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Under Eglinton: Touring Progress at Keelesdale LRT station

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Twenty-five metres (82 feet) below Eglinton Avenue West, I suddenly and absurdly thought, “Wow, this is actually happening!”

“This” is the 19-kilometre (11.8-mile) Crosstown Light Rail Transit line, stretching from Mount Dennis on the west side of Toronto to Kennedy in the east. I was standing at what will eventually be track level in the future Keelesdale station.

View of track level at the future Keelesdale LRT StationUnderground at at track level at Keelesdale LRT Station, looking east. Image, courtesy of Metrolinx

I write a lot about public transit projects and so, of course, am completely aware of the details of this project: the demolished buildings; the blocked roadways and sidewalks; and the seemingly endless traffic jams. Even though construction has been underway for more than three years, all that street-level work seems, psychologically at least, completely separate from the hive of activity taking place under it, because for most people it’s hidden from view. Although I recently visited the mostly outdoor station at Mount Dennis—one stop to the west—the effect of heading underground for the first time was astonishing.

Aerial-view rendering of Keelesdale Station on the future Crosstown LRT lineAerial-view rendering of Keelesdale Station, as it will appear when the LRT is operating, image, Metrolinx

Metrolinx and its contractors, Crosslinx Transit Solutions, invited members of the media to tour the future station to help explain the “cut-and-cover” construction process that Crosslinx is using to build nine of the line’s 15 underground stations.

The future station at the intersection of Eglinton with Keele Street and Trethewey Drive will eventually have three street-level structures to allow passengers to enter and exit the station. We first visited the site of the main entrance on the northwest corner of Eglinton and Trethewey to peer down into the excavation toward the station base, where, shortly, we would be standing. Daniel Sanchez, Crosslinx’ project manager for the station, acted as our tour guide and led us through two major work areas, describing the process of building the station.

View of the main entrance of future Keelesdale LRT Station under constructionLooking southeast toward Eglinton at the site of the future main entrance. Note suspended pipes, image, Robert Mackenzie

In March 2016, crews started installing permanent station head- and side-walls at the site. First, they built shoring walls around the areas that they intended to excavate. Shoring required the contractors to drive large steel beams called soldier piles deep into the ground at regular intervals along the perimeter of the station, and around the station’s entrance buildings. In between each vertical steel beam, lagging—timber slats—was inserted to carry the load. Then, digging commenced, and once they were deep enough to reach the tunnels that had already been constructed, the tunnel liners were removed at each station site.

Premier Wynne at the launch of construction of Keelesdale LRT StationPremier Kathleen Wynne launched construction of Keelesdale Station in March, 2016, image courtesy of Metrolinx

The shoring walls for station’s excavation pit—about 130 metres long by 20 metres wide (426.5 by 65.6 feet)—were supported by both steel braces or tie-backs drilled into the earth as the pit grew deeper. In total, the crews removed about 80,000 cubic metres or 2,825,173 cubic feet of material from the site.

Rendering of the main entrance to Keelesdale LRT StationRendering of the main station entrance on the northeast corner of Trethewey and Eglinton, image, Metrolinx

A problem, Sanchez said, was ensuring traffic could flow along Eglinton and Keele while crews worked under the street. His crews temporarily shifted traffic to the north side of Eglinton and the east side of Keele and Trethewey, while they dug a shallow pit on the other side. They then installed wooden decking above the excavated area so the traffic lanes could then be restored. Next, the process was repeated on the south and west. The decking required 2,300 square metres (24,757 square feet) of wood—enough to cover the floors of five basketball courts.

“This is an interesting project,” Sanchez said. “One of the many challenges that made it interesting was the large number of underground utilities at the site, including water-mains and sanitary and storm sewers. He pointed to a large pipe that was suspended high above the pit, stretching from east to west close to street level. He explained that at this site his team couldn’t relocate these “wet” utilities, so they carefully dug around them then installed hangers to suspend them from the street deck, allowing them to dig deeper below.

Rendering of the secondary entrance to Keelesdale LRT StationRendering of the plaza in front of the secondary entrance at the northwest corner of Trethewey and Eglinton, image, Metrolinx

Sanchez then guided us across the street to the site of the tertiary entrance on the southeast corner of Keele and Eglinton. (A secondary entrance stands on the northwest corner beside York Memorial Collegiate Institute.) There we descended about five stories down to the floor of the site, where workers busily laboured while reporters filmed and interviewed Sanchez and other Crosslinx officials further.

