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Ontario Line FAQs

We know you have questions about the Ontario Line, and we have answers. Below, you will find answers to the most asked-about topics for this important project.

If you have a question that isn't answered below, please reach out to us at ontarioline@metrolinx.com so that a member of our team can help you.

Topics

Budget, Cost & Timeline

Engagement Process

Property Acquisitions

Environment & Community Impacts

Technology

Alignment & Stations

Maintenance and Storage Facility

Budget, Cost & Timeline

What is the project budget and who is responsible for funding?

The capital costs of the Ontario Line are estimated at $10.9 billion, and the project is expected to generate $9.9 to $11.3 billion in economic benefits for the City of Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area as a whole, with an expected benefit cost ratio (BCR) of 1.05 – meaning for every dollar spent in the region could result in a benefit of $1.05.

In April 2019, the provincial government announced a $28.5-billion subway expansion program, of which $11.2 billion has been committed by the province. On May 11th, the federal government announced a 40 per cent funding commitment to Ontario’s four priority subway projects, including the Ontario Line.

The projects are being procured and delivered by Infrastructure Ontario and Metrolinx.

When will construction begin?

Construction will begin this year, when teams break ground on early works for the project. This work will include rail corridor expansion and other modifications at Exhibition Station, and utility relocations. The overall schedule and completion dates will be determined through the procurement process for the project.

Engagement Process

How is my feedback considered?

One of the main reasons we seek feedback is to uncover insights we might not have anticipated. We are continuously looking at how we might be able to modify parts of our plan based on what we hear from communities – whether we get that feedback through formal public meetings or one-on-one conversations.

During consultations on environmental assessments, we document feedback and any actions we take as a result of that feedback in consultation summaries that are part of finalized environmental assessment reports.

What say will the community have on station design, station names?

Stations will be designed with the community in mind, using a set of guidelines that will make sure they are attractive and fit into the areas they will serve.

We’ll be looking for opportunities throughout the planning and design process to get public feedback on design elements. We look forward to working with community members and the City of Toronto on how to design Ontario Line stations that communities will be proud of.

We will work with the communities along the line to determine station names that are clear and representative of the neighbourhoods they will serve. We’ll share more details on those opportunities in the future.

Property Acquisitions

There are a number of older, historic buildings along the route, like the ones at King/Bathurst and Queen/Spadina. How will your work affect them?

We always strive to reduce or avoid impacts to these kinds of properties because we know how important they are to the fabric of the city, and we know we need to do everything we can to preserve the historic character of our neighbourhoods. Making room for new transit infrastructure in a dense, urban environment does mean that some existing buildings will be impacted, but it’s our job to keep those impacts to a minimum.

If we can’t avoid certain impacts, we work with heritage specialists to see how we can reuse or incorporate heritage features, including exterior facades of buildings, and how we can commemorate their significance with permanent plaques or signs.

We completed a comprehensive inventory of heritage properties and cultural heritage landscapes, including Heritage Conservation Districts for the Environmental Conditions Report, which you can view here.

How many properties will you be acquiring? How will I know if my property is impacted?

We are still determining impacts and confirmation of properties through further environmental assessment and design work. We understand that residents and businesses want specific details about impacts to their properties, and we will reach out individually to property owners as soon as we can.

Learn more about the property acquisition process.

Environment & Community Impacts

How does Metrolinx plan to address the noise and vibration from Ontario Line trains?

The first steps in reducing impacts from noise and vibration starts at the source – with the train and track.

When the Ontario Line trains are running, they will be electrified, which means they will be quiet, in addition to clean and fast.

As plans are refined, we’ll have several tools to choose from to reduce noise and vibration at the track level. These options include tracks equipped with rail dampers and resiliently supported rail ties. technology that helps trains and subways run quietly over the tracks, very similar to soundproofing. In some above-ground sections areas where Ontario Line trains will run alongside GO trains, ballast mats could be installed on GO track – these are like cushions under the tracks that help soften the vibrations and sounds as trains pass over them.

