Union Station Revitalization

2009-2020

Union Station sign along York street

People walking past the Union Station sign on the northwest corner of the station along York Street.
Courtesy of Elizabeth Cytko. November, 2018.

After 9 years of false starts, the City of Toronto announced the renovation of Union Station would finally begin in 2009. Their goal was to complete the renovations by 2015, when the city would host the Pan American games. Unfortunately, as time progressed the deadline of completion was delayed from 2015 to 2018, and again to September of 2020. With the delays, the original cost of the $640 million-dollar plan ballooned to over $824 million dollars. 

The renovation delays were caused by multiple factors. First, to create a new retail and platform space, the project included an extensive dig underneath the station. Digging a space below a pre-existing historic building takes expertise, skill, and time.

People waiting in the great hall of Union Station

People waiting in the Great Hall. The old ticket booths are hidden behind a wall wrap promoting Union Station.
Courtesy of Elizabeth Cytko. November 2019.

However, there used to be a “wrong side of the tracks” south of Union Station. Land reclaimed from the waterfront is now bustling with condos and office buildings. As Toronto transformed, Union Station changed with the city, becoming a place of commerce and community. Where once the smell of hot dogs greeted you as you stepped out onto Front Street, you are now greeted by a European-inspired pedestrian-friendly boulevard. 

TD Union Holiday display outside the columns of Union Station
Union Station cafeteria. Shows the custom designed lights.

One of the exciting new features of Union Station is the food court. This is part of the newly dug-out section of the station, and includes custom designed lights, a DJ booth, and places to eat while waiting for your train.
Courtesy of Erika Ilse. March 2020.

Second, while the sewer system was being upgraded in 2012, there was an intense rainstorm that flooded the tracks with raw sewage. Cleanup set back the timeline for the project even further.

 

Finally, the project was originally won by a company named Carillion. However, in 2015, Osmington—the city lead contractor—dropped Carillion and replaced them with Bondfield Construction Inc., causing a major delay in the project’s completion.

Commuters passing though the great hall of Union Sation

People passing through the Great Hall.
Courtesy of Erika Ilse. March 2020.

In 2015, Union Station teamed up with TD Bank to promote various community-focused events. These events include concerts, skating rinks, food festivals, talks, and providing free wifi. Once the project is completed, Union Station will house a grocery store, local food vendors, shopping, event spaces, and a place to meet friends. Union Station will be more than a transportation hub, but a destination, clearly inspired by the U.S. redevelopments of Grand Central Terminal in New York and Washington Union Station and involving some of the same personnel.  

An outside display promoting the #TDUnionHoliday event. Courtesy of Elizabeth Cytko. December 2019.

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UNCOVERING UNION

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