June 1, 1924, Vol. 14, No. 6 Judgments, orders, regulations and rulings (Ottawa) Page 67

Re proposed Northwest-Grade Separation, Toronto



Hon. F. B. Carvell, K.C, Chief Commissioner:

In the month of November, 1922, the city of Toronto made application to this Board for an order that the Canadian Pacific Railway Company and the Canadian National Railways be required to collaborate with the corporation in the preparation of a joint plan for the separation of grades in the northwestern portion of the city of Toronto.

Parties were heard at Toronto on the 14th of February, 1923, when, after considerable discussion it was suggested that the city and the two railway companies endeavour to arrive at a satisfactory agreement among themselves. A great many conferences were held and, we believe, an honest attempt was made by all parties concerned, to arrive at a conclusion, but as they failed to do so, the case finally came on for hearing at Toronto on the 8th day of January, 1924, when separate proposals were made by the city of Toronto, Canadian Pacific and Canadian National Railways.

Generally speaking, the application as developed involved,—

  1. Grade separation at all level street crossings now existing on the Canadian Pacific double track known as the Galt Subdivision, the Canadian National double track Brampton Division and the Canadian Pacific single track known as the Toronto, Grey and Bruce, from Bloor street north to and including St. Clair avenue and also including Wallace avenue, Humberside avenue, and Junction road, at which there are no level street crossings at the present time.
  2. Subways at all level street crossings on the Canadian Pacific Railway North Toronto line, from the West Toronto diamonds eastwardly to and including Bartlett avenue, as well as grade separations at Primrose and Perth avenues, at which points there are now no level crossings.
  3. Subways at all level street crossings on the Canadian National Newmarket Subdivision from Bloor street northerly to and including St. Clair avenue and also grade separations at Wallace avenue and Lappin avenue, at which points there are now no level crossings.

The Canadian Pacific filed plans and made proposals proposing grade separations on the first of the lines above mentioned at Bloor street, Royce avenue and St. Clair avenue, and on their North Toronto line, being the second above mentioned at all street crossings proposed by the city, with the exception of Perth and Primrose avenues.

The Canadian National proposed a cut-off from a point some distance north on their Newmarket subdivision running southwesterly and connecting with their Brampton Subdivision just north of St. Clair avenue, thereby proposing that all their trains should run over this cut-off and the Brampton Subdivision to and from the city, leaving the Newmarket Subdivision purely as an industrial and switching track and suggested that there be no grade separations on that subdivision.

The city proposed the elevation of the tracks on the main double track lines, being the first line herein referred to, commencing at a point about 4,000 feet south of Bloor street and reaching an elevation of ten feet above the present track level at Wallace avenue; continuing the same elevation beyond Royce avenue, with an excavation 8 1/2 feet deep between the West Toronto diamonds and St. Clair avenue, and suggested that all tracks on these lines be bunched together leaving sufficient space for six tacks, the objects being to shorten the subways and reduce consequent land damages.

The city also proposed the elevation of tracks on the North Toronto line from 4 1/2 to 6 1/2 feet, and the elevation of tracks on the Newmarket Subdivision, nearly corresponding to the proposed elevation on the main double track lines. The Canadian Pacific objected to the elevation of tracks on the main double track line to any extent, and also to the bunching of tracks as suggested by the city, on two grounds. First, that it would seriously interfere with the traffic possibilities, as it would increase the grade from 0.84 to something over 1 per cent, and secondly, that such an elevation would seriously interfere with the service to existing branch lines or industrial spurs.

Both railway companies objected to the bunching of tracks or in any way contracting the available trackage space as it is the main entrance of both railways from the north into the city of. Toronto, and they objected to any curtailment of the possibilities of further development which would result from a contraction of the existing space. The Canadian Pacific proposed elevating their tracks on the North Toronto division, generally speaking, from 1 1/2 feet to 3 1/2 feet less than that proposed by the city, claiming that the elevations which they were proposing were absolutely the limit consistent with the proper operaion of industrial spurs as they are now located.

The Canadian National proposed the elevation of the tracks on the main double track line somewhat less than that proposed by the city, but reaching the same elevation, namely, ten feet at Royce avenue, but objected to any elevation of tracks on the Newmarket subdivision excepting about three or four feet at the diamond at the crossing of the Newmarket North Toronto Canadian Pacific Subdivisions necessary to meet the proposed elevation of the North Toronto grade.

If the city's proposal should be carried out, it would greatly decrease land damages, because the subway approaches would not extend nearly as far away from the tracks as they would if the subways were constructed under the tracks at the existing levels, moreover, the elevation of the tracks would probably make it possible to construct subways in future more easily than it could otherwise be done, but on the other hand there would be an increase in cost in elevating the tracks.

The territory served by the three railways as above described is the great industrial centre of the city of Toronto and probably the greatest industrial centre in Canada, and I feel it would be a great mistake to do anything which would hamper access to and from these industries or in any way tend to discourage not only present conditions but expansion, and therefore feel that the tracks should not be elevated except where absolutely necessary, and then only to the minimum height, in order to carry out necessary improvements.

The matter must be looked at not only from the standpoint of the grades on the railway tracks, but also from the standpoint of the grades on the industrial sidings, serving industries tributary to the railways. For example, on the Galt subdivision of the Canadian Pacific Railway, the Canadian National double track Brampton division, and the Canadian Pacific single-track line known as the Toronto, Grey and Bruce, the maximum grade at present is 0.84 per cent. If the city's plan were followed, this would increase the grade to 1.04 per cent, thus distinctly lessening the operating efficiency of the railways.

On the railway plans as filed, the maximum grade proposed on the industrial sidings on the lines above mentioned, as well as on the Canadian Pacific North Toronto line, is 2 per cent. This is the same maximum which was adopted by the Board in the case of the industrial sidings on the North Toronto Grade Separation. To adopt, as is set out in various portions of the city's plan, industrial siding grades in excess of 2 per cent would not only curtail the facilities of the industries concerned, but would also interfere with the economic operation of the railway trackage. I also think it would be very unwise to bunch together existing tracks thereby restricting the use by the railways of any land now possessed by them in their entrance to the city of Toronto. While no doubt for many years sufficient room would be left after taking away 40 or 50 feet of land, but it is the principal entrance from the north to the city of Toronto, which to-day is the second largest city in Canada, and which without doubt will be one of the greatest cities of the continent, and for the small amount of money to be saved I think it would be a great mistake to in any way interfere with further requirements in the way of traffic.

While no doubt the construction of the cut-off herein referred to might be an advantage to the Canadian National Railways from an operating standpoint, yet I feel sure that the retention of the Newmarket Subdivision from Bloor street to St. Clair avenue as an industrial proposition will be productive of such interference with street traffic with resulting danger to the public, as will necessitate, in the interests of public safety, grade separations at points hereinafter referred to, where the street traffic is congested. The maintenance of these tracks, for industrial purposes, will involve a great deal of switching. That switching must be carried on in congested areas over street crossings at grade where traffic is dense, and would unquestionably prove a menace to public safety. This Board has become convinced that switching movements in congested areas are as dangerous as, and probably more dangerous, by reason of their frequency and uncertainty than regular train movements, and the Board's record of fatal accidents (one of recent date in the city of Toronto over purely industrial tracks, involving the loss of two lives) abundantly substantiate this statement. To limit the hours during which switching movements can be carried on in a congested industrial area, in a city the size of Toronto, is not possible without serious interference with traffic and imposing serious inconvenience upon the important interests concerned therein. Due consideration having been given to all these factors, I am satisfied that in the interest of public safety and having regard to all other considerations as to convenience of and non-interference with the traffic tributary to this area, this line should not be retained for industrial purposes without separation of grade at congested grade crossings.

It is my view, therefore, that the whole situation should be settled now on lines which this Board considers just and proper, having regard to the paramount consideration of public safety, and if the Canadian National Railways are desirous of building a cut-off it must be done by them as a transportation policy and not under direction of this Board as part of a general scheme to render more safe the operation of railways in this portion of the city of Toronto.

The reference above made to the elevation of tracks and their consequent interference with the proper use of industrial spurs applied to spur lines on the Newmarket Subdivision as well as on the double track lines, and therefore I am unable to agree with the city's contention as to either the elevation of tracks or the bunching of the same, or with the Canadian National Railways' proposition as to the construction of the cut-off and the elimination of any grade separation on the Newmarket Subdivision.

The city and the Canadian Pacific Railway proposed an overhead bridge at St. Clair avenue. The Canadian- National Railway, however, proposed a subway, on the ground that it answered the purpose just as well and would be considerably cheaper. This seems to be admitted by the Canadian Pacific Railway and the city, and therefore I think there should be a subway at this point rather than an overhead bridge. The city proposed a subway at Junction road, which was not in the Canadian Pacific Railway proposals. It is my opinion that this is necessary, as far east as Miller street, and I think it should be constructed, but it seems to me that the overhead bridge on Weston road should be eliminated, as both do not seem necessary. I know it makes the traffic along the Weston road into the city a little more circuitous and possibly a little more lengthy, but with subways at Keele street. Junction road, Osier and Royce avenues, further maintenance of this bridge would be unnecessary.

I, therefore, think an order should issue laying down the following principles for grade separations on the railways herein referred to as follows:—

  1. On the main double track lines herein referred to as Galt, Brampton and Toronto, Grey and Bruce subdivisions there should be no change in grade or interference with the width of right of way, and there should be subways constructed at Bloor street, Royce avenue. Junction road and St. Clair avenue, all these subways to be the full width of the street with 14-foot clearances, the Junction road subway to extend as far east as Miller street. If the city desire a continuance thereof to Davenport road it would be a matter for them to work out as they thought best, the present Weston road bridge to be eliminated ; the Royce avenue subway to involve the acquisition of additional land and the construction of a diversion of Dundas street as set forth on the Canadian Pacific Railway plan.
  2. Track elevation and grade separations on the Canadian Pacific Railway North Toronto line, according to the plan filed by the Canadian Pacific Railway, and including subways at Osier avenue, Symington street, Lansdowne avenue, Dufferin street and Bartlett avenue, all to be the full width of street and 14-foot clearances.
  3. Subways to be constructed on the Newmarket Subdivision at Bloor street, Royce avenue, Davenport road and St. Clair avenue, all to be the full width of street and 14-foot clearances, and in all these cases, if the city requires greater clearances than 14 feet, which is the statutory standard, the same to be granted, the additional expense, however, to be borne entirely by the city.

I think it unnecessary to make any reference to the question of costs, because there is not very much difference in the ultimate cost of any of the schemes proposed, but the general proposals herein laid down are based more upon the requirements of the industries of the city of Toronto and the operation of the railways both at the present and the future, and the laying down of a comprehensive scheme of grade separation in that portion of the city, than upon the mere question of cost, although, of course, that should play an important part in any matters of this kind.

Copies of this judgment and the order based hereon to be sent to all interested parties and another hearing to be held at the earliest possible date, for the purpose of settling all details of an engineering nature, the distribution of cost and the time and method of carrying out the work herein provided for.

May 8, 1924.

Assistant Chief Commissioner McLean and Commissioners Boyce and Lawrence concurred.

Commissioner Oliver:

I agree with the judgment of the Chief Commissioner in so far as the subways across the tracks of the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railways from Bloor street to St. Clair avenue, inclusive, are concerned, and also in regard to subways on the North Toronto connection of the Canadian Pacific.

As to the Newmarket subdivision of the National Railway, my opinion is that all interests would be best served by establishing a connection between the Newmarket and Brampton subdivisions at some point west of St. Clair avenue, and routing all trains, both freight and passenger, moving between Toronto central station and that junction, over the double track lines. If this were done, as suggested by Mr. H. M. McLeod, the section of the Newmarket line from which traffic had thus been diverted, would be used only as an industrial spur, and therefore subways would not be necessary.

Under present street traffic conditions, there is greater danger to life and limb, both of pedestrian and auto passengers, in the ordinary traffic of a busy street, than at a level railway crossing where train movements are infrequent and at a low rate of speed.

In the province of Ontario in 1923 there were 236 fatal and 2,348 nonfatal accidents from motors, motor-cycles and trucks. In the same period there were 117 fatal and 202 non-fatal accidents from railroads. This danger of street traffic must always be present, so long as persons unskilled, or of careless temperament, drive cars. A subway adds to the ordinary danger of the street, therefore subways should be avoided, so far as that can be done consistently with the public convenience and safety.

A subway is a detriment to the business interests of the street which passes through it. It breaks the continuity; to the great detriment of business on either one side or the other of it. This is largely because the subway practically kills business for the whole of its length. By the city plan the Bloor street and Davenport road subways would each be over 800 feet in length and the St. Clair avenue subway over 1,000.

The Newmarket subdivision of the National and the double track lines of the Canadian Pacific Railway and National parallel each other at a distance of 1,300 feet at Bloor street and of 2,800 feet at St. Clair venue. On Bloor the ends of the subways would be only 550 to 600 feet apart. On Royce, Davenport road and St. Clair avenue, they would be from 1,800 to 1,900 feet. Subways so near together would not only destroy the value of the property fronting on them, but would seriously lessen the value of the intervening property as well. This decrease of value could not be taken into account in considering damage claims; the property owners would simply have to suffer the loss.

The distance between Bloor street and Royce street is 3,150 feet. Three streets parallel to Bloor and Royce serve the area between. The centre one of the three, Wallace avenue is the only one now opened through and crossing the Newmarket tracks. If through traffic is to move over the Newmarket subdivision as at present, and Wallace avenue is left open and without a subway as contemplated, the danger and inconvenience now complained of will remain, so far as it is concerned. The alternative is to close Wallace and block all cross travel between Bloor and Royce, or construct an additional subway across the Newmarket tracks on Wallace, with no corresponding subway across the double tracks.

The proposed subway at the Davenport road crossing of the Newmarket tracks is entered on its westerly side close to the railway right of way, and therefore at the maximum depth of the subway, by Station road which is only half the width of an ordinary street. The driver of an automobile in the Davenport road subway could not see the near approach of an automobile by way of Station road, neither could a driver on Station road see an automobile in the Davenport subway. The point of junction of Station road with the Davenport subway would be from seven to nine feet below the surface level; the depth depending upon the elevation of the tracks and on the clearance allowed in the subway. With possibly hundreds of automobiles passing through the subway in a day, it would be impossible to estimate the danger incurred, but it must be immeasurably greater than an ordinary level railway crossing having only a moderate movement of traffic.

At the proposed St. Clair subway under the Newmarket tracks a like condition prevails to that at Davenport road. Station road enters the St. Clair subway from the east under precisely similar circumstances, and necessarily with similar consequences. Caledonia street also enters the subway but from the west, practically doubling the danger.

Instead of removing danger at the crossings of Davenport road and St. Clair avenue, the construction of subways as above described creates a new danger, greatly in excess of that at present existing, and immeasurably greater than would result from leaving the crossings as they are if the through railway traffic were altogether diverted from that line.

By routing all through traffic, now going over the Newmarket Subdivision, by way of the National main line, there would only be a switching movement on that subdivision to meet the requirements of the industries served by it. With traffic so limited, it would be possible and proper to open Paton road and Antler-Lappin avenues, as well as Wallace, across the Newmarket tracks and thereby and greatly to the convenience of residence and business on these streets on both sides of the tracks. In order that there might be neither inconvenience nor danger resulting, it would be possible to restrict switching movements to certain hours in early morning, mid-forenoon, mid-afternoon and late at night, so that there would be absolute assurance of no interference with the street traffic during hours when such traffic might be congested or urgent.

The cost of the connection or cut-off proposed by Mr. McLeod is placed by him at $810,000, including land damages. The construction of four subways tinder the Newmarket Subdivision with land damages, is estimated by the city to cost roughly $1,800,000. If a subway at Wallace avenue is added, the cost would be increased by $167,000, making a total of nearly $2,000,000.

If the public safety or convenience demanded the expenditure of the larger sum required for subways under the Newmarket track, that must be accepted as sufficient reason for its being spent. But, believing that the safety and convenience of the public would be better served by diversion of the traffic, I do not consider that an order should be made that would compel the larger expenditure.

For the foregoing reasons I would respectfully recommend that the judgment of the Chief Commissioner be varied in that part relating to the Newmarket Subdivision, to read as follows:—

  1. That the National Railways construct a connection between the Newmarket Subdivision and the double track main line of the Canadian National Railway, west of St. Clair avenue, according to plan and profile shown by Mr. McLeod.
  2. That after such construction no through traffic be allowed to pass over the Newmarket Subdivision between Toronto Union Station and the junction west of St. Clair avenue.
  3. That there be no switching movements on the Newmarket Subdivision except during certain hours in early morning, mid-forenoon, mid-afternoon and late at night, as shall be fixed by an Order of this Board, and that under no circumstances shall an engine or car remain stationary on any street crossing for more than such number of minutes as may be permitted by standing order of the Board.
  4. That the railway consents to Paton road being opened across the track of the Newmarket Subdivision and that connection between Antler and Lappin avenues also be permitted to be made across that track, if and when the city so requests.

Ottawa, May 9, 1924.

Railways: C.N.Rys., C.P.Ry.

Stations: Davenport, St. Clair Avenue