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McNicoll Garage

Text by James Bow and Jelo Gutierrez Cantos

Opened on March 18, 2021, McNicoll Garage became the ninth active TTC bus garage on the network. Located northeast of the Kennedy/McNicoll intersection, the new 29,000 square metre facility will offer space to store and maintain 250 buses, feeling and cleaning stations as well as traffic offices to dispatch operators. It will also be an energy-efficient building conforming to Toronto’s Green Standard, with provisions made for stormwater retention, the storage and collection of recycling and organic waste, and on-site renewable energy.

A Need For More Space

The first plans for a bus garage materialized at the start of the 21st century as the TTC contemplated a Ridership Growth Strategy, increasing ridership to above half a billion passengers per year. A site for a garage was acquired at the corner of McNicoll and Kennedy, and plans for a facility were drawn up as early as 2004. However, Toronto mayor David Miller and TTC Chairman Adam Giambrone cancelled the project as they launched their proposed Transit City network of LRT lines. By replacing buses on Finch West, Sheppard East and Eglinton Avenue, the TTC could reduce its bus fleet, reducing pressure on the current bus garages.

However, these plans were stymied with the election of Rob Ford as mayor of Toronto in 2010. The LRT lines on Sheppard East and Finch West were cancelled, then re-instated on a long delay. Meanwhile, the TTC’s ridership continued to increase, with the city’s bus network coming under increased strain. By 2014, there was a shortfall of space at the TTC’s other garages. The need for a facility at McNicoll was clear, but the project was estimated to cost $181 million. Worse, as area residents learned that the TTC was proceeding with the planned garage that had lain dormant for the past decade, they objected strongly to the city council, forcing the TTC to redesign the facility to alleviate concerns about noise and traffic.

Looking at Concord

On February 2, 2015, the City of Toronto approved the TTC’s request to purchase 50 new buses from NovaBus to expand peak service, with deliveries to occur later in 2015 and 2016. By this point, the crowding at the TTC’s current bus garages was such that the TTC decided they needed to lease a temporary facility to accommodate these buses.

After an extensive search, a former York Region Transit bus garage at 8301 Keele Street in the northern Vaughan community of Concord was deemed suitable, and possibly available for operation in early 2016. The TTC hoped that this facility could maintain and store the 50 new buses, with potential for the further storage and maintenance of up to 90 buses. The TTC recommended approving a lease at its meeting on June 21, 2015.

The TTC’s enthusiasm for the new site ebbed, however, as the logistics of converting the site to TTC operation proved to be less advantageous than earlier thought. By November 2015, the TTC fully changed its mind, and the proposed Concord bus garage lease was cancelled. The TTC made do with the space it had and set about starting the construction of McNicoll garage.

Construction and commissioning

Work began on the McNicoll Garage site at 225 Milliken Boulevard on June 12, 2017. The complex included space to store and maintain up to 250 buses with the indoor bus storage with bays as well as outside parking. In compliance with Toronto’s Green Standards, the garage building featured one of the largest green roofs built at that time in Canada, as well as solar panels and a metal transpired solar wall to harness solar energy to help heat the building.

The work was awarded a Judges’ Award at the Metal Architecture 2020 Design Awards. The facility was largely complete by June 2020, with staff occupying the building and buses maintained in the service bays during daytime hours. Full bus maintenance and operations were scheduled to ramp-up to full capacity effective March 28, 2021. It will also be the base for 100 maintenance employees and 600 operators.

On March 20, 2021, the garage was officially opened by Toronto Mayor John Tory and Scarborough-Agincourt City Councilor Nick Mantas with a tour followed afterwards.

Features

McNicoll consists of 7 40-foot hoists, 8 60-foot hoists, 3 inspection pits, 2 wash racks, 2 fuelling stations, administrative offices, support and ancillary areas to support the operations of the facility. When it opened, the garage can hold up to 250 buses with NOVA LFS 40102 and NOVA LFS ARTIC 60102 making up most of the fleet.


Routes

As of October 10, 2021, McNicoll operates the following routes:

Document Archive


McNicoll Garage Image Archive


References

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