All Aboard The Eglinton Crosstown LRT

City Living, Midtown

If you rely on public transit in Toronto, you know we’re approaching crisis mode as our existing mired transit framework becomes its own form of gridlock. This is why we’re anxiously awaiting the ‘it-can’t-be-soon-enough’ opening of the Eglinton Crosstown –  a light rail transit line that will run along Eglinton Avenue between Mount Dennis (Weston Road) and Kennedy station. Extending about 19 kilometres (including portions which are underground between Keele Street and Laird Drive) this engineering marvel will have 25 stations and/or stops that link to 54 bus routes and numerous GO Transit lines.

This is a joint venture between the Ontario government and a consortium of well-known companies SNC Lavalin, EllisDon, AECON, and ACS Infrastructure Canada. The agreement states that through this partnership, in addition to the 25 stops, they will build track work, signalling, communications and other necessary infrastructure.

Here’s a computer-generated peek at what the completed project is imagined to look like:

 

 

The planning for this mammoth project began way back in 2011 and was originally slated to be complete by 2020. The various phases of this enormous undertaking have been extended and delayed multiple times, due in large part to the pandemic’s effect on construction. With the official word being that Crosslink Transit Solutions has fallen behind again, and with legal and contractual issues emerging in the past couple months, it’s looking more and more likely that Torontonians won’t be riding these rails until late 2024. (More on this in the ‘Testing & Timelines’ section below.)

 

 

*Image courtesy of BlogTO, with thanks.

 

Why Is LRT Better?

The Crosstown will provide fast, reliable, and convenient transit by carrying passengers in dedicated right-of-way transit lanes separate from regular traffic. While slower than subways, LRT vehicles can carry more passengers than other types of above-ground transit. The capacity is pretty impressive. The vehicles can carry 15,000 passengers per hour per direction, but projections place ridership at about 5,500 passengers per hour per direction by 2031. So they are evidently building to allow for significant growth! And these numbers are based on “ideal scenarios”, which often differ from the reality of day-to-day transit performance.

Secondly, LRT is faster than streetcars or buses; light rail vehicles can travel as fast as 80km/hr, though actual speed is governed by the distance between as well as the flow of surrounding traffic.

This smart infographic offers a bit more:

 

 

Economic and Environmental Benefits 

This project has very positive implications for the economy and employment rates. Throughout the construction phases through to completion and beyond, Metrolinx will partner with local companies and community groups to provide jobs, training, and other opportunities. Groups like the Toronto Community Benefits Network (TCBN), is connecting people with jobs in the trades and administration along the Crosstown line.

There are many benefits to The Crosstown in regard to the quality of life of Torontonians and the environment. Obviously, faster transit means less time spent commuting; not only is the Crosstown supposed to cut travel times, but it’s also supposed to improve the reliability of existing TTC lines and consequently their travel times as well. And while the project couldn’t be called “green”, it will reduce traffic congestion, greenhouse gases, and fuel consumption – that’s pretty eco-friendly, right? In fact, it is the first transit project to receive funding through ‘green bonds’  which are tax-exempt bonds reserved for environmentally-friendly infrastructure.

Originally city planners proposed that grass, sedum, and other plants be introduced along portions of the track, as they have been in other cities like Paris and Hamburg. Green trackways are both pleasant to look at and useful: they reduce noise and help offset the “heat island effect.” Unfortunately, it turned out to be 22 percent more expensive than options like gravel. Boo!

 

 

The Crosstown will allow thousands of commuters to take a convenient, low-emissions transit option every day. If it functions as it should, it will not only help preserve the state of the environment but will improve the quality of life for daily commuters.

Speaking of commuters, if you travel the area frequently, it may be prudent to get periodic construction updates!

 

 

The Eglinton Crossover And Real Estate

So: the big question. Once complete, what impact will the new LRT route have on real estate in the city?

Major public transit infrastructure is the basis for urban growth, which is what we will experience along Eglinton where use intensification will accommodate Toronto’s ever-growing population, with a transit line ready to serve. This project will extend the Midtown hub of Yonge and Eglinton further east and west – potentially turning it into a second Bloor Street. Which we desperately need. After all, if you live in downtown Toronto, there are certain amenities considered the staple of the urban dweller, and convenient access to public transportation is usually found at the top of that list.

Right now, neighbourhoods like The Danforth, Bloorcourt Village and High Park, etc. are highly coveted – and suffering from high-price syndrome – because they are within walking distance of the Bloor-Danforth subway line, which is one of our two subway lines. Once the Crosstown is completed, it’s going to make any property within walking distance (both north and south) of Eglinton extremely attractive and more valuable. More importantly, this new transit artery invites the opportunity to intensify our urban fabric, so anticipate the rezoning of existing low-density sites on Eglinton into high-density commercial residential condominiums and rental buildings. In a city suffering from its insufficient supply of housing, having a transit infrastructure in place will spurn redevelopment.

