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Here's One for GTA Transit
10/03/2005

In the past, I've been bearish on the idea of amalgamated transit in the Greater Toronto Area. My position has been that the 905 region has been constructed in such a way that transit is not likely going to be feasible, and so throwing money at it is just a case of taking investment away from worthy transit projects in the city that would actually move good quantities of people.

However, I read something today that suggests I should at least reopen my verdict. The City of Mississauga has approved a 30-tower condominium project near Square One that will house about 12,000 people.

Mayor-for-life Hazel McCallion has been shifting her position recently. As Mississauga gets filled up, she is becoming an anti-sprawl advocate. She knows the best future for her city is intensification, combined with strategies to limit growth in the areas beyond. Here's a Hazel quote from the Globe and Mail:

All cities have expanded on the basis of urban sprawl and now we've hit a crisis situation where we can't rehabilitate our infrastructure to support that urban sprawl and we've got transportation problems because of urban sprawl, that we've not developed our cities based on public transit.

So, this condo project is part of a plan to build a "downtown". McCallion even said "We followed Jane Jacobs's recommendation that people should live in the city core... People shouldn't be turning lights off at night, there should be activity in the city core. The Amacon development certainly is going to produce the density that we believe is required to make a vibrant city core."

In the TTC's 2002 Rapid Transit Expansion Study (link PDF), one of the candidates that was quickly dismissed was the idea of extending the Bloor-Danforth subway line to Square One. The route would have continued the line from Kipling Station along the GO tracks, turning north at Hurontario into the Mississauga City Centre. This proposal was dropped for several reasons.

However, if Mississauga is serious about urbanizing itself, there are other transit options. They do have their own plan to build a "Transitway" along Highway 403, and this plan recently passed environmental assessment. Another option might be to build a reserved-right-of-way streetcar along Burnhamthorpe from the new development to either the Kipling or Islington subway station.

Anyway, the point is that most of 905 is not dense enough to support serious transit investment. However, if we are truly finally serious about stopping sprawl -- I'm not convinced yet -- and if intensification is going to happen, then transit may become viable there.


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