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Local residents protest plans to build Eglinton LRT extension over Toronto park

Click to play video: 'Tunneling begins for Eglinton West LRT Extension'
Tunneling begins for Eglinton West LRT Extension
RELATED: The Ford government has announced the beginning of construction for the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension. The transit line is slated to connect Toronto and Mississauga. Brittany Rosen reports – Apr 11, 2022

A group of residents in York South-Weston are calling on the province to rethink its transit plans in the area, citing concerns about how a new LRT could alter local parkland.

On Saturday, protestors staged a protest near the Eglinton Flats, a wetland area and park that provincial transit agency Metrolinx plans to run its Eglinton Crosstown West line above.

Much of the western extension is set to be built underground, with the rapid transit line surfacing around Eglinton flats, and plans for riders to glide above the park on an elevated track. That plan, protestors say, is bad for historical trees and the neighbourhood overall.

The local resident group is named Stop the Trains in Our Parks, or STOP for short.

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“The train expressway would run through Eglinton Flats (including Fergy Brown Park), which is some of the most valuable parkland in the city,” its website explains.

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The group raises concerns about tree cutting, encroachment into the park and the large tunnel entry and exit ports required to bring the train above ground and then below again.

An Indigenous group has also raised concerns.

In a letter dated Nov. 30, 2022, the Eshkiniigjik Naandwechigegamig, Aabiish Gaa Binjibaaying (ENAGB) Indigenous Youth Agency wrote to the province to complain about the plan.

The letter said the group had acquired land north of Metrolinx’s planned LRT route in the park and was opposed to the aboveground option.

“This proposed overpass which will interrupt so many of our traditional activities that we will be hosting for our future generations,” the letter said, in part. “Indigenous peoples have a natural law that we must continue, which is our role as land stewards of our mother the earth.”

Metrolinx, however, said a floodplain designation in the area means running the service underground would be a logistical nightmare.

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“Tunnelling the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension under the Humber River would require excavations for the underground stations at Scarlett-Eglinton and Jane-Eglinton to be up to 30 metres deep, which is as deep as a nine-storey building is tall,” the provincial transit agency said in a statement.

“This would be more complex, more time-consuming and more disruptive for the community in comparison to an elevated option.”

Metrolinx said it was “committed to continuing to work with ENAGB” about the issues raised by the Indigenous group.

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