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New carhouse at Lake Shore and Leslie?

Last June, the TTC and City of Toronto held public open houses to offer members of the public the opportunity to review and comment on six possible sites for a new carhouse in Toronto.

Last week, City and TTC staff made a presentation to the Port Lands Action Committee that narrows the choice down to just one site. Staff prefer the southeast corner of Lake Shore Boulevard East and Leslie Street, near the Ashbridges Bay Water Treatment Plant for the new facility.

The TTC must find a site soon so that it can build a new facility to store and maintain streetcars by 2013. In late 2012, Bombardier Inc. will deliver six prototype low-floor streetcars for the TTC to test on City streets. In 2013 and every year afterward until 2018, it will deliver 36 new cars for the TTC to add to its active streetcar fleet. By 2018, the TTC will operating 204 of the new light-rail vehicles.

The problem is: the new streetcars are almost twice as long as the TTC’s current cars, the CLRVs (Canadian Light Rail Vehicles). While the TTC could update and expand its current carhouses, Roncesvalles and Russell (or “Connaught”), both facilities are more than 80 years old and to expand either would mean intruding into nearby residential neighbourhoods.

A lot has to happen before the TTC and City can build the new facility. City Council still has to approve this site and give the “go-ahead” to City and TTC staff to negotiate with the Toronto Port Authority to buy the land. And Council could also decide that this site isn’t what it wants and send staff back to the drawing board.

But the timetable is tight. The TTC needs to complete the preliminary design and start the environmental assessment process this fall. It must finish the final design by the middle of 2010, so construction can start early in 2011.

If Council approves this site, the TTC must also design and build the new facility so it does not visually intrude into the waterfront recreational area and build it to reduce any noise. New streetcar tracks will lead to and from the facility along Leslie Street to join the current track network at Queen Street East.

You can view the presentation of the Port Lands Action Committee here. (2.14 MB .pdf)