View of track level at the future Keelesdale LRT StationLooking up from track level toward the main entrance, image, Metrolinx

Light streamed from the site of the station entrance structures above, simulating the final effect for passengers awaiting trains when construction ends. (All street-level entrances will be mostly glass.) The high ceilings gave the site a cathedral-like atmosphere, with the twin tunnel portals at the east end demanding our visual attention. Orange tarpaulin covered much of the rough concrete floor, which the team had poured just the day before while a non-stop parade of concrete mixer trucks and a series of pumps delivered liquid concrete to the site continuously over eight hours.

Rendering of the tertiary entrance to Keelesdale LRT StationRendering of the tertiary (third) station entrance on the southeast corner of Keele and Eglinton, image, Metrolinx

Crosslinx expects to substantially finish the station by July 2020, when Metrolinx starts using it as part of a test track for the Bombardier cars. The cars will be prepared for passenger service by first logging 600 hours during short runs between Mount Dennis and Caledonia stations; Caledonia is the next station east of Keelesdale.

Rendering of track level at Keelesdale LRT StationRendering of track level, when LRT trains are in service, image, Metrolinx

When open to passengers, targeted for September 2021, the station will also include a four-bay bus terminal behind the main entrance at Trethewey and Yore Road. (Keelesdale is one of the few Crosstown stations to get such a terminal.) The TTC plans for buses in both directions along the 41 Keele and 941 Keele express routes to stop in the terminal. Local buses along a new route, which the TTC is tentatively designating as 58 Trethewey, will also call there.

Rendering of future TTC bus terminal at Keelesdale LRT StationRendering of the future TTC bus terminal at Keelesdale LRT Station, image, Metrolinx

Crosslinx is using cut-and-cover to build eight more stations along the line: Caledonia, Fairbank, Forest Hill, Chaplin, Mount Pleasant, Leaside, Laird (part), and Science Centre. It’s mining where geology permits—digging out the stations from the shafts at the entrance sites, and working deep beneath the surface with much less impact to the street above—at Oakwood, Avenue Road, and Laird (part). Cedarvale and Eglinton stations require a variety of construction methods because they serve as interchange stations with the TTC’s U-shaped Line 1 Yonge – University subway.

UrbanToronto will continue to update you on the Crosstown LRT project as it progresses. What do you think about this station or the line? You can add your thoughts in the space provided on this page, or join the discussion in our dedicated Forum thread.


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The cost of renovating your bathroom in Toronto in 2021

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Home renovations can be a big task, especially bathroom renovations where you have to work with either an awkwardly shaped space, or one with lots of pipework and very little natural light.

Nonetheless, getting a bathroom renovation by Easy Renovation to change your existing bathroom layout, improve the ambience or add more natural skylights can be worth all the trouble. But determining how much a bathroom renovation would cost is important while setting a budget.

The pandemic has changed a lot of things with social distancing rules, working from home, and for some, being made redundant. Therefore, having a complete grasp of the financial implication of a bathroom innovation is very important.

Owning your dream bathroom can be made a reality and the good thing is, regardless of your financial situation, there are always available options. If you also decide to put up your property for sale in the future, a bathroom upgrade would be a great investment—as it would add significant value to the property. Your bathroom renovation project, like every home renovation, can either be very affordable or extravagant, but one thing is certain, you’re bound to have a more refreshed, stylish and modernistic space.  

Looking through detailed sketches of luxurious and expensive bathrooms can be quite tempting, especially when you’re on a budget. However, your bathroom can be equally transformed into something that looks just as modern, stylish and refreshing but without the heavy price tag.

Conducting a partial bathroom renovation means you only have to change a little part of your existing bathroom rather than tearing it down and starting from scratch. If you intend to carry out this type of bathroom renovation in Toronto, depending on the size of your bathroom, you can spend between $1,000 – $5,000. With a partial bathroom renovation, you can save money by tackling smaller problems that exist in your present bathroom—or you can just upgrade a few of its features.