We’ll also be installing noise walls in certain above-ground areas including the Lakeshore East Joint Corridor through Riverside and Leslieville. These transparent noise walls will be a minimum of five metres high to offer the best possible noise reduction. Our studies show that the installation of noise walls will result in sound levels that are the same as they are today, or lower, in the majority of locations in this community. Wherever possible, these will be surrounded by attractive landscaping with trees and shrubs to keep things looking nice.

During construction, we’ll have options including construction equipment silencers and muffling devices and other methods that minimize vibrations. We’ll be coordinating construction schedules so that noisy work happens when it makes the most sense.

How will sound barriers and noise walls be designed with the community in mind?

We are committed to working with the community on the look, feel and features of the new walls to ensure that they fit into the neighbourhoods where they’re being built. The goal is to create welcoming spaces around them that reflect the community’s interests and priorities.

Consultation with the community started September 23, 2021 with the launch of an online survey to collect feedback on wall features.

How will communities be consulted with on the design of infrastructure such as noise walls, bridges and stations?

Designs will be shared as soon as concepts are finalized and there will be regular opportunities to share feedback at future consultations and meetings.

Won’t the plans for the rail corridor in Riverside and Leslieville result in a permanent loss of trees?

We are committed to protecting and strengthening tree cover across the city as we deliver greener transportation alternatives, and we always strive to keep tree removals to an absolute minimum.

We’re currently completing a thorough tree inventory and arborist report to find out more about what kinds of trees are next to the rail corridor between Eastern Avenue and Pape Avenue, and how healthy they are. These studies will look at whether or not trees are invasive, diseased, or dead, and will help us determine our plans for protection or removal. We expect to finalize the arborist report in early 2022.

For each tree we need to remove from City-owned or private property, we will work with owners to plant three new ones in its place.

We know we will need to remove the trees within our rail corridor to safely accommodate new electrification poles and wires for expanded GO services and new Ontario Line trains, but we will introduce new plantings in other areas on a one-to-one basis or higher, in line with our Vegetation Guideline. This guideline is based on the Toronto Region Conservation Authority’s own highly regarded guidelines, which are firmly rooted in ecological science.

In 2020 alone, Metrolinx funded and coordinated the planting of more than 22,100 native trees and shrubs (8,079 trees and 14,050 shrubs).

Is Metrolinx doing environmental assessments for this project? How can we be sure the health of our communities and our green spaces are being respected?

Metrolinx is doing several environmental assessments for the Ontario Line.

The revised environmental assessment process for the Ontario Line is designed to ensure we can build this priority transit project faster while upholding strict environmental commitments.

The new process largely follows the existing Environmental Assessment Transit Project Assessment Process, except that it has added flexibility. This allows for more certainty in project planning, reduces the risk of delays, and still provides for environmental oversight and consultation with the public and Indigenous communities.

We’ve already consulted on and finalized four environmental reports, and several more detailed reports will follow to support sound planning, design and construction work for this critical transit project.

We take our responsibility to consult very seriously because we understand how connected people feel to the places they live, work, and play. Stay tuned for more consultation opportunities throughout the assessment process to gather important feedback from the communities we will serve.

How will community impacts be dealt with?

An important part of the planning and design work for a major project like this involves hearing from communities about the plans. Metrolinx has held numerous in-person and online open houses across the alignment this year to gather feedback. Drawing from this, Metrolinx has made refinements to the alignment in places like Leslieville. With the station situated mostly to the south of Queen Street and spanning over the existing rail bridge, the popular Jimmie Simpson Community Centre will be able to continue operating throughout construction and beyond.

Also, Metrolinx will add effective, well-designed sound barriers, landscaping, and new trees and greenery to significantly reduce the sound and visibility of the rail corridor in Riverside and Leslieville, and the trains that will operate within it, including GO and VIA trains.

In Thorncliffe Park, plans were updated to move much of the line off Overlea Boulevard. Instead of the original plan to proceed along Overlea after reaching the neighbourhood station, the Ontario Line will instead turn to the north to run next to the nearby hydro corridor, reducing community impacts and creating a better fit for the neighbourhood.

Metrolinx will continue to work with communities to ensure a comprehensive array of measures are in place to address any noise or vibration impacts and to ensure designs are sensitive and respectful of communities.

Community consultation will be launched this spring to seek feedback on noise wall design and landscaping.

