Deadline to enter teams for Ontario Line Joint Corridor extended

July 14 is the new deadline to enter Stage 1 of Metrolinx's design competition for the urban design and landscape architecture components of the transit corridor from Eastern Avenue to Gerrard Street in Toronto.

Renderings of future components of the Ontario Line’s eastern portion

Metrolinx has launched a design competition to encourage teams to submit innovative urban design and landscape architecture solutions for the Ontario Line infrastructure that will be built around the existing rail corridor extending from Eastern Avenue to Gerrard Street in Toronto. Submissions to the first stage of the two-stage process, including team compositions and a sample of past projects, are now due July 14 at 3 pm. From the responses that are received, up to four teams will be selected to participate in the design competition.

The competition is a unique, first-of-its-kind collaboration between the communities surrounding the corridor and Metrolinx, combining the vision and goals from community groups and local BIAs with Metrolinx’s objectives for the rail expansion.

The objective of the competition is to solicit creative design solutions, responding to the challenge of integrating new transit infrastructure into established neighbourhoods. The site of the competition runs along both sides of a two-kilometer stretch of rail corridor which will accommodate both the new Ontario Line and the expansion of GO Transit (a regional express rail system). These boundary conditions could be a point of friction between the transit infrastructure and the adjacent urban context. Metrolinx is soliciting proposals that use design excellence principles to transform these interfaces into a unique urban environment that enhances the adjacent neighbourhoods, commercial streets, and parklands.

The scope of the design competition includes the rail corridor to retaining walls, abutments, bridge underpasses, station plazas, aesthetic lighting, murals and other landscape items within four Community Zones identified along the Joint Corridor. The goal for the competition is to achieve an innovative, integrated, context-sensitive design solution that is implementable. Embedded within the proposals there should be a focus on ecological performance and biodiversity.

The Ontario Line and Competition Site

The Ontario Line is a planned 15.6 km, 15-stop rapid transit line in Toronto connecting Exhibition Place, through downtown, to the Ontario Science Centre. While fostering community growth and development, the delivery of the Ontario Line requires a unified integration of new architectural, civic and landscape components into the existing urban form. The design and construction of this alliances will establish an enhanced user experience within the existing public realm.

Ontario Line’s proposed Joint Corridor is the area of this design competition. The “Joint Corridor” title denotes the 2 km stretch where two rail expansion projects overlap – Ontario Line two tracks on the west side and an additional new GO rail track on the east side of the rail corridor. The Joint Corridor area for this competition will run above ground from north of Eastern Avenue to south of Pape Avenue.

The Riverside and Leslieville neighbourhoods have developed in close proximity to the historic GO Transit rail corridor. To accommodate the additional volume of the Ontario Line plus the GO Transit electrification expansion, the rail corridor will be raised, widened, and bridges will be replaced. It is these infrastructural changes that have opened up the opportunity for Metrolinx to run a design competition for the Joint Corridor.

The winning team from the competition will receive a $100,000 honorarium for their design concept, and the three shortlisted design teams will receive honorariums of $25,000. The winning design concepts will be translated into tender documents by the Ontario Line Technical Advisor, contracted to Metrolinx.

The nine-person jury includes two community members from the Lakeshore East Community Advisory Committee, a representative for the Riverside and Leslieville BIAs, four architecture, urban, and landscape design professionals, a City of Toronto representative, and a Metrolinx representative.

In response to questions that have come up about the competition format and procedures, Metrolinx has offered the following:

Will Metrolinx retain the copyright as part of the transfer of sole ownership of design concepts? What impact could this have with respect to professional liability insurance?

Upon the selection of the winning Design Proposal, only the winning Design Team is expected to irrevocably assign and transfer to Metrolinx all of the rights, titles and interests (including Intellectual Property rights) of the winning Design Proposal free and clear of any interest of any kind that would interfere with such assignment and transfer in consideration of the fee described in Article 4.0.

The other shortlisted Design Teams are only expected to sign a release and they will not be asked to assign and transfer any rights of their Design Proposals.

This decision was made to protect Metrolinx’s interests, as the winning Design Proposal will be translated into tender documents and Metrolinx may need to modify it to meet the project’s needs. Every effort will be made to maintain the intent of the winning design proposal through the construction documentation and construction processes. Metrolinx has a strong interest in this competition being successful and we will be monitoring the post-competition efforts to deliver the winning design concepts.

The winning Design Team can use the winning Design Proposal in promotion and marketing materials or for its business development. Also, Metrolinx wants to clarify that any Respondent to this competition is not required to be a licensed architect or landscape architect and will not be required to hold professional liability insurance for this purpose.

With respect to the transcription of the design proposal into construction documents, we have found that it requires ongoing effort and oversight to ensure that innovative concepts get built. If the Design Team is not involved after the competition, what assurances are there that the design intent will make it all the way through to the completion of the project?

We understand the challenges in getting innovative ideas built. The seven-year effort on the Davenport Diamond elevated guideway and public realm projects is both a testament to those challenges and a demonstration of our commitment to achieving the design excellence objectives of that project.

A key issue we face with the Joint Corridor Design Competition is schedule pressure. Once a winning scheme is selected there will be limited time available to translate and incorporate those concepts into the tender documents. The tender release dates are fixed, and we want to make sure these design concepts are captured in the bid package we put out to the market so that they get priced and built. We have confidence in the ability of the design leads on the OLTA team to successfully translate these concepts into tender documents. Metrolinx has a strong interest in this competition being successful and we will be monitoring the post-competition efforts of the OLTA teams.

The delivery of this work is linked to the schedules of other projects that have been carefully mapped out for the next eight to ten years. Delays in these critical enabling works in the Joint corridor could hold up both the Ontario Line and GO Expansion programs. We already have contracts in place for the GO Expansion program and impacts to their schedule could carry very significant risks and penalties for Metrolinx.

Why was the decision taken not to seek the provision of further work or services from the winning Design Team after the winning scheme is selected?

Metrolinx recognized that this situation could be a disincentive for some teams. This decision was not taken lightly. The Joint Corridor Early Works package is large and very complex, and we have already pushed the tender deadlines to accommodate the design competition. Given the time pressure this process was determined to be the most feasible way to meet our deadlines and achieve the objectives of all the project stakeholders (including the local community and BIA).

In reviewing the schedule and deliverables for the Early Works tender package it was determined that the best way to deliver the winning scheme was integrate it into the workflow of the OLTA team. We recognize this situation may not be viewed as ideal; however, our objective is to make sure that the design concepts are realized in the built project.

These documents have been carefully drafted and extensively reviewed by our Procurement and Legal teams, the Ontario Line Technical Advisors, the Project Delivery Team, and the Fairness Advisor. The text in those documents was carefully considered with respect to the needs and objectives of all the stakeholders.

For more information about the competition, visit:

The formal Request Document and Design Brief are available at: