Eglinton Crosstown construction zone an 'unsafe situation,' say condo staff, residents
Reduced visibility, narrowed driveway among safety concerns of 1750 Bayview Avenue residents
Sitting in a common area at her midtown Toronto condo, Norma Fisher plays a video on her laptop. It's from her car's dash cam, pointed out the driver's side window, showing her regular drive out of the condo parking lot — past hoarding, "danger" signs, and pylons.
According to Fisher — the condo board president for the building at Bayview and Eglinton avenues — it's a potentially dangerous stretch, all thanks to ongoing Eglinton Crosstown LRT construction. "You really can only see the cars just as they're coming to our driveway," she said.
And for three years, that's just been one of Fisher's safety concerns.
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Residents of the low-rise at 1750 Bayview Avenue told CBC Toronto they have been dealing with various possible safety issues stemming from the ongoing construction, including reduced visibility for drivers and pedestrians outside the condo, a narrowed driveway, and changes to pedestrian routes.
The residents also expressed concern that Metrolinx, the provincial agency building the LRT route, isn't doing enough to mitigate their concerns in a timely manner.
"It was a problem back in 2015, it's a problem now," Fisher said. "We just can't get a resolution."
Narrowed driveway an 'unsafe situation'
Property manager Lyndsey McNally is among those worried about safety issues stemming from construction of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT line, which will be a 19-kilometre, partially-underground route when it's completed in 2021.
On a walk around the low-rise condo building, she pointed out multiple concerns the building's staff have flagged to Metrolinx over the past few years. The driveway area, narrowed by fencing and equipment, is an "unsafe situation" where both drivers and pedestrians can't properly see oncoming traffic, she said.
While she acknowledged that Metrolinx has provided workers to direct traffic, she said that's only during working hours — not when construction has stopped for the day.
McNally also expressed concern that the construction forces the building's residents to take a winding route to exit the building. "We do have a higher population of elderly residents, and some of them have disabilities," she said, adding those residents now have a more difficult, extended walk just to get to the grocery store across the street.
Ward 22 Coun. Josh Matlow said residents in his area, including those at 1750 Bayview Avenue, are living on the "front lines" of the LRT construction.
"Every time they reach out to Metrolinx to mitigate those impacts to help them out ... there's a lot of promises," he added. "I do know that the residents in that building are increasingly frustrated with the kind of response they've received from Metrolinx."
'We respond to every email, every concern'
Fisher and McNally said the agency has been responsive through thousands of back-and-forth emails, and has made changes to construction set-ups over the years, such as removing a wooden panel on a fenced pedestrian walkway to increase visibility.
But both feel the solutions are typically reactive, not proactive steps to ensure safety — something the residents find alarming with several more years of construction still ahead.
Metrolinx, however, said it has made ongoing efforts to speak to residents and provide information about construction work in advance, including the potential impacts.
"We do have regular communication with them, regular meetings with folks; we respond to every email, every concern, very, very quickly," said Jamie Robinson, director of community relations and communications for Metrolinx's rapid transit projects.
Robinson said the agency is doing "everything possible" to minimize disruptions, including having adequate signage and bringing in health and safety experts to look at the construction sites.
Still, Fisher feels more could be done to ensure driver and pedestrian safety in the traffic-heavy area.
"That's all we're asking: Make this environment safer," she said. "We didn't make this situation — Metrolinx made this situation."