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March 3, 2015 Consultation Event Highlights

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This concise Highlights Report has been prepared by Lura Consulting to provide the City of Toronto with a snapshot of the feedback captured at the public meeting held on March 3, 2015. A more detailed report of the feedback captured during this phase of consultations will be prepared in the coming days.

Introduction

On Tuesday, March 3, 2015, the City of Toronto, City Planning Division (Transportation Planning) in partnership with the TTC, hosted a public meeting as part of the Relief Line Project Assessment at Calvary Church, 746 Pape Ave., Toronto. The purpose of the public meeting was to introduce the Relief Line Project Assessment and gather feedback on potential station areas and draft evaluation criteria.

Following an introductory video (available at http://reliefline.ca) and a presentation by Tim Läspä, Director, Transportation Planning, City of Toronto, participants had the opportunity to ask questions of clarification as well as provide feedback on potential station areas and the draft evaluation criteria. Following the question and answer period, meeting participants were able to have conversations with project staff at the display boards and maps. Participants provided feedback on the station area options, on the evaluation criteria and generally on the project.

Approximately 100 people attended the public meeting, including the following elected officials: Toronto City Councillor, Mary Fragedakis; Member of Provincial Parliament, Peter Tabuns; and, Member of Parliament, Craig Scott. Councillor Paula Fletcher attended during the feedback discussion period of the meeting.

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 Tim Läspä (Director, Transportation Planning, City of Toronto) and Paul Millett (Chief Project Engineer, Engineering, Construction and Expansion Section, TTC).

Q. York University and Pearson International Airport are located in the west end of the City, while the zoo is the only destination in the east end. Why wasn’t the subway extension initiated in the west end?

A. We are trying to reduce crowding on the Yonge subway line and at the Yonge-Bloor interchange station. We found that people traveling downtown from the west end can use the University-Spadina line. In effect there is already choice of route for riders in the west end. The eastern portion provides the most immediate benefit to address crowding on the Yonge line and at the Yonge-Bloor interchange.

Q. Will you be using the existing platforms or building new ones where stations on the Relief Line form an interchange with existing subway stations?

A. Stations where the Relief Line will connect to existing subway lines will need to have new tracks and platforms added. Configuration of the stations will be determined at a later stage as part of more detailed design, after a preferred alignment has been identified.

Q. Why has the boundary been decided as it is? Why is it not further east of Coxwell Ave. at Main St. or Woodbine Ave?

A. We consulted the public about the study area boundary during the first phase of work in 2014. The study area represents the area where the subway tunnels and stations will be located. We are also mindful of mobility needs across the City and GTA, which extend beyond the study area and benefits outside of this study area are a key consideration in the study.

Q. About six to eight years ago there was talk of an LRT on Don Mills Rd. Back then a route on Pape Ave. was problematic as the street is narrow. Could you use either Pape Ave. or Donlands Ave. as an end point and rough in the other one, so when the time comes to build the extension you would not be starting from square one?

A. The Don Mills LRT is one of the 25 projects that are included in the Official Plan. The long term plan is for this route to connect to the Relief Line. The connection could either be an extension of the Relief Line (subway) north or an extension of the Don Mills LRT south. Information about Don Mills LRT is available online.

Q. About 40-50 years ago, the TTC bought land on the west side of the rail yard with the intention to create the ability for trains to move back and forth on the Bloor-Danforth line and the Relief Line without an expensive u-shaped alignment. To what degree has any of that work been completed?

A. TTC is completing a comprehensive inventory of land owned by the City and TTC. How the yard can be accessed is a significant consideration in determining the alignment of the Relief Line. All options for connection will be considered later this year once potential alignments have been developed.

Q. How much work is being done to coordinate construction activities with other projects (e.g., First Gulf development, etc.) to minimize disruption?

A. We will be coordinating construction as much as possible. We will be looking for opportunities, particularly when planning approvals are in place, to coordinate development projects to ensure station infrastructure can be accommodated.

Q. When evaluating alignment options on King and Queen Streets, will you be considering the potential impact to streetcar service on those routes?

A. Yes. The construction method has not yet been determined, but disruption will be a key consideration in choosing what method will be used. Even if we do not dig up the streets to construct the tunnels, we will have to deal with utilities and the relocation of services under the road. Potential disruption will also be a factor in selecting the route.

Q. There are a lot of residential neighbourhoods south of Danforth Ave – is the plan to tunnel under people’s homes?

A. TTC would prefer to tunnel in street rights-of-way to avoid affecting private property. However, it is likely that tunnels will be underneath some private property no matter which alignment is chosen. Route selection will consider potential impact to stable residential neighbourhoods, and we will be exploring every way to minimize disruption to homes and businesses.

Q. I commend you for fine work presented this evening. This project has been on again, off again for decades. Where is the funding going to come from and has anything been committed to date?

A. There is a budget for the study that is currently underway, but there is currently no dedicated capital funding for this project. The study will demonstrate the need and value of this project and articulate it to Council. At that point there will be an opportunity for discussion to secure funding. This is a normal/standard process for a large capital project, and there is a lot of support for this project at Council and amongst the public.