Partial bathroom renovations are quite affordable and would leave your bathroom feeling new and stylish without being time-consuming or a financial burden—which is important considering the economic impact of the pandemic. Repainting the bathroom walls, replacing the tiles on the floor and in the shower area are examples of partial bathroom renovations which is the cheapest to accomplish.

A more expensive and popular bathroom renovation is the standard 3- or 4-piece renovation. This renovation type involves a lot more services that are not covered by a partial renovation budget. To execute a standard bathroom renovation in Toronto you need a budget of about $10,000 – $15,000.

Unlike with a partial renovation, you would have to make a lot more changes to various elements of your bathroom without the hassle of changing the overall design. You can easily restore your current bathroom into a modernistic and classy space that fits your existing style. Making changes to more aspects of your bathroom is quite easy since there is more room in your budget to accommodate it.

A standard 3- or 4-piece renovation includes everything in a partial renovation plus extras such as revamped baseboards, installing a new bathroom mirror, buying new lights, installing a new vanity, changing the toilet, and buying new shower fixtures.

If you’re one of those looking to make a complete overhaul of your existing bathroom, then the option of a complete bathroom remodel is for you.

Unlike a bathroom renovation, remodelling means a complete change of your current bathroom design and layout for one that is newer and completely unrecognizable. The possibilities when remodelling a bathroom are endless especially when you have a large budget of over $15,000. That way, you can get the opportunity to create the perfect bathroom for yourself.

In addition to all that’s available with a standard bathroom renovation, bathroom remodelling allows you to make bathtub to shower conversion, relocation of plumbing, relocation of the toilet, reframing the bathroom and even relocating the shower.

In conclusion, a bathroom renovation can be a very important upgrade to your home and depending on the features that you decide to include, in addition to the size of your bathroom, this would influence the total cost of the project.

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7 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers In Calgary

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Buying a house for the first time can be overwhelming to say the least. If you’re wondering what neighbourhood to go with, what you can afford, or even how to just get started on the process, let us take some stress off your hands! We’ve teamed up with Hopewell Residential to give you 7 tips to ensure the home you end up with is everything you dreamed of.

Hopewell Residential is a five-time Developer of the Year award winner, so their expertise is second-to-none in Calgary and beyond. Who better to learn home-buying tips from than the homebuilders themselves?

Create a checklist of needs & wants

This is a biggie. When you’re buying your very first home, you’ll want to weigh your needs vs. your wants. Ensuring you have what you love in your first home is a big, big deal.

What should you do? Easy. Set up a list of needs and a list of wants, but be pretty strict with yourself, and make sure you take your lifestyle into consideration. With the increase in remote work over the past year, it’s important to keep in mind that a home office or flex room might just be the key to maximizing at home happiness. Especially if you’re thinking you might be expanding your family later on, spare rooms and extra space is key (but more on that later!).

Or for instance, you might need a home in an area with a high walkability score, but you want to be close to certain amenities. Set yourself up with the right level of compromise and the number of homes that actually fit your ‘perfect’ idea will skyrocket.

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‘Don’t give up’: Ottawa Valley realtors share statistics, tips for homebuyers in ‘extreme’ sellers market

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The real estate market in the Ottawa Valley can be summed up this way: people from far and wide are in a buying frenzy, but there’s hardly anything to buy at the “store,” and the limited inventory is overpriced.

This “stampede” — as one realtor described it — will affect rural towns as residents grapple with finding affordable housing and agonize over their inability to purchase homes in their price range.

“We are seeing a lack of inventory in all price ranges,” said Laura Keller, a real estate agent from Carleton Place.

Helen Vincent, a Renfrew realtor, said she’s never seen a market like this in her 36 years of practice. “We postpone offers for four to five days in order to get all the buyers,” she said.

Multiple offers — between seven and 10 — became the norm, with cash offers and no conditions, as buyers faced bidding wars. “In Ottawa, they have up to 50 (offers),” she added.

“It’s very stressful. You’re going to get nine (people) ticked off, and one happy. So many people are disappointed,” Vincent said.

Terry Stavenow, an Arnprior realtor for 40 years, said that “the pent-up need took over with inventory going low. It made a stampede on everything that was available.“

“Brand new housing — it’s very much gone. Several building developers are rushing to get inventory. They usually don’t do construction in the winter months,” said Stavenow.

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