Four pillars of community benefits and support
By Al Ruggero
Recently, I had an opportunity to tour and visit with Metrolinx staff at their downtown Union Station facility at their LRT project here at the Finch West Maintenance and Storage Facility and at the Hazel McCallion Line at the heart of Mississauga. The purpose of the invite and tour was to highlight the investments made Metrolinx that extend beyond the needed transportation infrastructure to include the community, employment, and business supports that can often get overlooked as we daily focus on the construction disruption to our streets and businesses.
Pillar One promotes opportunities for apprenticeship training and workforce development, including equity-seeking groups, women, and apprentices. Since construction began, the project has acquired 588 hires through the Community and Supports program.
Pillar Two is to bolster and support Local Businesses to “minimize and alleviate business disruptions and reduce the economic impacts of construction”. This includes signage, the promotion of Shop Local, and, importantly, the procurement of goods and services from local businesses.
Pillar Three- Public Realm improvements: involves the design and development of the project to include the improvements to the local spaces in the public realm.
From our perspective at Emery Village BIA, we’ve been involved from the onset to participate in the design and development of the project to include improvements in stretches along Finch West that pertain to our BIA district. Given the restraints along Finch (including road widening), the goal is to incorporate as many signature BIA fixtures as possible, including additional Pedestrian lighting, signage, seating and decorative paving to elevate the pedestrian experience and help drive business and transit usage.
Pillar Four incorporates Metrolinx’s work with local communities to connect with decision-makers to adjust and improve spaces surrounding transit construction where direct funding is unavailable.
Metrolinx’s Finch West LRT project has added $22.8M in local business and social enterprise spending.
Finally, the tour allowed me to see the Light Rail Vehicle fleet up close, mainly housed at the MSF facility at York Gate Boulevard and Finch (just west of Jane Street). One thing that stood out was the tall height of the vehicle, which is likely necessary to accommodate the raised entry doors to match the height of the stations.
Like newer subway cars, riders will have access to the linked vehicles, making finding seats much easier.
Ultimately, the introduction of the LRT along Finch is a game-changer not just to the appearance of the street but to the ways that we move and interact with other elements in our shared spaces. Unlike subways, the LRT will allow riders to view street level activity, enterprise, and the up-and-coming revitalization of the Finch corridor.
Al Ruggero is the project manager for the Emery Village BIA and can be reached via email at: