Transit TO: Transit Expansion

June 20, 2016 - Highlights Report

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Toronto Transit Consultation Meetings

June 20, 2016

Highlights Report

This concise Highlights Report has been prepared to provide the City of Toronto, TTC, Waterfront Toronto and Metrolinx with a snapshot of the feedback captured at the public meeting held on June 20th 2016. A more detailed report of the feedback captured during this phase of consultations will be prepared in the coming days.

Introduction

On June 20th, the City of Toronto, City Planning Division (Transportation Planning), Waterfront Toronto, the TTC and Metrolinx, hosted a public meeting on a series of key transit projects currently being planned. The meeting was held at Calvary Church, 746 Pape Ave.

While the public meeting focused primarily on the emerging preferred alignment and proposed station locations for the Relief Line, various other transit projects being studied were briefly presented as part of a network approach to transit planning undertaken by the City,  Waterfront Toronto, TTC and Metrolinx, including:

SmartTrack and GO Regional Express Rail (RER): Present the integration of SmartTrack and GO Regional Express Rail to improve rapid transit service on three GO corridors in Toronto.

Eglinton West LRT: Present the evaluation of options extending westward from Mount Dennis along Eglinton Ave to Toronto Pearson International Airport.

Scarborough Transit Planning: Present the evaluation of options for the Scarborough Subway Extension and LRT connecting Kennedy Station and the University of Toronto.

Eglinton East LRT: Present the evaluation of options connecting Kennedy Station and the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus.

Waterfront Transit Reset: Present preliminary transit concepts and their associated evaluation framework.

 

The meeting featured a series of panels and interactive feedback activities on the Relief Line and SmartTrack projects. Participants could freely move between display panels and activities at their own pace, and speak with project staff from the City and TTC.

Councillor Fragedakis, Councillor Fletcher and MPP Peter Tabuns gave words of welcome and thanked those in attendance for their comments and raising their concerns. An introductory presentation on Coordinated Network Transit Planning was given by Stella Gustavson (Program Manager, Transit Implementation Unit, City of Toronto). Participants had the opportunity to ask questions of clarification as well as provide feedback following the presentation.

Approximately 85 individuals attended the public meeting, including: Councillor Mary Fragedakis (Ward 29 Toronto-Danforth), Councillor Paula Fletcher (Ward 30 Toronto-Danforth), and MPP Peter Tabuns (Toronto-Danforth).

Highlights of Participant Feedback

Questions of Clarification

The discussion captured during the question and answer period following the overview presentation is summarized below. Questions are noted with a “Q”, comments with “C” and answers with “A”. Answers were provided by Stella Gustavson (Program Manager, Transit Implementation Unit, City of Toronto) and supported by Paul Millett (TTC), unless noted otherwise.

Q: Metrolinx still shows the Scarborough LRT as a planned project; is there a chance that we can still go back to that plan? It was fully funded by the Province and the Scarborough Subway’s costs continue to balloon out of control. As soon as City Council decides to throw away all of our tax money on the Scarborough Subway, are we going to be left with any more money for the Relief Line or any transit plans for that matter?

A.  Council asked us to look at options for a subway extension with an express subway to Scarborough Centre. We will be presenting a report to Council regarding that extension as well as for the express subway. That was based on an analysis about providing strong rapid transit to Scarborough Centre. In terms of what will Council do with that report and what kind of decision they will make regarding what funding will be invested where, that is a key question for Council. They will take what we are recommending for each of these projects and need to make decisions on how to best allocate funding. 

 

Q. I am interested in the coordination between TTC and other transportation agencies; will the stations on the existing Line 1 and 2 be the same stations as the Relief Line? Will the Relief Line connect to current stations at Queen and Pape or will they require new stations to be built? How much confidence is there that there will be coordination with Metrolinx to connect the Relief Line and SmartTrack, specifically at Gerrard Square?

 A. Concerning the first question, these stations will be designed as interchange stations rather than separate stations. Concerning your second question, planning for SmartTrack stations is being done in full coordination with Metrolinx.  They plan to bring forward a report on stations to their Board on June 28th. Each of the stations will need to be advanced into separate environmental assessments; we will need to look at what infrastructure is needed as well.

 

Q: Making the assumption that the preferred alignment for the Relief Line is the one that is going to be accepted, has any work been done at Pape as of yet to plan the Line 2 station below the Danforth Line? I know there is a station already built under Yonge and Queen as well as at University and Queen. Connecting the Relief Line to Queen and Pape makes perfect sense to me but I am worried that the government will mess it up if it makes too much sense. Also, when will the northern extension (of the Relief Line) be done?

