Toronto

New gas pipeline proposal has waterfront residents feeling the burn

A group of waterfront residents is voicing concern about what they say is a plan by Enbridge Gas to dig a trench through the heart of the newly revitalized Queens Quay neighbourhood.

Queens Quay route is just 1 of 3 options, Enbridge says

Residents worry the recently beautified Queens Quay could be in for new construction if Enbridge Gas goes ahead with a plan to install new pipeline through the neighbourhood. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

A group of waterfront residents is voicing concern about what they say is a plan by Enbridge Gas to dig a trench through the heart of the newly revitalized Queens Quay neighbourhood.

Enbridge has been trying to decide on the alignment for a new natural gas pipeline to run roughly from Cherry Street to Bathurst Street close to the waterfront.

"Queens Quay seems to be the favoured route —  excavating the Martin Goodman trail bicycle path, which doesn't involve any traffic but does totally interfere with the bicycles, pedestrians and probably trees,"  Carolyn Johnson, co-chair of the York Quay Neighbourhood Association, said Tuesday.  

"And [it] would of course block access to any businesses and attractions on the south side of the street."

But Enbridge spokesperson Andrea Stass said it's too early to say what alignment the company will choose.

The new pipeline needs the approval of the Ontario Energy Board. Enbridge is due to take its plan to the board in March, but no work is expected to be done until 2021, Stass said.

She said the Queens Quay route is one of three possibilities.  Another envisions an underground pipeline that would run beneath Harbour Street; the other would bury the pipeline under Lakshore Boulevard.

Stass said the project is necessary because of the age and condition of the current pipe, which has been in operation since the 1950s. It meanders beneath Lakeshore Boulevard, Parliament Street, and Mill Street, roughly from Cherry Street to Bathurst Street.

A map showing the three possible alignments the new pipeline could follow in its route along the waterfront. (Enbridge Gas)

Johnson said waterfront residents are also frustrated because if the Queens Quay route is chosen, construction could seriously damage a revitalization project that was years in the making, and only recently completed.

"The whole street was a total disaster for three years. And we just wish that Enbridge had got their act together then, rather than coming along after the fact and removing perfectly good and relatively new infrastructure."

But Stass said planning for the revitalization of Queens Quay happened long before the decision to replace the pipeline.

"The revitalization project that has just been completed was actually proposed in 2009; given the passage of time, we actually didn't know what the demands [on the gas line] would be in 2021," she said.

"It is unfortunate that there is that space of time there."

'Vast quantities of tourists'

Johnson acknowledged that some might interpret her group's objection as NIMBYism.

"Unfortunately, they will," she said.

"But you see we are just a few residents on the street. But this place attracts vast quantities of tourists in the summertime, not to mention the [cyclists] who don't live here. So we are actually trying to stand up for a much wider area than just our residents."

Stass said Enbridge is still gathering public input on its project and hasn't yet settled on a route. 

"If there are people that are concerned and want to have feedback into that pipeline project, I truly encourage them to reach out to our environmental consultant," she said, "because that's the type of feedback they rely on when they're deciding what route to take."

Coun. Joe Cressy, who represents the neighbourhood, called the Queens Quay option "clearly not supportable."

But he also said Enbridge has committed to working with the city on the pipeline's alignment, "which is why I'm optimistic this will be resolved."

About the Author

Michael Smee

Reporter, CBC Toronto

Michael Smee has worked in print, radio, TV and online journalism for many years. You can reach him at michael.smee@cbc.ca

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