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Street closure designed to speed up Eglinton Crosstown construction postponed

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A lengthy closure of a midtown intersection intended to accelerate work on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT has been postponed due to local opposition, a decision that comes on the heels of questions about whether the massive transit project will be done on time.

Earlier this month Metrolinx, the provincial agency that oversees transit planning in the GTHA, announced Bathurst St. between Eglinton Ave. West and Wembley Rd. would be closed between December and June to allow the construction of Forest Hill station, one of 25 planned stops on the 19-kilometre line.

This April 27, 2018 photo shows the underground cavern where Laird station for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT will be built.
This April 27, 2018 photo shows the underground cavern where Laird station for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT will be built.  (Randy Risling / Toronto Star)

According to a notice posted to the project website, the seven-month closure would cut the duration of construction on the street by nearly half, eliminate the need to reconfigure the intersection several times over the course of the work, and improve safety conditions at the site.

Councillor Josh Matlow, whose ward is bordered by Eglinton, said he objected to the plan when he learned about it soon after winning re-election in October.

He said neither Metrolinx nor Crosslinx, the private consortium building the $5.8-billion LRT, had consulted the public about the plan, and announced it despite not yet having a construction permit from the city.

“The overwhelming response is of tremendous concern, principally because of the incursion of traffic that will result from this,” he said.

Timeline of the Eglinton Crosstown construction

Matlow said he and his constituents accept the fact that the construction of a major transit line will cause disruption, but he argued residents deserve to provide input about how to mitigate the impacts and suggest alternatives. He said many feel a partial closure of the street would be preferable, even it means it takes longer to complete the work.

In response to Matlow’s objections, Crosslinx has agreed to postpone the closure and hold a public meeting next month.

Crosslinx spokesperson Kristin Jenkins said while the construction group remains on track to meet the September 2021 deadline, accelerating work at Forest Hill would “(give) us some cushion.” The full closure of Bathurst would allow crews to operate in four work zones simultaneously instead of one at a time.

“It helps manage risk in case something unexpected comes up,” Jenkins said. “Plus it’s good for the community. By getting the work done faster, the road would be restored to normal faster.”

According to a source familiar with the plans who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to talk publicly about the process, prior to the closure being announced city transportation staff told Crosslinx their permit would be approved.

In July Crosslinx, a partnership of Aecon, Dragados Canada, EllisDon, and SNC-Lavalin, cast doubt on whether it would finish the Crosstown on time when it sued Metrolinx for allegedly causing delays and cost overruns.

In a notice of action filed in court, Crosslinx asked for an extension of the 2021 deadline as well as reimbursement from Metrolinx for additional costs the group said it had incurred as a result of the agency’s actions.

The two sides reached a settlement in September under which Metrolinx agreed to pay the consortium $237 million. Both parties agreed to seek ways to speed up construction to ensure the project stayed on schedule, including extending work hours and performing multiple jobs concurrently.

Jamie Robinson, Metrolinx’s chief communications and public affairs officer, said Monday the Crosstown is still on track to be completed by 2021, “and will bring huge benefits to the city.”

“We’re building one of the largest transit projects in North American through highly congested, urbanized neighbourhoods. We know that construction can be disruptive and work very hard with Crosslinx to minimize the impacts on residents,” he said.

Ben Spurr is a Toronto-based reporter covering transportation. Reach him by email at bspurr@thestar.ca or follow him on Twitter: @BenSpurr



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A stunning Water Lantern Festival is coming to Montreal

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What might just be the most magical night ever is coming up for Montreal this year.

The Water Lantern Festival has announced that it will be gracing Mississauga with thousands of floating lanterns later this year, as part of a celebration that spans the entire world.

According to the festival’s official website, the event is a celebration of life with proceeds going towards charities and non-profit organizations within the area.

“Water Lantern Festival brings together individuals from all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life to join in one emotional and memorable night. At the Water Lantern Festival, we cherish these moments and will do our best to help you have a memorable experience that you’ll never forget as you witness the beauty of thousands of lanterns reflecting upon the water,” the website states.

The festival takes place throughout multiple cities around the world, with the Canadian cities of Quebec, Regina, Vancouver, Hamilton, Calgary, Ottawa, Mississauga, and, of course, Montreal taking part.

For the Calgary event, a date has been confirmed and tickets are already rolling out. Montreal shan’t be far behind, and you can click the Notify Me tab on the event’s site to be kept in the loop.

Expect an evening filled with food trucks, music, lantern designing and finally, a magical launch of the lanterns into the water as the sun goes down.

For our pals over in Calgary, their event includes a floating lantern, a commemorative drawstring bag, a marker, and a wristband. Expect something similar, if not the same, when more details float through about Montreal’s event.

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Euthanasia order on hold for Montreal dog that attacked children

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A pit bull dog that attacked four children and two adults in August 2018 in Montreal North will not be euthanized in the immediate future.

The euthanasia order has been temporarily suspended pending the appeal of a Quebec Superior Court decision.

On Tuesday, Judge Lukasz Granosik rejected a request to halt the euthanasia order issued by the Montreal North borough, which declared the animal a “dangerous dog.”

The City of Montreal has not changed its mind. This is only a delay before it proceeds with euthanizing the dog, a source told the Canadian Press.

Shotta, the one-year-old dog, was in the care of its owner’s acquaintance in August 2018. The dog attacked four children and two adults, causing serious injuries in separate incidents on the same day.

After the attacks, the dog was taken from the home and entrusted to the SPCA.

WATCH: Dog found dead in Angrignon Park

The Road to Home Rescue Support, an American shelter, asked the court if it could take in the dog. Christa Frineau, the dog’s owner, had also asked that Shotta not be euthanized.

Granosik refused to grant the request.

—With files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise

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9 Things To Do In Montreal This Friday, Saturday & Sunday

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Today’s sunny skies have me itching to make weekend plans. I absolutely cannot wait to make the most of this warmer weather. This might be the time to inflate my bike tires and dust off my running shoes…

Whether you want to brush up on your cooking skills, let loose, or fill your stomach with amazing food, there’s an event out there for you. Read on for 9 fun things you can do with friends or a fling this weekend.

TL;DR Read on for 9 fun things you can do in Montreal this weekend.

Let Yourself Go At Dress Up

Where: 185 Avenue Van Horne, Montréal.

When: Friday, March 29, 9:00 p.m.

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