What are you doing to protect park spaces?

Providing ongoing access to beloved community park space will be a top priority for us as we deliver this important project.

We know that spaces where we can relax and unwind and children can play are vital in communities, and we are committed to working with our community partners to ensure there is continued access to park and playground space as we deliver better, faster and easier transit.

We are still finalizing property needs, striving to minimize the footprint of our work wherever possible. If we do need to temporarily occupy some park space to support construction and avoid impacts to nearby homes and businesses, we will work with the city to ensure that it is thoughtfully restored once the project is finished.

While there may be some impacts to parks during construction so that we can avoid having to acquire private property, we are committed to only using the space that is absolutely necessary.

During construction, the safety of park spaces will be a top priority and regular communication and safety measures will be in place to keep the community and park visitors safe.

We will work with contractors to preserve surrounding vegetation in areas where we are working. Metrolinx’s Vegetation Guideline protocol reflects a landscape science-based approach to restoring greenspace that meets or exceeds bylaws and regulations. We will strive to keep tree removal to a bare minimum and will also take the opportunity to remove invasive foliage.

If a tree does need to be removed from a park to ensure safety during construction and operations, our policy is to work with the City to plant three new ones in its place.

Won’t running the Ontario Line above ground through Riverside and Leslieville negatively affect the quality of life in the community?

Finally bringing a rapid transit station to rail corridor in Riverside and Leslieville will provide much-needed relief to the 501 streetcar and make it better, faster and easier for people who live and work in this vibrant area to move around the city and the region.

We also expect to improve background air quality levels by allowing people to leave their cars at home and take transit instead.

Operating electric-powered trains will ensure that no additional emissions are introduced to the local community due to the Ontario Line. The planned electrification of numerous GO trains that run through the rail corridor in the Leslieville and Riverside area will also have a similarly positive impact. Lower levels of noise and vibration can also be expected from quieter electric-powered trains compared to the diesel-powered GO trains that are operating in the corridor today.

Noise levels in the community will be lower than they currently are in most areas of the Leslieville and Riverside communities thanks to the continuous noise walls we will be installing in this area. We will also be pursuing a wide array of other proven solutions for reducing noise and vibration at the source such as continuously welded rail, ballast mats, rail isolation systems and more. Metrolinx is working closely with the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks to ensure we meet or exceed all applicable guidelines and regulations.

How will you support local businesses during construction?

We’re committed to ensuring local businesses remain accessible, visible and successful throughout this important project.

We’ll work with the business community to ensure there is flexibility in the supports we provide, from making sure store fronts are clear and easy to access, to working together on promotions and incentives, to helping them relocate to other nearby locations if their properties are needed to support construction.

We’ve also opened our community office on Queen Street in Riverside. The Queen Street community office is currently staffed throughout the week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with staff staying until 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Saturdays, we have staff working from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

During construction we will have a 24-hour hotline giving the community direct access to someone who will listen to their concerns and address any issues.

Will there be street closures as a result of construction? How will you manage traffic impacts across the city if there are any closures or diversions?

Building a subway through such a densely populated urban area is a challenge, but we’re committed to keeping people moving during construction. Our top priority is maintaining safe access for all.

We’ll be working with communities, local BIAs, elected officials and the TTC on plans to maintain safe access to local stores and businesses with robust safety measures and frequent communication. These plans will involve:

  • avoiding or minimizing impacts to existing transit services as much as possible;
  • communicating early and often about any temporary impacts to roadways and transit lines;
  • looking at other projects that may be taking place to see how they might affect our plans;
  • ensuring communications about any changes are clear and highly visible across many different channels.

What will happen to Pape Avenue Junior Public School, which the line seems to run under?

The Ontario Line will be underground by the time it reaches Pape Avenue Public School so the property wont’ be impacted.

We're working closely with the school and parent council on plans to keep the area safe for students and faculty during construction while also protecting the building and playground. For families who choose transit, the nearby station at Gerrard will make getting to and from school much simpler.

Will any sidewalks or roads need to be temporarily or permanently removed to make way for the above-ground section in the north segment?

Building an elevated guideway in this area will help us minimize impacts to sidewalks or roads by avoiding large excavation sites that would otherwise be needed for tunneling. We also don’t expect to permanently impact any roads in this area.

