The Eglinton Crosstown will finally get station names, but not before one last conference call today.
Map of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT showing the original working station names along the corridor
Metrolinx will hold a special meeting via teleconference today at 2:00 p.m. to determine—once and for all—the names of the stations along the 19-kilometre, 26-stop Eglinton Crosstown LRT now under construction. The new line, which is being constructed by the regional transport agency, is scheduled to open in September 2021, and according to ReNew magazine, is the largest infrastructure project in Canada by dollar value.
Today’s teleconference follows months of developing a standard approach to station names, public consultations, and debates at both the Metrolinx and TTC boards on the merits of each stop’s moniker.
Getting station names right is important. Station names should, where possible, be unique, intuitive, and simple enough that you can provide directions. Short station names are helpful as they’re easier to display on maps, signs and display boards.
In 2015, Metrolinx developed a decision tree [PDF] with these considerations in mind, in which priority is given to street names, followed by neighbourhood names and local landmarks for identifying stations, and looking to avoid duplicate names where possible. For example, Metrolinx didn’t want to have a “Keele” Station on the LRT, as it duplicates an existing station name on the Bloor-Danforth Subway.
Guided by these principles, Metrolinx staff recommended several name changes. Keele became “Silverthorne,” Dufferin became “Fairbank,” Bathurst would became “Forest Hill,” Avenue became “Oriole Park,” Bayview wbecame “Leaside,” and Don Mills became “Science Centre.”
In October, Metrolinx conducted an online consultation to test these proposed station names. Lo and behold, some names were very unpopular with the public. “Silverthorne” was not very representative of the Keele & Eglinton neighbourhood, others complained that they didn’t know where Fairbank was. (It’s the historic community name for the Eglinton and Dufferin intersection and the name of a nearby park most famous for the Fairbank Park scandal that sent two politicians to prison and launched Frances Nunziata’s [Ward 11, York South-Weston] career as a whistleblower.) Neither Forest Hill nor Leaside stations are in the centre of their historic communities, which also raised some concerns.
Taking public feedback into account, further changes were recommended. “Keelesdale” replaces “Silverthorne” at Keele Street, “Cedarvale” becomes the preferred name for the interchange station at Eglinton West (though the TTC has the final say), Oriole Park was renamed back to “Avenue”, and several surface stops east of Don Mills were also renamed, including Ferrand (to “Aga Khan”, as it’s adjacent to the culutral centre and museum), Victoria Park to “O’Connor” and Warden to “Golden Mile.”
But these changes didn’t satisfy a few Metrolinx board members. At its meeting in December 3, 2015, after passing a problematic GO Transit fare increase with minimal debate, it spent four times as long debating a few station names along the LRT corridor, namely the stops at Dufferin Street, Bathurst Street, and a surface stop at Lebovic Avenue in Scarborough. Toronto Star transportation reporter Tess Kalinowski called the station name debate the liveliest the board has ever seen.
I have covered the Metrolinx brd since it was born 8 yrs ago and this stn naming discussion is the liveliest I've ever seen here. #TOpoli
— Tess Kalinowski (@TessKalinowski) December 3, 2015
The TTC and several local politicians, led by Glenn De Baeremaeker (Ward 38, Scarborough Centre), wanted, for reasons unknown, to change the name at Lebovic (between Pharmacy and Warden Avenues) to “Hakimi.” Hakimi Avenue, named for Karim Hakim, the founder of Hakim Optical (and noted cycle path blocker) runs to the north of this intersection, while Lebovic Drive, named for developers Joseph and Wolf Lebovic, runs to the south.
The name “Forest Hill” was questioned by some board members (several live in the vicinity), who pointed out that Bathurst and Eglinton wasn’t in the centre of the former village. But local residents and the local city councillor supported the name, and alternatives, such as “Bathurst Heights” and “Upper Forest Hill” weren’t consistent with the naming policy. “Fairbank” was once again recommended as the station name at Dufferin Street.
Metrolinx imposed a deadline of January 20, 2016 to make final station name decisions, so today’s teleconference should be the last we hear of this debate. Maybe Metrolinx will move on to more substantive matters. We can hope.
This isn’t the only time in recent memory that transit station names generated such controversy. Between 2010 and 2013, the TTC debated the final names for the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension from Downsview to Highway 7 in Vaughan. In the interest of clarity and simplicity, TTC staff preferred [PDF] that the station at Steeles Avenue be called “Steeles West” and that the terminal stop be called “Vaughan Centre.”
But local councillors Anthony Perruzza (Ward 8, York West) and Maria Augimeri (Ward 9, York Centre) successfully got the station at Steeles renamed to “Black Creek Pioneer Village” in 2012, even though the historic attraction is located nearly a kilometre away. Politicians from York Region lobbied for “Vaughan Metropolitan Centre.” TTC Commissioners revisited the debate again in 2013, removing “Black Creek” from the former, but “Vaughan Metropolitan Centre” will stay, delighting suburban egos, but likely frustrating guides, cartographers, and designers for years to come.
Below are the Eglinton Crosstown names, as recommended by Metrolinx. The three names in bold (Fairbank, Forest Hill, and Hakimi) are recent changes.
- Mount Dennis
- Forest Hill
- Mount Pleasant
- Sunnybrook Park
- Science Centre
- Aga Khan Park & Museum
- Golden Mile