Conceptual rendering of retaining and noise walls for the Ontario Line


Sneak peek at community-inspired Ontario Line retaining walls

Winning design concepts coming to public spaces in Riverside and Leslieville.

May 8, 2024

The Ontario Line subway project will bring a unique new look to Toronto’s Riverside and Leslieville neighbourhoods thanks to some community-inspired design elements that will crop up this spring.  

Through a design competition, residents were able to help shape the design of brand-new retaining walls that will be installed along the existing GO rail corridor where Ontario Line trains will run. 

Retaining walls are used to stabilize the ground around the rail tracks, keeping soil and structures in place while providing a physical barrier to the rail corridor. 

New retaining wall renderings 

Let’s take a sneak peek at some of the retaining wall designs we can expect to see in place this spring. 

Conceptual rendering of retaining and noise walls for the Ontario Line

Artist’s rendering of the future retaining wall and noise barrier along the railway in the Saulter Street Parkette. Additional Park amenities pictured are conceptual. (Metrolinx image)

Careful thought has gone into producing designs that reflect the look and feel of different areas throughout the community where the walls will be installed.  

The wave-like pattern of overlapping, curved lines pictured below was inspired by transit lines, the bustle of Queen Street East and the natural park spaces along the railway throughout these neighbourhoods.  

This pattern will form the background behind greenery that will be planted along the railway. 

Image of Ontario Line retaining wall wave pattern design

Retaining walls between the Eastern Avenue rail bridge and the Queen Street East rail bridge will feature the wave pattern. (Metrolinx photo)

The connecting lines of shallow grooves (known as fluting) pictured below were designed to create a playful and contrasting background for greenspaces like Bruce Mackey Park.  

New landscaping and plants will also form a screen in front of this pattern in the future, letting glimpses of it peek through for passersby to see as they stroll through the parks.  

Image of Ontario Line retaining wall lined/fluted pattern design

Passersby can expect to see this fluted pattern along the railway between the Queen Street East rail bridge and Dundas Street East. (Metrolinx photo)

Design enhancements in Riverside and Leslieville 

You might be wondering how these designs were chosen.  

In June 2022, Metrolinx launched a design competition to source innovative ideas for enhancing the look of transit infrastructure in public spaces along the future Ontario Line route in these neighbourhoods.  

A community jury – made up of local leaders, business improvement association board members, architects and interested community members – carefully reviewed proposals submitted by a number of design firms.  

The jury selected Canadian design firm O2’s proposed concepts as the best suited to reflect the priorities of the Riverside and Leslieville communities. 

Teams are now using these design concepts to guide them as they plan, produce and build the retaining walls, noise barriers, new bridges, the Riverside-Leslieville Station plaza and landscaping along the railway. 

What’s next? 

T-walls, pictured below, will be used to build the retaining walls in Riverside and Leslieville.  

These types of walls are T-shaped blocks made from reinforced concrete and are used across for a variety of construction projects, including retaining walls, sound barriers and flood protection systems. They are designed to withstand soil pressure while providing stability and structural support. 

Image of a stockpile of t-walls for new Ontario Line retaining walls

T-wall segments stocked and prepared for future installation along the railway. (Metrolinx photo)

To support new Ontario Line tracks and future GO Expansion, we removed the old retaining walls along the railway and will begin building new ones roughly between the Eastern Avenue and the Dundas Street East rail bridges. 

Work on the new walls will start on the eastern side of the railway in May. 

Map of the installation process for new Ontario Line retaining and noise walls

Map of future new retaining walls and noise barriers along the Lakeshore East GO Transit railway in Riverside and Leslieville. (Metrolinx image)

Crews will begin installing noise barriers after each section of the retaining walls are completed.   

Once completed, the Ontario Line will put over 21,000 people in Riverside and Leslieville within walking distance of transit and put more rapid transit within quick and easy access to nearly 11,000 local jobs. 

by Caitlin Docherty Communications Senior Advisor, Subway Program