Roads and Trails
An environmental assessment (commonly known as an EA) is a study required by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment to assess the potential positive or negative effects of an individual project on the environment. Social, cultural and economic aspects are also considered. Key components of an environmental assessment include:
- consultation with government agencies and the public
- consideration and evaluation of alternatives
- management of potential environmental effects
For more information on Government of Ontario Environmental Assessments visit: www.ene.gov.on.ca/environment/en/industry/assessment_and_approvals/environmental_assessments/index.htm
The study is being planned in accordance with the guidelines set out in the provincially approved document titled “Municipal Class Environmental Assessment” (Municipal Engineers’ Association, October 2000 as amended in 2007 and 2011) and falls within the category of a Schedule ‘C’ Class Environmental Assessment. For more information on the Municipal Class EA process please visit: www.municipalclassea.ca
The study will determine a preferred alignment for the Railpath extension from Dundas Street West to the planned Fort York pedestrian and cycle bridge. Access points connecting the local community to the Railpath will be identified. Urban features including landscaping, public art, bicycle parking, wayfinding signage and lighting will form part of the study.
In December 1998, the West Toronto Rail Corridor was first identified as a candidate for a multi-use trail in the Inventory of Cycling Trail Opportunities in Rail and Hydro Corridors report.
The Railpath idea had also been discussed at resident’s association meetings in Toronto’s west end for years. In 2001, a group of members of the Roncesvalles Macdonell Residents’ Association formed a partnership with the Community Bicycle Network and Evergreen, and began working actively towards making the project a reality with the goal of assisting the City in the creation and stewardship of this multipurpose linear park.
With the first phase completed between Cariboo Avenue and Dundas Street West overpass, the purpose of this study is to identify, examine, and document the issues – including preparation of the preliminary design for the implementation of the second phase from Dundas Street to Strachan Avenue.
The Study Area commences at the southern terminus of the existing West Toronto Railpath at Dundas Street West/Sterling Road and continues south-easterly along the Georgetown GO Transit corridor to Strachan Avenue. A map of the study area can be found on www.toronto.ca/westrailpath. The Railpath is intended to connect with the planned Fort York Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge. Further information relating to this study can be found on www.toronto.ca/fortyorkbridge
It is anticipated that the West Toronto Railpath Extension will be accommodated in or adjacent to the rail corridor from Dundas Street West to approximately Queen Street West. South of Queen Street West, the lands in and adjacent to the rail corridor are more constrained due to Metrolinx's railway track expansion plans, as a result a range of route opportunities must be considered and evaluated.
· Phases 1 to 3 of the Environmental Assessment process have been completed for this study:
- · Phase 1 identified the study purpose (problem & opportunity within the study area) and set project objectives
- · Phase 2 identified and evaluated alternative trail alignment options including community access points
- · Phase 3 identified and evaluated alternative design concepts for the preliminary preferred route (solution)
To view the preliminary preferred route, see the presentation from public event #2 and take note that the route between Abell Street and King Street West will not be carried forward as part of this study.
An Environmental Study Report (ESR) is prepared to document the West Toronto Railpath Extension Schedule C Municipal Class EA project activities, correspondence and decision-making process up to and including Phase 4 of the EA process. The ESR is prepared for public record and provides an opportunity for the public, review agencies, MOECC and other project stakeholders to review the process.
Yes. The public and review agencies will be able to review the report which will be available on the project website and local libraries for a 30 calendar days review period.
10. Who do I contact if I have comments or concerns regarding the EA during the public review process?
All comments or concerns about the project should be addressed to the following City staff:
Public Consultation Unit, City of Toronto
Metro Hall, 19th Fl., 55 John St.
Toronto, ON M5V 3C6
If concerns regarding this project cannot be resolved in discussion with the City of Toronto, a person or party may request that the MOECC make an order for the project to comply with Part II of the EA Act (referred to as a Part II Order). A Part II Order is an appeal provision for elevating the status of the project to an Individual EA process. The City of Toronto will remain available to meet with interested parties and agencies to review the details of the proposed project. Any party wishing to provide additional comments on or requiring additional information regarding the project is encouraged to contact the City of Toronto at the address above.
Once the approval is granted, the project will move into the implementation phase. The implementation phase, or Phase 5, includes completion of trail detailed design, contract drawings and documents, followed by trail construction and operation with appropriate monitoring, as detailed in the Environmental Study Report.
The upcoming timeline includes:
- EA Study is expected to be completed in Spring 2015
- Approval for the EA Study is anticipated from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) in the fall 2015
- City will commission the detail design to commence later in 2015
- Implementation expected for 2016-2018 and subject to funding
The trail detailed design will include refinement and finalization of the preferred trail design concept selected at the end of the EA Phase 3 and described in the study ESR. This phase will produce detailed design drawings including construction standards and specifications, Construction Management Plan, Environmental Monitoring Plan and trail Operations and Maintenance Plan.
Construction is expected to start in 2016 and be completed in 2018, subject to available funding.
The Railpath will be designed as a multi-use facility and will function as a shared space between a variety of different users including cyclists, pedestrians, rollerbladers e.t.c. The exact width of the trail needs to be determined and will be somewhat dictated by the space available within the rail corridor. The surface of the Railpath will be paved while bridges and other specialty structures will have a concrete or other durable hard surface that conforms to accessibility requirements. Street lighting and fencing will be installed similar to the earlier phase of the Railpath.
Identification of access points is part of the scope of this study and has been identified during the course of the study.
