Bathurst Street and Eglinton Avenue “as quickly as possible” and proposed the full closure as an “alternative” to a series of rotating closures that had proven confusing for drivers and transit riders.
Not everybody agreed with that logic, though.
Nick Alampi of the neighbouring York-Eglinton BIA told CP24 earlier in the day that the closure would have a disastrous impact on businesses that have already struggled as a result of the long term construction on Eglinton Avenue.
“What is going to happen to the businesses? How are the businesses going to survive this?” he asked.
Speaking with CP24 shortly after Metrolinx announced that it was abandoning the planned closure, the councillor for the area said that he was not surprised given what he said was approaching “total opposition” from the community.
“They underestimated the unity of the community. They thought they could basically tell people ‘well we are going to speed it up’ but the problem was that we were basically going to close down the middle of the city for seven months to save three months of time so people said ‘Well, we don’t think it is worth it. They would have had to send buses up residential streets and thousands of cars would have to go up and down residential streets,” Ward 8 Eglinton-Lawrence Coun. Mike Colle said. “The people came together, they didn’t flinch and they stopped it.”
Metrolinx says that the town hall planned for the Beth Tzedec Congregation at 7 p.m. will still go ahead so residents can provide their input.