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Leveraging LRT

One of the biggest pieces of infrastructure currently under construction in Toronto is the Crosstown LRT line, which will run on and under Eglinton Avenue right through the heart of midtown. The total length of the line is 19 km, and 10 km of it will be underground along with 12 of its stations.

Here’s a map:

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But as the Chief Planner of Toronto, Jennifer Keesmaat, rightly pointed out in this blog post earlier this year, it’s important to think of this line, not just as a piece of transit infrastructure, but as a broader city building initiative. With this line comes a tremendous opportunity to rethink and rebuild one of Toronto’s most important avenues.

I have no doubt that this will happen over the coming years and decades. I mean, just look at the development activity taking place on St. Clair Avenue West right now, which you could argue is the result of its right-of-way streetcar line. But in this instance, what I’m specifically curious about is what will happen at each of the stations along Eglinton Avenue.

If you take a look at the Stations and Stops page on the Crosstown website, you can see where all of the primary and secondary entrances will be and how each station will generally function. But what is not clear is whether we will be using this opportunity to build additional density on top of them.

Here’s how they have “blocked out” the primary entrance for Avenue station:

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I have no idea what it’ll become. But if it ends up as single-storey and single-purpose building, then I think we will have missed an opportunity. And the same goes for many, if not all, of the other stations along the Eglinton Crosstown line. Fixed rail is such a massive driver of real estate value, and so it seems silly not to take advantage of that in some way.

If anyone has any insights into how these stations will or will not be developed, I would love to hear from you in the comment section below.

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