A: Currently, the Relief Line is not a funded project, including the extensions north and west. We only have funding for work up to TPAP approval at this time. We know that the province has announced $150 million dollars towards the Relief Line but at this time we have not been advised as to how that money will be allocated. If you are interested in timelines you can find more information in your handout. We are looking at 2031 for this piece of the Relief Line to be constructed. We will look at the northern extension in the near future together with Metrolinx. There is a lot of interest in studying that project. Concerning the underground station and Queen and Yonge, based on the alignment and depth we would be below the current station. There is an old station box under the Queen and Yonge station and it would be nice if we could tie into that somehow, but unfortunately a good portion of that station was utilized for the underground passage between the southbound tracks and the northbound tracks. There is not a lot of structure there that we could fit the tunnel into, though there may be some opportunities there to help with the interchange. Concerning Pape we are looking at going beneath the current station.

Q: My question is on the ordering of the projects; given the important need for the Relief Line in shaping the city, does the Relief Line need to be open before the Scarborough Subway opens? What is the ordering and who makes those decisions?

A: That is a really good question. The best answer is that we really need it all and as soon as possible. Transit expansion is a priority for the City and of the current projects, the Relief Line has been identified as a needed project for some time. City Council will make a decision as to what the priorities are.

Q: Given the growth of Toronto, what risk mitigation measures will be put in place between now and the opening date to consider the fact that the line might be obsolete by then or might not serve the public well?

A: Part of this involves planning and the City’s planning policy around specific areas and land use. That planning is how we will be making our assumptions and the land use around those areas basically drives transit planning as well. If there is a change in land use then we have no control over that but with respect to capacity, we have taken this into consideration and aim to plan accordingly to maximize capacity. The line should have capacity to move 30,000 – 35,000 people but on opening day we expect 15,000 which gives us room to grow.

Q: You said that public transit should go to places where there is potential development and save established neighbourhoods. Pape is a narrow street with no development; Carlaw has much more development, so why is the station on Pape when you want stations near development areas and not close to a residential area.

A: We have been hearing a lot about this. We have to weight pros and cons against many different objectives and costs. There is no one type of station. Transit stations can occur in residential areas as well as development areas. Yes, mitigation efforts would be needed and more detailed studied is needed to understand what the specific property impacts are. I should be clear that we are not calling for Pape to be redeveloped. We are going to need to address any impacts. This is very much on our radar.

Q: I am looking for reassurances as to the impacts on the bus routes and stations. Am I also being told to move? Infrastructure in this area is difficult and you will experience the same difficulties as other projects have had in the area.

A: The intention is not to touch the existing bus terminal. In the Fall we should have more detailed information about potential property impacts. Concerning being asked to move, our intention is to try and not move anyone. We have not yet looked into the design of the station, or at concerns regarding the second exit for the bus terminal being torn down. We will let you know as soon as possible what the potential impacts would be on property.

Q: It is a little short sighted to only factor in the east for the Relief Line. Why are we not assuming that no one is travelling from the west to go downtown to work?

A: We did look at that as part of the Downtown Rapid Transit Expansion Study and it identified this portion of the Relief Line as the priority. This is the main study area at this time; part of our future work will be to consider expansions to the west and north.

Q: I am interested in the impact of the Relief Line on potential bus routes; have you considered other bus routes and how they will affect the size and orientation of new stations.

A: We have not looked at that yet but as the alignment emerges and the station locations are identified, we will start to have a look at that closer and will better know what the potential may be.

Q: As a resident on Pape I am concerned about expropriation; I assume that the tracks will be under the public right-of-way and the actual station would be at Gerrard Square, is that correct? You are going to continue the bus route?

A: We do not know specifics about the route quite yet but the Relief Line will be 18-20 metres underground (below the public right-of-way) and would we conceive a station at Gerrard Square but that has yet to be determined. At this time we do not know exactly where the station box will be but we do not expect property impacts for that particular area. In the Fall we will have a better idea on the potential impacts.

Q: How can you ask for money for this project ($150 million) if you do not know any details yet or have a proper presentation? It seems your study is only half completed.

A: This stage is only an environmental assessment study; we are just now at the stage were the design can begin. Money has not been identified to construct the project; we only have the funding to do these initial consultation stages but after we report to Council, we hope to move forward with the environmental assessment and once we have more details we will have further consultations in the fall. The design itself will probably take 4-6 years but right now that is unfunded.

