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St. Clair Streetcar ROW – City Wins in Court

Biking Note: I hold the belief that anything good for public transit is good for cyclists too. Although there is controversy that the St. Clair Right-Of-Way (ROW) plans do not address cycling well, it is a plan that takes the emphasis from private automobile travel and puts it on public transit. This is fine with me for the tougher it is for cars out there on our streets, the safer (for us and our lungs) it will be for bikes. Not enough room for a bike lane? Make drivers wait while you take the lane.

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I’ve received word from a well-connected friend on the Toronto Cycling Committee that the Divisional Court has ruled on the matter of the St. Clair Streetcar ROW brought against the city by SOS (Save Our St. Clair – a misnomer if I ever heard one). I’ll try to summarize it for you:

Basically, the Ministry of the Environment ruled that a certain kind of environmental assessment wasn’t needed for ROW construction, and SOS thinks this is illegal. As well, SOS was saying that because St. Clair ROW preliminary work (ie. environmental assessments, public consultations, etc.) was done in the time period between the amalgamation of Metropolitan Toronto (which had an old Official Plan which didn’t identify St. Clair as a “Rapid Transit” route…) and the adoption of a new Official Plan (which did identify St. Clair as one of many avenues where public transit should have a priority), it was illegal.

The Divisional Court’s decision first mentions that the Ontario Municipal Board ruled on Jan 26th of this year that while the new Official Plan wasn’t “official” in the formal sense, it was still valid in terms of urban planning theory (I’m heavily paraphrasing here). The court then goes on to politely, um, “dis” the SOS group, saying that they have no leg to stand on regarding challenging the Ministry of the Environment’s decision about the environmental assessment:

SOS in this application is now inviting the Court to indirectly call into question the expertise and experience of the Minister . The Minister’s order of June 3, 2005 approving the Project is not the subject of this application . We decline the invitation to review the issues raised by SOS in respect of the Class EA process and in respect to the environmental issues, as they are a collateral attack on the Minister’s decision .


The Courts will not review decisions of Ministers of the Crown unless it were demonstrated that they were made in bad faith or that the Minister clearly failed to comply with the statutory conditions .

I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun reading a legal document before.

Hopefully this is the end of all this SOS nonsense. As of the end of November, they had cost the city $2.7 million in legal costs. I’m sure that number is far higher now. TTC fare hike? Blame the car drivers of Save Our St. Clair (many of whom reportedly live in Woodbridge).

I’ll post a link to the decision when I find it online (I got it in an email). In the meantime, I’ve hosted a copy of the PDF if you want to read it.

  • Anonymous

    Good riddance!
    Now if the Island Airport just gets shut down we’ll be in business

  • Mark Dowling


    The St Clair ROW preserves and improves infrastructure in the city despite the efforts of NIMBY vested interests. The island airport is also a valuable piece of infrastructure opposed by NIMBY vested interests. If it didn’t exist, we probably wouldn’t build it – but it does exist so tearing it out is a different proposition.

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