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City works to avoid another right-of-way clash

Last Updated: Friday, February 16, 2007 | 12:11 PM ET
CBC News

As a section of St. Clair Avenue’s controversial streetcar right-of-way runs for the first time Sunday, the City of Toronto hopes the lessons learned will reduce problems with future projects.

Construction halted all streetcars on the route for the past 19 months and fuelled fierce criticism from some in the community, especially from a local citizen’s group.

Area store owners complained of losing business because the raised median prevented drivers from turning in many locations.

But Coun. Joe Mihevc, vice-chair of the Toronto Transit Commission, said criticism has lessened in the past few months.

“The improvements that would happen to public transit, the way the parking is not going to be taken off and the possibility that this might go a long way to revitalizing the street.… The tide quickly turned,” Mihevc said.

The city hopes to ease problems with future streetcar right-of-way projects by sending surveys to businesses and residents in the affected communities.

The next right-of-way projects are slated for the streetcar routes on Don Mills Road and Kingston Road.

“We sent a survey to 13,000 residents, informing them that we were going to be looking at Kingston Road for improved transit, and asked them a lot of questions about how they get around, where do they live, where do they work, how do they get there,” said Rod McPhail, the city’s transportation planner.

On Feb. 18, streetcars will temporarily begin running along the entire St. Clair Avenue route during the winter construction lull.

When the weather warms up, replacement buses will be back in use for the full line.

Sunday’s partial opening of the line will be from the St. Clair Avenue West station near Bathurst Avenue east to Yonge Street.