While there may be impacts to some roads and sidewalks during construction, we’re going to strive to keep them to a minimum. We’ll put safety precautions in place and communicate about impacts early to keep the community informed and safe as they travel through the area.

What will the hours of construction be?

We’ll make sure that construction disruptions are minimal, with most work happening on weekdays and weekends between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. However, some work will need to be done overnight, like tunnel boring. We’ll communicate early and often with communities as soon as we know about any planned overnight construction work.

Technology

What vehicle/train will be used for the Ontario Line?

The Ontario Line is expected to feature modern, automated trains like the ones used in Vancouver, London, Paris and Singapore. This technology could allow for a higher frequency of service (up to 40 trains per hour) with as little as 90 seconds in between trains.

Alignment & Stations

Why can’t the whole line be underground?

Decisions around the route and the elevation of the Ontario Line have been made with the whole network in mind, but they’re also tailored to the specific communities the line will serve. That’s why it will run in tunnels, along existing railways, and on elevated structures where it makes sense to do.

When determining the Ontario Line’s route and elevation, planners balanced considerations like:

  • how many people could be served,
  • how much travel time could be saved
  • how many connections could be made to other major rapid transit lines
  • how quickly and effectively the line could be built
  • how effectively any local impacts could be managed, and
  • how to ensure the best possible use of taxpayer dollars.

In the newer, northern part of the city where there are wide roadways and streets, the Ontario Line will run on modern, elevated structures because there’s room for them, and construction will be faster and less impactful. In places where there are existing rail corridors, like Leslieville, Riverside and near Exhibition place, the line will fit into an existing rail corridor, giving surrounding communities the benefits of faster and less impactful construction by avoiding complex and time-consuming tunneling and building in land we already own. These above-ground sections have the added benefit providing faster and easier connections to and from surface transit, because the stations aren’t deep underground.

In other dense parts of the city with narrow roadways and no available rail corridors, tunneling is the only choice.

Like everything, there are pros and cons no matter which option you choose – but we only choose options that we know will work extremely well for the communities they serve. For the sections that run on or above the ground, we know we can significantly cut down on property impacts, introduce effective, well tested noise and vibration solutions, create new and welcoming public spaces, and build best-in-class infrastructure that is safe, attractive and designed with communities in mind. That’s something we are absolutely doing as we continue to engage with communities throughout the planning and design process.

Couldn’t the Ontario Line go underground after East Harbour, before reaching Riverside and Leslieville?

We considered whether it would be possible to bring the Ontario Line underground just east of the proposed surface station at East Harbour, where Ontario Line trains will connect seamlessly with above-ground GO trains. We looked at a number of options and planners have determined an underground alignment in this area would not be practical for a variety of reasons, most of which are related to the disruptions it would cause in the community and the benefits that would be lost with an above-ground alignment.

Firstly, a portal would need to be built between Eastern Avenue and Queen Street to ensure Ontario Line trains remain above ground as planned at East Harbour. Creating a quick and easy interchange here is critical in tackling congestion at Union Station, where crowding could go down by as much as 14 per cent – or 14,000 fewer people – during the busiest hour. Moving the portal would also result in:

  • Extended journey times
    If the Ontario Line were tunneled in this area, stations would need to be nearly 40 metres deep to go under the Don River, maintaining a similar depth up until Gerrard where large sewer mains would need to be avoided. That would be as deep as a nine-storey building is tall, requiring three separate escalators to get to the trains and adding 4.5 minutes to customers’ journeys. This would ultimately discourage people from transferring to and from GO trains at East Harbour and result in less crowding relief at Union Station.
  • Longer – and more – construction
    Building a portal in this area would prolong construction and cause significant and lengthy community disruption from soil excavation, utility relocation, concrete pouring and many other construction activities. For example, one dump truck going in and out every 20 minutes, 24 hours a day for an entire year plus daily deliveries of building materials like concrete and reinforcing steel would go on for years.
  • Additional property impacts
    Moving the portal would require the acquisition of numerous homes along McGee and Saulter Streets and have significant impacts on most of the parks in the area, and other small businesses and community organizations nearby.
  • Permanent street closures, loss of Queen Street station
    Trains need to safely move from above ground to below. The maximum track grade, or steepness, of a track that is diving underground is 4.5 per cent. At this grade, a portal would need to be built in the area of Eastern Avenue and extend as far as Queen Street. Significant excavation to lower the levels of land would be needed to build a portal and retaining walls for the shallow tunnel structure. This would result in a permanent closure of Eastern Avenue or Queen Street, disrupting existing traffic and transit services. Worse, there would not be enough room for a station at Queen and De Grassi.

