A consultant for Metrolinx is confident a historic building on the former Kodak lands will become the main site for a planned light rail transit station for Mount Dennis.
Joe Berridge said Building #9, situated on lands once belonging to the Kodak corporation, is an ideal future location for the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown LRT’s western terminus point, located near Black Creek Drive.
Berridge, who gave a short presentation on possible development opportunities for the lands at a public meeting last week, said the multi-storey building, the final remainder of a plant owned by Kodak that closed in 2005, could also house a daycare facility as well as office space for Metrolinx.
“You can do all of those things, and that would be my preference,” said Berridge following the evening meeting at York Memorial Collegiate Institute on Wednesday, Dec. 12. “I think it’s a very strong probability that the building will be the station site, yes.”
A partner with the Toronto planning firm Urban Associates, Berridge said construction of a below-grade station at the Building #9 site would present a challenge to preserve the historical nature of the structure, which has fallen into disuse and needs to be extensively renovated, including providing entrances leading into the station from street-level as well as below.
“It’s a tricky bit of construction because you want to keep the building intact while you’re digging out underneath it,” said Berridge. “We’ll see how that works.”
At the two-hour meeting, Metrolinx briefed the approximately 80 people in attendance of possible re-development opportunities centred around the proposed transit connection for Weston and Mount Dennis.
Residents told Metrolinx staff they wanted to see enhanced opportunities for employment and redevelopment in the area, as well as make the area more pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly. Kim Watkins said she envisioned a future where residents would be able to live, work and play all in the same area, which would convince younger generations to put down roots in the Mount Dennis community.
“You want people to work and take pride in their communities, said Watkins, who lives on King Georges Drive, near Keele Street and Eglinton Avenue. “Economic development has to help kids and make them feel like they’re part of this community.”
Also at the meeting Metrolinx staff provided an update on planning for a proposed maintenance and storage facility on the former Kodak lands, for the estimated 162 new light rail vehicles (LRV) to be used on the Crosstown line.
The site would store LRVs for future use on a proposed westward expansion to Jane Street and all the way out to Pearson International Airport. But according to Metrolinx, future expansion will not take place until the first phase of the Crosstown LRT is built in 2020. And even if secondary extension of the Crosstown is given priority it would require additional funding to complete.
Rick Ciccarelli wondered why Metrolinx was considering storing the LRVs indefinitely at the planned maintenance and storage facility when parts of it could be used to create much needed intensification and economic opportunity. Ciccarelli, a Mount Dennis resident who is also the chair of the Clean Train Coalition opposing Metrolinx’s decision to add more diesel train traffic to the Georgetown South GO rail corridor, said around 64 of the LRVs won’t be used until Crosstown expansion is given the green light, which wouldn’t likely take place for at least 25 years.
“If the Jane LRT and phase two of the Crosstown are not in Metrolinx’s next wave of transit priorities, why are we building a maintenance storage facility when we’re not going to use it fully for 25 years?” he asked during a short question and answer session at the meeting.
Marabelle McTavish said she was happy to see Metrolinx encourage public input for its Mount Dennis plans, which the planning agency envisions as a future mobility hub whose economic rebirth is fueled by transit-oriented development spurred by the Crosstown.
But, McTavish, chair of the Mount Dennis Community Association and the Mount Dennis Weston Network, said she would wait to see whether Metrolinx will incorporate community feedback into its designs for the LRT station and surrounding areas such as Weston Road and Black Creek Drive.
“My concern is how we’re going to make sure that what we’re talking about tonight is actually going to happen,” said McTavish following the meeting. “We have no guarantee Metrolinx is going to listen to what was said tonight.” But Berridge said Metrolinx was listening to the community. “I trust Metrolinx, I work with them,” he said. “I hear them react to different suggestions people make and there was nothing here I heard tonight totally indigestible to them.”