Q: At the end of the day, we are all worried about having a subway directly underneath our homes. What does it mean? Has this been done in other jurisdictions, have there been other environmental assessments done and if so can you share that with us? I am concerned about noise, vibration, impact to homes etc.

A: The line will be 18-20 metres below grade in this location, which is about twice the height of this room and twice as deep as the Danforth Line. Technologies have advanced since the construction of the Bloor-Danforth Line and noise mitigation technologies are now a lot more advanced. The tolerated noise levels now are below the human level of perception; those are the standards that we have to meet. We have met these levels in the past, when building the Sheppard Line, and will continue to do this in the future. Noise levels will be far below anything that impacts your home. Also concerning your home there will be pre- and post-construction inspections.

Q: My question is regarding funding; I would like to place on the table for Council to look into how this project is going to be funded and impacts to tax payers. We know the ridership on the Sheppard Line is not high enough to sustain that line, not that this would happen here, but it is something to consider. Could you talk a bit about funding options and private partnerships to fund this project?

A: This is an initiative that our finance department is working on; they are working on a report, looking at different options for funding including looking to the federal government and the province for funding. Right now we are in a unique climate where all three levels of government are looking to invest in transit and so there are opportunities to get some of that funding as well. In certain areas, for example along SmartTrack, there are opportunities to look at a private partnership with Metrolinx to develop some of the stations for example.

[Councillor Fletcher] – This particular line is one that is on the list for Metrolinx. If you recall, the Eglinton Crosstown is being paid for by Metrolinx as that project was on their list; this project being on their list as well should be on their list to fund, which is why we have to coordinate them pretty closely. Another reason why this would benefit them is that they would like the Yonge Line to extend north into Vaughan, however as that line is at capacity you cannot extend north-south without some relief. I would not expect the City to come to Council and say that we should fund the downtown Relief Line; my expectation has always been that this is a Metrolinx paid project.

C: I am concerned about the station at Queen and Pape. It is a small area, it is all very well to assure us now that we will be in on consultations and that our ideas will be incorporated, but I have participated in a long list of consultations in my experience, they never go far enough to incorporate the public’s suggestions. I would like to be proven wrong but I do not believe that I will be. My concern is also that the City tends to push greater development around these areas (where transit infrastructure goes in). I do not want to see suddenly that developers are allowed to build 15-20 story buildings in the area because there is now a subway station here.

C: You should just tell people to look at the FAQ’s if they are asking a question that has been answered in the document. This will save time.

C: I agree that Carlaw would be a much better location as developers could pay for the whole thing. Also concerning funding the Relief Line, we should reduce the police budget by one percent to pay for the whole thing. It makes no sense how much more the police budget is over the transit budget.

C: [Councillor Fragedakis] – A quick point in regards to station locations; we have a process in place that puts local working groups together to help determine station locations. We have done this in other locations around the area and it has worked out really well. For this process I would recommend that local working groups should be struck to determine exact locations and not leave it up to other people to determine the best place as they would not necessarily be the users of it or the ones who have to live by it.

Q: Can you go into detail regarding the underground infrastructure complications that have eliminated Carlaw as a potential alignment option (specifically the sanitary main and storm drainage that run underneath that street)?

A: We have been working with all of the City divisions to collect the most current information regarding underground infrastructure and have learned a lot on what we want to avoid. There are more detailed spreadsheets in the other room with more specific detail that you can refer to for specific infrastructure challenges.

Q: If we are happy with the results of the evaluation, what is the best way for us to show our support?

A: The local Councillors are here today; you can speak to them or contact them. Executive Committee is coming up so voicing your opinion there would also be an option.

Q: Is there a mitigation plan for problems that currently exist with the TTC?

A: The problem is the volume of TTC users going through the Bloor-Yonge and St. George Stations. The Relief Line offers long-term relief. Short-term we looking at resignalling both the Yonge line and the Bloor-Danforth line to increase the service frequency which we hope will reduce some of the crowding levels.

Q: Is this plan coordinated with the City density plan so you can build more population along the subway route?

A: This project is coordinated with the Official Plan and city-building objectives.

Q: What is the Relief Line’s estimated cost?

A: Current cost estimates are in the $4.5 billion dollar range for the first phase of the Relief Line (in 2016 dollars).

Meeting Adjourned at 9:00pm

 

Next Steps

A more detailed report of all consultation activities will be made available after this phase of consultation. Comments must be submitted by June 30, 2016 to ensure inclusion in this report.