Q. Beyond the study phases of work, what is the schedule to implement the project?

A. We are currently in the Project Assessment phase of work which will be completed later this year. After the assessment is completed, we will present our recommendations to Council and ask for authority to proceed with a Transit Project Assessment Process, which would take six months. Following that, detailed engineering design will take about two to three years and construction will take about 8-10 years. From start to finish the project will take approximately 15 years to complete. We will look for opportunities to make this quicker, throughout the planning, design and construction phases.

Q. Can you speak to the guidelines in place about locating stations near residences, or on parks and greenspaces? Could you also speak to traffic studies?

A. There are Official Plan policies in place to protect sensitive lands – I suspect stations will not be developed on greenspaces, parkland, ravines, or school sites. In addition, we want to minimize impacts to stable residential areas. We are looking for areas where stations would be best suited, areas that provide access and mobility for the neighbourhood, connectivity to surface transit networks, and access to key activity areas.

Q. Are there any studies or information available about the impact of vibrations from the trains passing?

A. There have been significant improvements in rail technology since construction of the Bloor-Danforth Subway to minimize vibration (e.g., double ties, rubber pads). As part of this study we will be doing a noise and vibration analysis for both construction and operation, per Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change requirements. In order to get approval there are guidelines we have to meet. As the study progresses, that information will become available.

 

Potential station Areas

Participants provided the following feedback regarding potential station areas:

Key Activity Areas (East of Don River)

  • Gerrard St. E. was identified as a good corridor for the Relief Line by some participants.
  • Gerrard Square was identified as a potential interchange location, providing connections to SmartTrack service and Union Station.
  • Participants suggested avoiding stations in residential areas and on greenspaces and would like more information about traffic impacts.

Key Activity Areas (West of Don River)

  • Ensure connections to major hubs to reduce transfers.
  • Consider a downtown connection at Queen St., north of Union Station, but along the PATH.
  • Avoid replicating Liberty Village – ensure there are transit connections for new residential developments.
  • Don’t jeopardize the history of small streets like Percy and Bright.
  • The Waterfront is a good walking distance from the Relief Line.

Potential Danforth Connections

  • Centennial College, Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park were identified as key destinations from Pape Station.
  • A high school was identified between Greenwood and Donlands stations.
  • Six residential streets that can only be accessed at the south end of Pape Ave. were highlighted.
  • Pape Station was identified as a good location to extend rapid transit service north to Don Mills by some participants.
  • Some participants feel that the intersection at Pape Ave. and Danforth Ave. is too congested; Donlands station area was identified as a less congested interchange.
  • There is some concern about Donlands as a terminus station as the street ends at Danforth Ave.
  • Some participants feel that Carlaw Ave. or Pape Ave. offer viable corridors to downtown riders.
  • Some participants feel that a route from Don Lands to Gerrard Square would have the least impact on residences, while others noted that there is no ROW south of Donlands Ave.
  • It was suggested that it would be easier to tunnel under Greenwood Station and the TTC yard compared to residential properties.
  • A few participants noted that regardless of the terminus points, the Relief Line route should provide connections to the GO transit and SmartTrack services.

Potential Downtown Connections

  • Stack tunnels to navigate tight corridors.
  • Put a station between Bay and Yonge Streets to serve both.
  • Put a station between King and St. Andrew stations to add connections in the core.
  • Some participants feel that Union Station is already congested during peak travel times and advised against an interchange there, while other noted that an interchange at Union Station would enable connections to other subway lines, GO transit, workplaces and attractions.
  • One participant suggested a route under Adelaide St. to avoid impact on the 501/504 streetcar lines.

 

Draft Evaluation Criteria

Participants were given 5 dots and asked to place the dots on the criteria that they feel are most important to them. Based on the number of dots placed on the evaluation criteria, feedback from participants indicated support for evaluation criteria to assess how the Relief Line will (in order of importance):

  1. Serve People;
  2. Strengthen Places; and
  3. Support Prosperity.

Under the category Serving People, criteria assessing Choice and Experience received the most dots, while Social Equity received significantly fewer dots.

Under the category Strengthening Places, criteria to assess Shaping the City received the most dots, followed closely by Public Health and Environment and then Healthy Neighbourhoods.

In the final category Supporting Prosperity, criteria assessing “Supports Growth” received considerably more dots than criteria to assess Affordability.

Criteria to assess other considerations related to stations on the Bloor Danforth line received considerably more dots than criteria to assess Downtown Stations.

 

Next Steps

Three more public meetings are scheduled during this phase of consultations, after which a more detailed report of all consultation activities will be made available. Comments must be submitted by March 27, 2015 to ensure inclusion in this report.

Using the feedback received, the project team will finalize the potential station areas and evaluation criteria. In Phase 3, the potential station areas will be evaluated, potential corridors will be identified and evaluated and potential alignments will be developed.