Corp Comm Connects


Catching up with TTC’s upcoming Vaughan Centre Station
Dec. 5, 2014
By Nathan Christie

For the past five weeks, UrbanToronto has been updating you on the largest construction project currently ongoing by the Toronto Transit Commission, the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension. Our series to now has looked at five of the six prospective subway stations on the extension: Downsview Park Station, Finch West Station, York University Station, Pioneer Village Station, and Highway 407 Station. Today brings us to the sixth station and the end of the line (Line 1, that is)-Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Station.

Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC) station will serve as a direct connection to and from Downtown Toronto for the commuters of York Region. Along with Highway 407 Station, these will be the first two subway stations operated by the TTC to exist entirely outside of the City of Toronto, in the City of Vaughan, and the two northernmost subway stations in the TTC network. VMC station is considered the centrepiece of Vaughan’s redevelopment of the industrial and big box commercial area at Highway 7 and Jane Street into its new Downtown. Vaughan City Council chose the moniker “Vaughan Metropolitan Centre” for the area in 2009.

Originally, the station was known by the name of “Vaughan Corporate Centre”; the TTC recommended the simpler, easier-to-remember “Vaughan Centre” which aligned with its naming conventions, like the North York Centre and Scarborough Centre stations. In the end, Vaughan got the name it wanted.

The layout of the station will have the main entrance building located just north of Highway 7, with the future Vaughan Street on its north side, a relocated Millway Avenue on its east, and the present Future Shop on its west. The station box will run north-south underneath the main entrance, crossing under Highway 7.

There will be two emergency exit buildings: one just south of Highway 7, and the other situated along Millway Avenue between Vaughan Street and Apple Mill Road. A power substation will be located on the south side of Highway 7, in an area currently being used as a Toromont CAT parking lot. Finally, because Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Station will be a terminal stop, a tail track is also being constructed underground that will extend past Apple Mill Road, along with a crossover box south of Highway 7.

An important part of public transit’s future in York Region, VMC Station will integrate with YRT and VIVA bus services. A dedicated platform for VIVA buses will be constructed in the middle of Highway 7, similar to the BRT stations already built in Markham. From the VIVA platform commuters can access the subway via an underground passageway without having to cross Highway 7 on foot.

A YRT bus terminal, rather unwieldily dubbed as “SmartCentres Terminal - Vaughan Metropolitan Centre”, is also planned at the north end of the station, with a direct, underground pedestrian tunnel to the subway station.

However, the construction of the bus terminal will not start until VMC Station is nearly completed; in a 2012 report YRT estimated that there would be a one-year interval between the opening of the subway station and the opening of the bus terminal, though this was based on the original 2015 completion date of the extension. Whatever the case may be, if the terminal is not ready by the extension’s opening, then YRT buses will be expected to use on-street bus stops on Millway Avenue.

While there are big plans for the area surrounding Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Station, at the moment the only other adjacent construction is for the new KPMG Vaughan offices.

At first glance, even the construction site for the station itself seems subdued compared to the others on the extension, with TTC-emblazoned signage the only immediate indication that what’s being built is something subway-related. Even an employee of the adjacent Future Shop was not aware that all the construction surrounding him was for a subway station.

The main entrance building has yet to take shape above ground, while a temporary roof spans the work site.

The north emergency exit building can be seen taking shape.

Indeed, the majority of the work has so far been done underground and out of sight.

Tunnelling for the line was completed November 2013 when the tunnel boring machine “Torkie” broke through the headwall at the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre site, finishing the final segment of the entire extension. Track work in the tunnels still needs to be completed, however. Work is also progressing on the concourse and platform levels.

One part of the station does look substantially percent finished, though: the power substation on the south side of Highway 7.

The station’s engineering is provided by Arup Canada, with the design by London UK-based Grimshaw Architects. Relations between the TTC and Arup recently turned sour; in August the TTC filed a $10-million lawsuit against the firm, alleging a breach of contract over work done on the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Station site. Arup, which is also working on York University Station, has been accused of not observing building and electrical codes, not hiring competent workers, and not meeting the contract’s schedule. As of yet there has been no resolution to the lawsuit.

Station artwork is by Paul Raff Studio. Raff, who is based in Toronto, is creating a piece called “Atmospheric Lens”.

The domed ceiling of the main entrance building will be panelled with mirrors, with apertures strategically interspersed to create multiple skylights. Specific apertures will be arranged in a way to emphasize the angle of sunlight as it is during certain days of the year, such as the summer and winter solstices and spring and fall equinoxes.

While an extension of the TTC into York Region may seem unnecessary to some, especially in the face of other pressing needs like the Downtown Relief Line, the entire Spadina extension may not have even happened if it weren’t for the involvement of the City of Vaughan. In 1993, when Bob Rae’s provincial government presented their “Let’s Move” Rapid Transit Program, a subway extension was planned to York University, but not beyond. Rae’s defeat in the 1995 Ontario provincial election resulted in the shelving of the York University extension. In 2000, Vaughan brought the project back to attention, proposing two new stations and the funding of all costs associated with construction north of Steeles Avenue. This was the first step to the extension finally being announced by the Government of Ontario in 2006.

Ten years later in Fall 2016, Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Station is expected to open with the rest of the extension. However, recent comments by TTC CEO Andy Byford suggest that this date may be further delayed to 2017.