    To avoid that closure and still build a station, the streets and the existing bridges that run above them would need to be raised by at least two metres. Even then, there would not be sufficient space for a customer concourse in the station at Queen and De Grassi – only platforms.

    Eliminating the station would greatly reduce customer benefits – especially for people living in the immediate vicinity – and the much-needed relief for the 501 streetcar will be lost. The additional costs of this approach will exceed $800 million.

    To avoid raising the road and the rail bridge would require a track incline steeper than what most subway vehicles in the world can manage.

While there are pros and cons to both underground and above-ground approaches, the analysis shows that an above-ground alignment through Riverside and Leslieville will result in far fewer community impacts and deliver significantly more benefits.

Is it safe to run the Ontario Line within the joint rail corridor through Riverside and Leslieville?

Wherever Ontario Line trains will run on a joint rail corridor – as they will through Riverside and Leslieville – they will do so on their own dedicated tracks that will be completely separate from other rail operations. We will use a dedicated, Ontario Line-only signalling system that will use the latest signalling and monitoring technology. This system will ensure trains are in constant communication with one another, so their precise location is known at all times, meaning vehicles always stay a safe distance from one another. With sensors that can detect objects on the tracks, trains will also automatically stop if there is something blocking the way.

Train doors will also automatically open and close in sync with platform edge doors that will be installed at all stations, keeping both passengers and objects safely separated from moving vehicles.

How and why were the preferred alignment and station locations chosen?

Communities are at the centre of our decision-making. Any decisions we make on alignment and station location are in the interest of improving the customer experience, increasing access to transit, maximizing ridership, achieving travel time savings, and creating better access to jobs. These criteria are balanced by cost and other important community considerations.

We will continue to keep your community at the heart of our planning process and we advance this important project.

Is there going to be a bus terminal built at the Exhibition Stations for GO and TTC to get riders to the line?

We’re working closely with the TTC on how to best meet future transit needs and make sure customers have easy access to both the Ontario Line and TTC services at Exhibition Station.

Exhibition Station will be an important transit hub for customers using the Ontario Line as well as GO Transit and TTC services. GO and Ontario Line customers will use a shared concourse, making for seamless and quick transfers between the two services.

Will the above-ground section prevent bike lanes from being put on Don Mills Road/Overlea Boulevard bridge to connect the isolated bike paths we have now?

Current plans have the guideway off the roadway on both Overlea and Don Mills, but plans for the public area under the guideway could include a multi-use path. We will work with the City of Toronto and seek public input on how to best use this space to serve the community, and we’ll share updates on these opportunities throughout the course of the project.

Current Ontario Line plans avoid crossing the Overlea Bridge to minimize impacts to Valley Park Middle School and the community cricket pitch.

What will happen to the bridges in Leslieville and Riverside?

Residents will see obvious improvements to their neighbourhoods as aging railway bridges are replaced at Eastern Avenue, Queen Street, Dundas Street and Logan Avenue. The bridges, which currently accommodate both GO and VIA Rail services, are located within the shared rail corridor where Ontario Line tracks will also be located.

We are replacing the bridges because they need to line up with the new tracks we are adding to support expanded GO services as well as the existing tracks that will be repositioned to make room for the Ontario Line. Ontario Line-only bridges will be built next to the new GO rail bridges.

We are consulting with the city and building the bridges to their current standards for new bridges, with five metres between the bottom of the bridge and the roadway. By comparison, the Queen Street bridge has a clearance of only 3.9 metres.

Replacing these bridges now means they will last for at least another 100 years and will avoid the need for frequent and disruptive repair work on aging infrastructure.

