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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

The Green Line — introducing an ideas competition for Toronto’s midtown hydro corridor — walk along it with Shawn Micallef


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Follow Shawn Micallef for the next few days here on Spacing as he strolls the Green Line, a five kilometre-long hydro corridor that passes through midtown Toronto between Davenport and Dupont roads. Shawn will cross a variety of neighbourhoods and landmarks as he follows the power lines from Davenport Village to the Annex. It’s a great route through Toronto now, but as you’ll see, there is lots of potential for it can be much better

You can contribute to a new vision for the public use of the hydro corridor by entering the Green Line Ideas Competition. See to submit your ideas for how the space created by this long, linear piece of infrastructure can be transformed into exemplary public space and a pedestrian and cycling link for everyone to enjoy.

The competition opens on December 5 and is being organized by Workshop Architecture with support from Spacing, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Association of Architects, Astley Gilbert, and many more.



  1. There is a trail alongside the railway there, at least between Avenue and Lansdowne, it is wide enough to be used safely for recreational purpose. Some locals walk their dog there. The surface has a lot of gravels, making cycling not so pleasant, but possible. But there is no formal access point to it (other than the crossing at Bartlett Ave. You need to know where to look for the opening on the fence to access it (or get on from the parking lots on the north side of the tracks and cross the tracks).

    I have always being daydreaming about converting it into proper cycle path, and with a bit luck have it connected to the West Toronto Rail path. Would not that be fantastic? Anyone can make that happen?

  2. Yu – this Green Line doesn’t propose using that trail, still part of the CPR and too close to tracks. You’ll see over the coming days there’s lots of other room (that path is used though – you see people walking it as you say).

  3. Shawn, 

    I know we are not talking about the same thing, just adjacent. And I know that is not city land (hence just “daydreaming”). But there is a huge advantage for the trail along the rail corridor, it is already grade separated from the street grid, making it an excellent route for both commuting and recreational cyclists. As for the too close part, I am sure there are certain code that deems it unsafe, but to my layman’s eyes, it is wide enough between Avenue and Lansdowne, all you really need is just a fence, so that even if a train is passing at full speed it is still safe, not to mention that all trains I have seen in that area are basically travelling at bicycle speed.

    Anyway, sorry for detracting from the main topic. I am know the hydro corridor there has big potential too, just cut across by too many little streets.

  4. Yu> No no, I’ve wondered that too. You’ll see in the text I tell people to stand on Barlett to get an idea of the width of the railway corridor.

    apart from trails – there’s also the possibility for transit – what about a midtown Go line one day? etc

  5. Sure, potential for more transit is there. It has the big advantage of cut across many densely populated neighbourhoods, making it more attractive than some other train corridors (like Don Valley). But there are 2 to 3 train tracks there already, and that corridor seems to have little train traffic anyway (I think less than one train per hour). Makes me wonder if the existing tracks would be sufficient to provide GO service on top of what it does now. 

  6. Summerhill would go from the most lonely station on the line to one of the best connected. Plus you’d walk through the temple of booze.

  7. I agree with Yu about the improvised trail that is already alongside the tracks – it would be great to link it to the Railpath and have official access points, but there is the matter of its being used as a service road by CP and how to connect the trails at the rail junction.

  8. Re the Hillcrest parking lot in the first photo: I’m not optimistic about the prospects for a publicly accessible trail or linear green space there. Aside from the usual TTC intransigence and the interests of U-Haul (which uses part of the lot to store vehicles for its outlet farther south on Bathurst), a rail spur is under construction from the CP line to the Hillcrest complex for the delivery of new streetcars. That in itself is a major physical obstacle.

  9. You’re right, it is. If the diagonal string of parks at the western end can be joined up to the Geary parkette and extended east of Shaw, perhaps at Christie (where there is already something of a linear park on both sides) is where the trail could cross to the south side of the tracks to avoid the spur.