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Eglinton East LRT design work gets nod to move forward

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The city’s Executive Committee voted Tuesday to continue design work on the Eglinton East light rail line, despite the fact that the project remains unfunded.

The proposed 18.6-kilometre LRT in Scarborough would have a total of 27 stops and would run from Kennedy Station, snaking northwest to two end points — the planned Sheppard-McCowan Station, and Malvern Town Centre.

Executive Committee approved an alignment for the line Tuesday, as well as $9.5 million more for 2024 to advance design work.

With a price tag of an estimated $4.65 billion however, the project remains unfunded. According to city staff, the sunk costs for the municipality should the project never be funded would be around $18.5 million.

The Ford government has made transit expansion a priority in Toronto, but has identified four major subway projects that it is focusing on, including the Ontario line, Scarborough Subway Extension, the Yonge North subway extension, and the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension.

Eglinton East LRTThe province is also looking at extending Line 4 (the Sheppard Subway) East of Don Mills station, which could potentially affect plans for the Eglinton East light rail project.

According to the 2019 Getting Ontario Moving Act, the municipality cannot develop or build projects that are substantially similar or in close proximity to a provincially designated rapid transit project. The province’s exploration of expanding rapid transit along Sheppard is expected to be complete sometime in 2024. As part of the item approved by Executive Committee Tuesday, staff can alter the Eglinton East project alignment accordingly should there be overlap.

City staff say the proposed line would provide transit to historically underserved communities in the city, travelling through or adjacent to seven neighbourhood improvement areas and bringing higher order transit within walking distance of an additional 71,000 people.

“By providing convenient connections to other transit services, such as the TTC system and GO Transit, the EELRT would also offer more transportation options to residents in eastern Scarborough,” City staff said in their latest report.

The proposed route of the Eglinton East LRT project is pictured. (Handout /City of Toronto)

Speaking with reporters Tuesday, Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow said it's "exciting" to see the design work advancing.

Councillor Paul Ainslie moved a motion for an amendment asking city staff to continue to explore opportunities for a stop to be located at Morningside Park, at 390 Morningside Avenue. The Executive committee adopted the motion along with the other recommendations.

It will now go to council for final approval.

City staff are expected to report back to council in 2024 with revised cost estimates to advance the project to 30 per cent design, an update on the province’s Shepherd extension project, and other details. 

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