Crossing Dundas Street West from the north to the south (e.g. space below Dundas overpass, then bridge design on south side of bridge to cross tracks, bridge landing points, private property impacts)
Addressing the limited space available within rail corridor between Dundas Street West and Queen Street West
Proceeding south of Queen Street West where there is no space within the rail corridor to align the trail
Multi-use trails are actively enjoyed by a wide range of users and are generally considered an attractive neighbourhood amenity. Trails provide a space for interaction with neighbours and increase access for people to discover natural, cultural and heritage places in the City.
Public places that are actively used by residents are generally regarded as safer and more comfortable for all ages – the most effective crime prevention approach is to encourage a high level of activity along the trail system. Trails support the opportunity for physical activity through hiking, walking, running, rollerblading and cycling which is in tune with the City's public health objective to encourage physical activity to improve the health of Torontonians. Building trails that are high-quality and accessible infrastructure also promotes social equality.
18. Will the plan include additional by-law enforcement, e.g. to reduce off-leash dogs and cyclists riding too fast?
The City will continue to encourage safe and appropriate use of the Railpath through signs. Further efforts, such as public education campaigns and increased by-law enforcement, are beyond the scope of this conceptual design project, but recommendations for such efforts will be shared with appropriate City divisions.
The Railpath is maintained by Parks Forestry and Recreation in the winter, including plowing, salting, and litter picking. (Note: Transportation Services maintains the bridges and Solid Waste Management empties the receptacles year round).
Please refer to the study website www.toronto.ca/westrailpath. Also an email distribution list has been set up to send out communications regarding future events and project updates. Members of the public who wish to receive updates by mail can contact Maogosha Pyjor, Senior Public Consultation Coordinator, by phone: 416-338-2850 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Not yet. Funding for implementation of this Railpath extension is proposed to be included in the Transportation Services 10-Year Capital Plan 2016-2025. Capital budgets are part of a multi-year funding program which is adopted by City Council. The multi-year plan covers longer term and one-time expenditures for fixed assets.
Not yet. This study will include cost estimates for the proposed Railpath Extension.
Wherever possible, the trail will be designed and built to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) was enacted by the provincial government in 2005 to help make Ontario accessible to people with disabilities. This act lays the framework for the development of province-wide mandatory standards on accessibility in all areas of daily life. For more information on the AODA visit: www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/accessibility/understanding_accessibility/aoda.aspx
25. Why don't you just stick with the original proposal to route the Railpath (while not within the corridor) adjacent to the rail corridor in order to provide a continuous and seamless multi-use trail?
Given the lack of space within the rail corridor, technical issues and impacts to neighbouring properties, more consultation and study is needed to find a solution which lessens impacts and balances different interests.
While options for the segment between Abell Street to King Street West were presented at a public meeting on December 1, 2014, the project team is not recommending an alignment for this section and acknowledges that further study and consultation is needed. The Environmental Assessment (EA) Study will be completed this Spring 2015 so that we can proceed with implementation of the preferred alignment for the northern section between Dundas Street West to Abell Street.
26. Is the Study Team examining options on the southern side of the rail corridor, along Joe Shuster Way?
Yes. Opportunities on both sides of the rail corridor have been explored.
CAMH provides a very exciting opportunity to formalize pedestrian and cycling access which currently functions informally as a connection from Sudbury to Shaw Street. City staff are working with Cycle Toronto and CAMH to provide both a temporary and long-term bicycle connection through CAMH. A temporary connection is first needed because CAMH will be undergoing a massive re-development of its site and construction will be ongoing for many years.
28. Can lane widths on Sudbury Street be reduced to 2.5m to minimize neighbourhood impacts and provide cycling facility?
Local streets with a centre marking line can have a 3.0 metre lane width.
Sudbury-Dovercourt is a local road but does not necessarily require a centre line and can have narrower lanes with the intention of slowing traffic. This type of decision will need to consider other factors such as snow storage, Fire Services and EMS access.
While some of the options presented at the December 1 public meeting required private lands to align the Raipath either behind properties or impacts from work in the public right of way, there are no plans to expropriate properties. The environmental assessment study is an opportunity to explore and evaluate different options, receive public feedback and determine a feasible recommendation. At this time, there is no recommendation to align the Railpath between Abell Street and King Street West. Also, the team did not intend for people to panic and instead wanted to convey the challenges, and suggestions for how to best move forward towards finding a solution. We aren't there yet.
Yes. There has been an initial meeting to share information and a follow up meeting to discuss the project in more detail.
31. What will happen to the existing green space on Sudbury Street between Queen Street West and Abell Street?
The existing green space on Sudbury Street south of Queen Street is subject to Metrolinx's rail expansion plans and was originally planned to be used for Railpath extension. Design options will endeavour to maintain as much of this green space as possible.
There are no current plans to remove street trees on Sudbury Street. Transportation Services will coordinate with the City Urban Forestry to determine and mitigate impacts to any trees along a future proposed alignment before proceeding with a recommended alignment and detailed design. The City can never be in a position to provide blanket assurance that specific trees will never be affected. For example, should a water main or gas line emergency require the removal of a tree, removal would be authorized if required to address public safety and service.
We recognize that the boulevard is popular with dog-owners and it is rare to find this type of space within the neighbourhood. This area is subject to Metrolinx's rail expansion plans and was originally planned to be used for Railpath extension. Design options will be considered that maintain the existing dog-friendly boulevard and green space along Sudbury Street to the fullest extent possible.
As part of further study and consultation to find a solution to align Railpath south from Abell Street, the City will be consulting on a number of issues and follow-up items including:
- How to pass over King Street West
- Need for a traffic study
- Suggestions from the last public meeting held on December 1, 2014
Further study and consultation will take place on these issues following the completion and approval of the current EA Study.