July 16, 2021
The province has selected Clark Avenue in Thornhill as the location of the fourth stop on the $5.6-billion Yonge North subway extension.
Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney was joined by provincial, federal and municipal officials in York Region on Friday morning to announce the decision, which was first reported by the Star.
“The Yonge North Subway Extension will strengthen connectivity across the region, reduce travel times and greenhouse gas emissions, and provide more people with access to rapid transit. The new Clark Station is the clear choice to support all those key benefits,” Mulroney said in a statement.
The long-planned extension would push TTC’s Line 1 subway north to Richmond Hill, and has strong political support from elected leaders in York Region. The Ontario government and Metrolinx, which is the provincial agency in charge of transit expansion in the GTHA, had previously planned a version with up to six stops.
But in March the province announced that in order to stay within the project’s budget, the number of stations was being reduced to four, and a section of the line would be built above ground. Three “core” stations were announced at the time, with the province saying the fourth would require further study.
The stations previously announced were an underground stop at Steeles Avenue on the border with Toronto, and two above-ground stations: one at Highway 7 and Highway 407 called Bridge, and another at High Tech Road, near Richmond Hill Centre.
The options for the fourth station were Clark Avenue or Royal Orchard Boulevard in York Region, or Cummer Avenue in Toronto.
According to a Metrolinx analysis, the agency determined Clark was the best choice because it “offers more benefits at lower costs with less complexity of construction.” There would be 8,100 people and 1,900 jobs within a 10-minute walk of the stop by 2041.
The version of the extension with Clark is projected to attract 1,250 new daily riders compared to the three-stop base case, and the extra stop would cost about $250 million including capital work and property.
Provincial officials believe adding a fifth station to the extension could be possible if more funding became available, with Royal Orchard the preferred option.
Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti, a longtime booster of the subway plan, said at the announcement that the additional station at Clark on the border between Markham and Vaughan would connect the two communities and serve the area’s development plans.
“A Clark station was always envisioned as part of the Yonge North Subway Extension, so we’re extremely delighted that today it is finally approved,” he said. Scarpitti added that he hoped a station at Royal Orchard will also be included.
Like the previous three-stop version of the extension, the costs of the four-stop design will outweigh its benefits. Metrolinx predicts every $1 spent on the new station would return 60 cents worth of benefits, like improvements to local travel times and congestion.
With 2,500 total riders expected to use Clark at its busiest hour every day, the stop will also be far less busy than many existing TTC subway stations. Before the pandemic, demand at the TTC’s busiest station, Bloor-Yonge, reached more than 28,000 per hour in a single direction.
Provincial officials, speaking on background, said the government believes the Yonge extension and Clark station are still worth doing because of indirect benefits it would deliver, including creating construction jobs.
At Friday’s announcement, Mulroney said the government’s spending on the project was justified because in addition to providing more transit it would benefit the region in ways not captured in Metrolinx’s analysis.
“Our government is committed to the Yonge North Subway Extension because we know that it will bring the connectivity that people in York Region have been looking for for such a long time,” she said, adding that the subway would improve the quality of life for local residents by making it easier to access employment and educational opportunities.
The selection of Clark will leave unusually long gaps between stops on the 8-kilometre extension. The two northernmost stops at High Tech and Bridge would be roughly 400 metres apart, with Clark about 3.5 kilometres to the south. Steeles station would be one kilometre south of Clark.
The province has said it hopes to start construction on the extension by 2023, with completion scheduled for 2029 or 2030 following the Ontario Line entering service.
In May, the federal government announced it would help fund Yonge North as part of a $10.7-billion contribution to Premier Doug Ford’s Toronto-area transit plans.
- Toronto Star