Brand new streetcar tracks struggling with flooding in south Etobicoke, rider says

Amid heavy rain, one Etobicoke resident says his transit stop looks more like a swimming pool.

Transit user blasts road redesign, but city hall says a blocked catch basin may be to blame

Etobicoke resident Steve Ulrich says the newly-installed streetcar tracks on Lake Shore Boulevard West flood whenever it rains, and there's little to keep transit users dry as they wait for their ride. (Petar Valkov/CBC)

Amid heavy rain, one Etobicoke resident says his transit stop looks more like a swimming pool.

Steve Ulrich takes the TTC from the booming Park Lawn and Lake Shore area of south Etobicoke. The city just installed brand new streetcar tracks on Lake Shore Boulevard West, but Ulrich says the redesign can't handle wet weather.

"The flooding, in my opinion, has gotten worse than it was before the construction," he told CBC Toronto.

"Makes you wonder what our tax dollars are paying for if the flooding wasn't resolved."

City officials are blaming the weather, not the road. Days of rain and melting snow have led to "significant runoff," said Ellen Leesti, a spokesperson for Toronto Water.

"This extreme water runoff has identified a potential blockage in the one of the catch basin drain systems in the area on Lake Shore Blvd West," Leesti said by email.

While city crews are working on fixing that, there are no plans to change roadway's design.

Right now, only buses are running on the newly-built tracks due to construction further down the line. Ulrich says he's concerned the recent flooding will damage the tracks, delaying the return of streetcars to the line.  

Leesti says the tracks are built with high strength concrete, so there are no concerns about the ponding water causing lasting damage. Meanwhile, two track drains have been added during the construction to keep the route dry.

Regardless, she encourages anyone who spots flooding to call 311.

Transit a struggle in area

Ulrich says taking transit in the area is "already a struggle" but it's something he's committed to doing, even though he owns a car.

Still, on Tuesday morning, his frustration was evident during a phone interview.

Ulrich crossed illegally to get to the island because the crosswalk was underwater, then spent several minutes hoping to not get sprayed by passing cars.

"My legs are already wet … there's not many places to go when you're in the middle of the road on a streetcar island and cars are flying by," he said.

About the Author

John Rieti

John Rieti covers city hall and city issues for CBC Toronto. Born and raised in Newfoundland, John has worked in CBC newsrooms across the country in search of great stories. Outside of work, catch him running or cycling around, often armed with a camera, always in search of excellent coffee.