The biggest changes will occur in the demographic make-up and infrastructure of outlying city neighbourhoods. Take, for example, the Eglinton and Keele neighbourhood of ‘Keelesdale’. This area has many of the prerequisite amenities to be considered a thriving family-friendly community, but because of its distance from the core and troublesome commute on public transit, it’s long been considered a ‘launch pad’ neighbourhood by residents. According to census data, the community experiences a 50% population turnover every 5 years, as residents migrate to more convenient locations. However, when the Crosstown trains start running – able to speed residents from these outlying neighbourhoods into the city centre in under 10 minutes – pundits predict extensive gentrification and a demographic shift within the decade. Keelesdale and neighbourhoods like Mt. Dennis can leave the ‘launch pad’ reputation behind. These areas will emerge into their own amenity-laden urban villages.

For anyone with a long-term view, buying in locations that are undergoing transit redevelopment can reap financial rewards. Herein lies the window of opportunity. If you can secure a dwelling in any of the fringe Eglinton-adjacent neighbourhoods before it hits the collective consciousness, you’ll not only see your investment escalate in value faster than suburban locations, but you’ll see your transit commute time reduced significantly in the next three years.

So, look closely at the Eglinton Crossover stops below, and their adjacent communities, because these will inevitably become coveted once the LRT line becomes established!

 

 

Disclaimer: when I mention this is a long-term hold, I mean the financial gains will take around ten years to accrue – and possibly longer depending on how far east or west you’re located from Yonge Street. After all, the process of revitalization takes decades, so an emerging neighbourhood can be in a state of flux for a while. You only have to look at Leslieville, West Queen West, and The Junction to see Toronto neighbourhoods that have been transitioning for 20 to 30 years. But for those who are willing to wait, you are making a calculated risk that will bear financial reward. And how exciting to ride the wave at the cusp of change!

The pace of a neighbourhood’s revitalization has been a topic of fascination by Canadian urban academics for the past sixty years. I know this from my own contribution to the research in the late 80s when I wrote an Urban Studies Thesis funded by The Ministry Of Municipal Affairs called “Gentrification: Yuppie Porn In South Riverdale”. The thesis, which included a comprehensive review of past research exploring the movement of middle-class households into this working-class neighbourhood, also explored my early fascination with housing as a symbol of self. Here’s a brief synopsis of my research – along with my own tale of buying my first house on DeGrassi Street in South Riverdale in 1986 for $87,000 and subsequently selling it three weeks later (plus a photo of yours truly in my bloom of youth) – in A Nose For Leslieville.

In the meantime, given it’s still under construction, the Crossover really means only one thing to Torontonians: congestion and traffic. Construction sites are impeding the flow of transportation and threatening the safety of those – drivers and pedestrians alike – who are trying to navigate them. Helpfully, you can find instructions on doing so – for various intersections – on this Metrolinx website.

So how was your commute today? For most of us, commuting is a daily fact. Yet the financial and emotional implications of commuting are rarely considered in the forefront in the decision to buy a dwelling. Sometimes we are lured by the prospect of cheaper property – or more property for the same price point. In addition to the mental and emotional toll of this daily grind, it prompts the query about the actual financial cost? This begged the question – what is the true cost of commuting? Want to know? Here’s my post called What Are The Real Financial, Emotional And Health Costs Of Commuting?

 

 

*Image courtesy of the CBC, with thanks.

 

Testing & Timelines

It’s true that, as construction drags on, the once-exciting project has been losing fans – particularly among those living in neighbourhoods in proximity to Eglinton Avenue. Road closures, construction noise, and the lack of access to certain businesses and services on the avenue were all factors forecasted before the project began, but they get harder to stomach as the work continued to run behind schedule and over budget. That said, it’s important to focus on the rewards of the Crosstown project, rather than the obstacles. Once it is completed, Torontonians will be able to navigate our city with greater efficiency and ease, and the commerce brought to the areas lining the Eglinton corridor will have a rejuvenating effect that is likely to improve and densify the fabric of those neighbourhoods.

Here are the completed sections – allowing normal traffic to resume – at the close of last year:

 

 

Rail by Rail, station by station, the Crosstown is getting built – including the important Brentcliffe Portal section last year. This was a crucial milestone that allowed light-rail vehicles to start testing on the eastern portion of the tracks, followed by more widespread testing through the summer of last year. Car testing began in early July 2022, which focused on the signalling and train control system – and debuted the first of the three-car trains. It was an essential step in the testing process that ensures reliability, maintainability, and safety. Now, full-length LRVs are travelling along the route, which will be an operating standard during regular service.  But these are only the start of the testing to be done.

In 2022, Crosslinx filed a lawsuit against Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario, saying they should not be held responsible for delays related to the pandemic. The judge sided with the consortium and the two sides renegotiated an agreement, which would have seen the line substantially completed by this past fall. Obviously, this did not come to pass.

 

*Update – June 2023 *

Last month, Metrolinx President and CEO Phil Verster told reporters that Crosslinx “has since ‘fallen well short of its own targets of delivery,’ under the new schedule, specifically when it comes to the testing of the system.” 

The construction consortium responsible for building the Eglinton Crosstown has yet to deliver a “credible schedule” for the completion of the project and there is still no timeline for when it will be up and running, Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney says.” – CTV News.

Verster also said that there are a number of technical reasons for the latest delays on the Crosstown, including 260 quality issues that must be rectified. Despite the depressing news that Torontonians won’t be riding the rails in 2023, government officials remain optimistic that regular service could be achieved in 2024.

 

 

*Chaplin Station. Image courtesy of Metrolinx, with thanks.

 

 


 

Are you seeking special? Check out this listing we RECENTLY SOLD, that we called: A Panoramic Penthouse Perch In Forest Hill. It was mere steps to the Eglinton Crosstown’s new Chaplin Station (above)!!

As Toronto – the City of Neighbourhoods – exponentially explodes with hundreds of construction cranes building predominantly high-density towers, Buyers navigating the real estate market in the central core of the City are discovering the quest to secure a more spacious boutique residence is increasingly challenging. Especially if one desires to be well-situated in a Triple-A neighbourhood with excellent transit, superb access to green space, and everyday amenities within walking distance.

This generous one-bedroom penthouse suite (it used to be two bedrooms!) is over 1000 square feet, with a large south-facing terrace of almost 300 square feet! Dreamy!

 

 


 

We also SOLD an aging bungalow in Oakwood Village, which we called  An Opportunity To Transform A Vintage Bungalow.

It was located just steps the Crosstown LRT’s new Oakwood Station!

 

 


 

And the new owners of ‘Easy, Breezy Living On Wynford Heights Crescent In Reputable Wynford Place‘, – NOW SOLD – are already enjoying easy access to the Crosstown!

 

 


 

*Title Image courtesy of BlogTO, with thanks.

 

Want to have someone on your side?

Since 1991, I’ve steered my career through a real estate market crash and burn; survived a slow painful cross-country recession; completed an M.E.S. graduate degree from York University called ‘Planning Housing Environments’; executed the concept, sales & marketing of multiple new condo and vintage loft conversions; and guided hundreds of clients through the purchase and sale of hundreds of freehold and condominium dwellings across the original City of Toronto. From a gritty port industrial city into a glittering post-industrial global centre, I’ve navigated the ebbs and flows of a property market as a consistent Top Producer. And I remain as passionate about it today as when I started.

Consider contacting me at 416-845-9905 or email me at Steve@urbaneer.com. It would be my pleasure to personally introduce our services.

We’d love to introduce your services to you.

Serving first and second-time Buyers, relocations, renovators, and those building their long-term property portfolios, our mandate is to help clients choose the property which will realize the highest future return on their investment while ensuring the property best serves their practical needs and their dream of “Home” during their ownership.

Are you considering selling? We welcome providing you with a comprehensive assessment free of charge, including determining your Buyer profile, ways to optimize your return on investment, and tailoring the listing process to suit your circumstance. Check out How Urbaneer’s Custom Marketing Program Sold This Authentic Broadview Loft In Riverside to learn more about what we do!

Consider letting Urbaneer guide you through your Buying or Selling process, without pressure, or hassle.

We are here to help!

 

 

Thanks for reading!

 

-The Urbaneer Team

Steven Fudge, Sales Representative
& The Innovative Urbaneer Team
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage – (416) 322-800

 

– we’re here to earn your trust, then your business –

Celebrating Thirty-One Years As A Top-Producing Toronto Realtor

 

*Did you know we were recently listed as one of The Top 25 Toronto Real Estate Agents To Follow On Twitter! – The Top 50 Blogs On Toronto – and The Top 100 Real Estate Blogs In Canada? Consider signing up in the box below to receive our FREE monthly e-newsletter on housing, culture and design including our love for unique urban homes and other Toronto real estate!

*Love Canadian Housing? Check out Steve’s University Student Mentorship site called Canadian Real Estate, Housing & Home which focuses on architecture, landscape, design, products, and real estate in Canada!

 

Previous Post
What’s The Difference Between Condominiums And Co-Ownership?
Next Post
We Love Sorauren Park In Roncesvalles Village