TTC looking to Portlands for its storage facility

By DAVID NICKLE (The Mirror) The exact site for the $345 million light rail transit vehicle garage hasn't been finalized, but one way or another, it looks as though the Toronto Transit Commission will be putting the structure somewhere in or near the Portlands. The maintenance and storage facility is part of the package in the city's still-unfunded plan to purchase 204 new low-floor light rail vehicles to replace Toronto's aging streetcar fleet.

That plan, worth $1.2 billion, would precede the funded plan to purchase slightly modified light rail vehicles to ply the new Transit City lines in the inner suburbs.

The new facility would replace the city's existing two streetcar carhouses, which aren't configured to deal with the new designs.

And transit officials have narrowed the location of the new garage down to six sites in the Portlands:

- Ashbridges Bay at Leslie Street and Lakeshore Boulevard East;

- Eastern Avenue at 601, 629 and 633 - the site of Toronto Film Studios, where SmartCentres is fighting for the right to build a big-box retail complex;

- Two sites on Unwin Avenue; one at the old Hearn Generating station, and one to the west on Toronto Economic Development Company-owned lands;

- The concrete plant at Commissioner Street and Leslie Street;

- The Cascade Site at Commissioners Street and Basin Street.

The TTC will be holding community consultations about the options next week. In the meantime, local city councillors are worried.

"It all appears to be unfolding at breakneck speed," said Toronto Danforth Councillor Paula Fletcher. "It's all based on the assumption that they have to have a really large site."

Fletcher said the TTC should consider looking to split the 22 acre site into two smaller ones - a site for storage and a site for maintenance. She called the notion of a single large site on the waterfront "silly" and said the portlands would be problematic.

Beaches-East York Councillor Sandra Bussin, meanwhile, is worried about the prospect of using Ashbridges Bay as the main site.

"I'm not very happy about it," she said. "They're trying to do this pretty fast."

The consultations will be happening Tuesday, June 16 between 6:30 and 9 p.m. at the Jimmy Simpon Recreation Centre at 870 Queen St. E. and two more June 17 and 18 at the Fire and EMS Academy's auditorium at 896 Eastern Ave.

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