Toronto’s Liberty Village is the city’s quintessential example of poor planning. The neighbourhood’s transit infrastructure is overburdened by an overabundance of residents, and the predictable result is acrimonious morning commutes.
Bosley Real Estate sales agent Davelle Morrison says she dissuades clients from moving to Liberty Village for the very reason that the King streetcar is overcapacity and they’ll have a helluva time getting to and from work every day.
“From a transit perspective, the King streetcar is so full that most people living in Liberty Village end up having to walk home from the Financial District from work, which isn’t ideal,” she said.
The City of Toronto has tried to remedy the problem by closing King St. to cars between Bathurst and Jarvis Sts., and while more frequent trams are deployed with increased ridership, one wonders why it’s taken drastic intervention—and it should be noted, King St. merchants aren’t happy about reduced car traffic—to shuttle people from the West End to the Financial District and beyond.
In 2014, Liberty Village residents were so frustrated by public transit that they crowdfunded a private bus service and called it the Liberty Village Express.
“It was a great idea,” said Morrison. “Liberty Village is certainly more built up now with more restaurants, bars, gyms, stores, etc., so the people living there don’t need to leave once they’re home.”
While amenity build-up is good for Liberty Village, the neighbourhood is still missing the one that would inarguably benefit it the most: a subway line—like the one being built to service Scarborough residents.
“What I don’t like about Liberty Village is that there aren’t enough streets to get in and out of there, so Liberty St. ends up crowded with a long lineup of cars during rush hour,” said Morrison.
Geoff Malisa, a Zolo Realty sales agent, is grateful the city became proactive with the King streetcar pilot project, but says Toronto’s below-grade infrastructure is already insufficient for the city’s demands and it’s only going to get worse. He also called the streetcar pilot too little too late.
“I don’t think anything is ever too late, but I personally think it’s too late to implement the King St. pilot project,” he said. “I think the only solution is to build underground relief. Funding is always the number one issue, but there are creative ways to fund that project. If it can’t be done, then somebody has to come out and say so, but it hasn’t even been a topic of conversation.”