To find out how good the Valley Line is, or isn’t, at what we actually spent billions for it to do, I met up with Stephen Raitz, the chair of Paths for People. We biked to four of the line’s 12 stations and walked around. Here’s what we saw and what Raitz had to say.
“Visually, the sightlines are pretty clear, which is good,” Raitz says, as we stand at Churchill Square and peer south, into the new, open-air Churchill LRT station. Across the track is the Stanley A. Milner Library, a bike lane, and a lane that originally was designed to be a one-way car lane but saw enough demand from people that city council caved and allowed it to be trialled for pedestrians only.
Raitz says there’s infrastructure within the station, like benches, garbage cans and ticket machines, but you can see across most of it. “Sightlines are really important because if I get out of City Hall it’s like, ‘Oh, this is where the LRT is.’ Or for people engaging with it for the first time, it’s less stressful. From inside the station it’s important, too, because it broadens the passive surveillance. You’re not feeling like you’re all alone. It’s not like being in the LRT stations that are underground downtown, where if you’re down there by yourself, nobody can see you.”
Most of the station scores well on sightlines for Raitz, but there are a few issues. “Right here, there’s no permeability,” he says, pointing at garbage cans and benches arranged to essentially make a wall roughly five metres wide. “That lessens the access people have in and out. I also think from a walking and especially rolling perspective that some of the built bits narrow the passageways, so that’s a count against.”