At long last, the Railpath is coming! Well, construction will begin “later this year” according the press release (see below.) The West Toronto Railpath will be a linear park and the first bike trail* to be built in a rail corridor in Toronto. (*This is yet to be seen, but do take note of all the bikers in the pretty renderings.)
The images in this post are sneak peeks, provided by Scott Torrance Landscape Architects:
Date: Monday March 19th 2007
Time: 6:00 PM
Location: Perth Randolph Centre
21 Randolph Avenue (one block north of Bloor, west of Lansdowne)
This new park and bike trail will begin construction later this year and will stretch along the east side of the rail corridor west of Perth Avenue, from Dundas Street in the south to Cariboo Avenue in the north. If you can not attend but would like more information please email Adam Giambrone’s office or call 416-392-7012.
The West Toronto Railpath (WTR) is a community initiative formed to facilitate the conversion of abandoned rail lines running between the Junction (around Dupont and Dundas Street West, at Cariboo) and Strachan Avenue (well, initially) into a linear greenway, creating a 6.5 kilometre-long active transportation artery running diagonally across the street grid in west Toronto.
The Friends of the West Toronto Railpath community group was initiated by Toronto residents with the goal of assisting the City in the creation and stewardship of this multi-purpose park. The Railpath idea had been discussed at resident’s association meetings in the west end for years. In 2001 some members of the Roncesvalles-Macdonell Resident’s Association formed a partnership with the Community Bicycle Network (CBN) and Evergreen and began working to make the project a reality.
The City of Toronto is funding the multi-use trail and it is being co-coordinated by the Parks and Recreation division. The City approved funding for the WTR back in 1997 and has allotted almost $3 million since. However, the acquisition process was not completed until 2003. The City now owns the 2.1-kilometre stretch of rail corridor, also known as the CP PS Spur Lead railpath. The City has not been able to procure the southern two-thirds of the original proposed railpath, which is part of the CN Weston Sub.
More capital funding was approved in 2005 to complete the detailed design and construction documentation. The City’s official Request for Proposal for this contract went out on January 26, 2006 and closed on February 8, 2006, and was awarded to Scott Torrance Landscape Architects. This firm is now completing the detailed design phase. The functional design was completed in the fall of 2004 by Harrington & Hoyle Landscape Architects, which established the design objectives for the trail development and funding requirements. The Railpath’s functional design parameters had the park at about ten metres wide with a four-metre wide paved path (two metres each direction) and a six-foot high fence separating the path from the tracks. I will report back on what the detailed design parameters are following Monday’s meeting.
The remaining 4.4 km of the originally proposed Railpath (from, roughly, Dundas and Lansdowne to Strachan and King) overlaps with a planned GO train service expansion, as well as the proposed Air-Rail Link. So, in reality, these rail lines are far from abandoned. These tracks are owned by CN, which jealously guards against any incursions and will likely never sell this property as it makes too much money from leasing it.
I will be interested to see if any progress has been made to extend the Railpath down to Strachan, as it was originally intended.
Dave Nosella, the City’s Capital Project Co-ordinator for the Railpath, told me last year that he expected construction would begin this spring, once the CN/GO Transit grade separation work north of Dupont is finished.