This means the connecting rail tracks must also be higher. They will be raised by 1.1 metres at Queen, 0.9 metres at Dundas, and 0.6 metres at Logan. Requirements for the bridge at Eastern Avenue are being finalized as part of the SmartTrack program.

Maintenance and Storage Facility

Why are you choosing to build a maintenance and storage facility on a site where there are many existing jobs?

The maintenance and storage facility is a critical part of any public transit operation. It’s where trains are housed and maintained to keep them clean and safe for our customers each and every day.

An estimated 44 trains will be needed to meet Toronto’s transit needs when the Ontario Line opens, and the fleet will grow by as many as 10 more vehicles to meet future demand.

After an extensive study of nine different sites across the route, we selected the site in Thorncliffe Park site was selected as our studies showed that it was the best option to meet all of the technical needs for the project. Additionally, this location clearly demonstrated the least impact to local jobs and businesses, which the Province deemed a top priority for Metrolinx.

At the same time, we determined that we could, with certainty, relocate impacted businesses, community organizations and jobs within the community or nearby. This was perhaps the most critical requirement for us as we looked for a site for a facility like this in such a built-up urban environment.

We're now working one-on-one with property owners and tenants in the area to make sure they continue to thrive and deliver the services the community relies on each and every day. Ensuring their continued success in the community they currently serve is extremely important to us.

Which sites did you consider for the maintenance and storage facility?

Metrolinx looked at land near the western terminus at Exhibition all the way to the east and to the northern end of the alignment. A list of nine sites were brought forward for more detailed analysis, some of which were ruled out because they weren’t big enough or they affected too many businesses and jobs.

What supports does Metrolinx offer to businesses displaced by transit expansion plans?

When businesses and community organizations are displaced by the construction of a transit project, Metrolinx is firmly committed to working with owners and tenants to see how they may be able to relocate and continue operating. If operations are impacted, Metrolinx provides compensation and supports.

We understand that moving can be a challenge at the best of times, and may be particularly difficult given the pandemic. That’s why we’re doing everything we can to make sure this process goes as smoothly as possible for everyone.

When businesses and community organizations need support transitioning, our dedicated team of professionals work one-on-one with them to come up with solutions. Everyone’s needs are different, so each case is considered independently and we challenge ourselves to come up with creative solutions that are tailored to each one.

The terms of commercial leases are also always taken into consideration.

When will construction on the maintenance and storage facility start?

The facility is part of the Rolling Stock, Systems, Operations and Maintenance package of works, currently in the Request for Proposal stage of procurement. Construction of this package of work is scheduled to start in late 2022.

When will we have a better idea of the impacts and mitigation measures in this area?

We are currently doing detailed studies on potential impacts and mitigations. Findings will be detailed in a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment Report that we expect to release for review and comment in 2022.

Construction won’t start in the area until the release of the Environmental Impact Assessment Report, but you may notice drill rig trucks or surveyors in the area completing studies for the report.

We will make every effort to avoid or reduce impacts during every stage of the project by introducing proven mitigation measures that protect the quality of life for residents and businesses.

There is a nearby big-box retailer that is not a local business. Why can’t the maintenance and storage facility be located there?

The maintenance and storage facility needs to be as close as possible to the existing rail tracks in the area, and it needs to be made up of longer, narrower pieces of land so multiple trains can be stored on one track. Other parcels of land near the Ontario Line route don’t allow for this setup.

How is Metrolinx working with the Islamic Society of Toronto and Darus Salaam mosque?

In December 2021, we signed an agreement with the Islamic Society of Toronto to invest in a community vision for a new Darus Salaam mosque and community hub in Thorncliffe Park. The new facility will include larger and more extensive prayer spaces, new religious services and facilities, a mezzanine area that will provide bigger and better prayer spaces for women, as well as areas for educational and schooling programs. This new space will also offer a business centre for local, community-based organizations and businesses to relocate to and will offer new gymnasium facilities to play sports such as, basketball, volleyball and indoor cricket – all just steps away from the new Thorncliffe Station.

Community input, engagement and feedback is important to us and we will continue working collaboratively to ensure their vision is realized and to support residents, businesses and organizations as they continue to thrive and grow for years to come. You can read more about this agreement here.