Commuters who park their vehicles at one of four Wilson Station lots will need to seek out new spots come December 1st.
As of that day 610 parking spaces at the Wilson West Commuter lot will permanently close and construction will begin for a 50,000 square foot retail space. The station’s three other lots, with a combined total of 1,498 parking spaces, will remain open.
“We know there is going to be some inconvenience for [commuters],” says TTC spokesperson Stuart Green, but he adds, “The good news is that in February, Yorkdale will be reopening its parking lots and that’s about 1,100 spaces. So we are talking about almost double the spaces closing at Wilson.”
In 2009, the Wilson West lot was deemed surplus property by the City of Toronto and the TTC. It is now under the jurisdiction of Build Toronto, which has listed the address at 75 Billy Bishop Way under its portfolio as an “underutilized site.” The new plan is to repurpose this land for retail purposes.
“There will be a very modest 50,000 square foot shopping centre, strip mall if you like, built there,” says William Bryck, Build Toronto’s President and CEO. “Whether we own it for the long term or sell it I don’t know.”
The timing of this closure may seem peculiar for commuters considering recent announcements declaring investments into transit funding and development across the GTA. On Thursday, Mayor John Tory endorsed the enforcement of tolls on the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway, leaving some experts to suggest even more would be leaning toward transit as their option of choice.
Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmat confirms it.
“The overall objective in our planning is to create mixed-use communities where people actually have the choice to use transit first. So the more housing you put where there’s currently a parking lot, the less people need to drive to work,” she says. “So that’s the planning objective. In the short term will more people or some people be driving to transit? That’s entirely possible.”
Bryck says considerations were put in place for commuters since the decision for this land was made seven years ago.
“We had to work with the TTC for a while. We committed to keep it open for a while for them and it’s time to move on. We have contractual commitments and we have to start construction,” he says.
As for where this influx of commuters can park now, Green has offered up some options.
“The timing is a bit tricky,” he admits. “[But] spaces are coming back. In fact, at the end of 2017 when the Toronto York Spadina Subway extension opens there will be another 2,800 spaces at three of the new stops.”
“There are other choices. They can carpool, they can take transit to Wilson station or use another lot if possible.”
Green notes that two-thirds of the commuters to Wilson Station are not from Toronto and the newer, upcoming lots may better serve them in the long run considering their proximity to the 905.
Bryck of Build Toronto agrees.
“It’s more convenient for them to use the new lots and get on the new extension north of there. [It] will actually relieve city congestion.”
NEW PARKING SPACES COMING TO TTC LOTS
FEBRUARY 2017: 1,100 new spots at Yorkdale
END OF 2017: York Spadina Subway Extension
Finch West: 400 new spots
Pioneer Village (Jane and Steeles): 1,850 new spots
Future 407 Station: 563 spots