Key Message: Trail will open soon, pending 3rd party utility re-location. Final construction work will continue into September.
Dear Trail Users
I understand your frustration on this project. We are working to get this trail open as soon as possible. When we reopen, the safety of this trail, its surfaces, connection to the Bayview multi-use trail and the visitor experience will be greatly improved, but I realize it is hard to take comfort in these improvements while the trail remains closed.
Currently, we are waiting for a third-party utility that runs across the trail to be relocated so that final grades are acceptable for cyclists and do not impose a hazard. While this relocation is not the last of the work to be done, we expect that the trail will open after this work is completed. Additional safety protocols will be established to allow the final construction work to be completed while the trail remains open.
The Lower Don Trail is a major spine in the utility infrastructure of this city. Three high-pressure oil pipelines, a gas line, as well as a major high-speed fibre optic line are all hidden in the trail alignment. On top of this is the visible utility infrastructure of electrical corridors and two rail corridors, all sandwiched within this green oasis of a recreational trail. As a result, there is very little working room between the rail, Don Valley Parkway and the river.
Unusual high water and heavy rain this season has also affected the productivity of crews working in tight proximity to the river. Water levels of the Lower Don overflowed the banks in several areas of the project more than once this year, causing flooding in our work areas.
I do want to clarify the status on the permits required and the timing of the applications. The City consulted with both Metrolinx and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) about requirements and permits through the design process beginning in 2014. TRCA permits were completed in one step. Metrolinx requires permits be completed in a sequential process for each stage of work, as each stage is completed. Each submission takes several weeks to review and process and some of these permits have required several submissions. The most recent permit is a final re-submission for the last of 15 Metrolinx permits, which includes those needed by third-party utilities to relocate within the corridor as part of the project as well. This is the process for all Metrolinx permits for these types of projects.
There have been lessons learned in the permit review and approval process that will be applied to the next stage of Lower Don work, and indeed all future trail work. Also, I am working with staff to improve how we plan and communicate trail detours to reduce the effect on trail users. This work includes ensuring contractors are better able to safely maintain, to the fullest extent possible, public access to trails and public facilities during construction.
We look forward to the reopening and we hope you will attend the formal celebration of the improved trail later in the fall.
Manager, Construction Management & Capital Projects
Parks Development and Capital Projects
Parks Forestry and Recreation