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March 5, 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 5, 2015. A more detailed report of the feedback captured during this phase of consultations will be prepared in the coming days.

Introduction

On Thursday, March 5, 2015, the City of Toronto, City Planning Division (Transportation Planning) and TTC, hosted a public meeting as part of the Relief Line Project Assessment at Riverdale Collegiate Institute, 1094 Gerrard St. E., 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 one-on-one conversation with project staff at the display boards and maps. Participants provided feedback on the station area options, on the evaluation criteria and on the project in general. 

Approximately 120 people attended the public meeting, including the following elected officials: Toronto City Councillors, Paula Fletcher and Janet Davis, Member of Provincial Parliament, Peter Tabuns and Member of Parliament, Craig Scott. 

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. When will the Relief Line be in service?

A. The project process includes phases for planning, detailed engineering design and construction, which will like take about 12-14 years to complete. The timeline depends on the complexity of some of the engineering and construction work. For example, alignment over or under the Don Valley and connections downtown and along the Danforth.

Q. Why does the study area stop at Coxwell Ave.? Are multi-modal transportation options being considered in the station design (e.g., bike sharing, walkability)? 

A. The study area was introduced as part of our first phase of work in 2014 and was finalized based on feedback received during that phase of work. It 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.

Ensuring that stations work well from a community perspective in terms of walkability and providing multi-modal connections will be considered in more detail during the design phase of the project, but are certainly important elements of the project overall.

Q. Is the study taking into consideration existing destinations and proposed private developments (e.g., shopping facilities, 21 Don Roadway proposal)?

A. Yes. Key destinations such as schools, parks, community centres, and other activity areas are included as part of our evaluation process.  In addition, we are gathering information about planned development activity, as well as looking at opportunities for redevelopment as part of our analysis.  We would like to hear your thoughts about destinations that are important to you. 

Q. How do you measure capacity? Does it consider passenger comfort or is it simply the number of people that can physically fit on a subway train?

A. Subway capacity is based on TTC loading standards. Capacity for the new Toronto Rocket Trains is 1100 passengers per train, which enables passengers to board and alight trains quickly. Unfortunately today we are over capacity during rush hour and most trains exceed the standards. 

Q. Are your calculations about the impact of SmartTrack, Regional Express Rail (RER) or new streetcar services based on current conditions or what they will be when the Relief Line is built? It seems to me, the best way to relieve congestion on the Yonge line is to provide double track service to Richmond Hill every fifteen minutes.

A. Our projections consider future conditions for population, employment and land use to 2031 to ensure coordination with provincial planning.

Modelling that we have already done assumes service increases for GO Transit to 2031, which includes some consideration of Metrolinx' Regional Express Rail (RER). A maximum of 15-minute headways on all lines except Richmond Hill, which assumes a 20-minute headway, are part of these models. In the coming months, models will be updated to fully account for SmartTrack and RER.

There are substantial engineering and cost challenges in expanding the Richmond Hill GO corridor to two tracks, particularly through the Don Valley.

Q. What efforts are being made to reduce the impact of noise and vibration from the Relief Line on adjacent properties when it is completed?

A. There are currently strict regulatory requirements that were not in place when the Bloor-Danforth subway line was being developed. The requirements include plans to mitigate noise, vibration and dust during construction and operations. Subway technology has also significantly improved since the Bloor Danforth line was constructed using design features which minimize noise and vibration (e.g., double ties, rubber isolation pucks under the rails). When we are closer to choosing an alignment, we will be able to share further detail about how these types of impacts will be mitigated.

Q. Have you researched the geologic conditions in the study area? 

A. There is a significant amount of geotechnical information available from previous planning studies and construction projects in the study area; we are in the process of collecting as much of this information as possible. Once the alignment of the Relief line has been identified, we will be doing further, extensive geotechnical assessments well before any construction begins.

Q. What kind of funding options are being considered to finance the Relief Line?

A. The Relief Line is part of Metrolinx' "Next Wave" of future rapid transit projects, which typically receive provincial funding. There is no committed funding for the project at this time beyond the study we are currently undertaking. Once we know what we should build, future decisions will need to be made about funding.

Q. When the study report is submitted to Council for approval will you be recommending relief for businesses to minimize the disruptive impact of construction?

A. We will be focusing on developing the recommended alignment. We will also be talking to Council about some of the issues that we are aware of, and next steps. The exact recommendations will be based on the recommended alignment; further discussions will take place during the design phase of the project.

Q. Once the station areas have been identified, have you considered buying the property or surrounding block and developing it as a multi- or mixed-use project to recover some of the costs based on the model used in Asian countries? 

A. We will be considering how stations can be integrated with transit oriented development as we move through the planning and design process for the Relief Line. We have had a recent successful experience through the Eglinton Connects study, which provided assistance to Metrolinx in exploring these ideas at some of the Crosstown stations.

 

Potential station Areas

Participants provided the following feedback regarding potential station areas:

Key Activity Areas (East of Don River)

  • Ensure transit options to keep pace with residential development throughout East York
  • Consider a station near Carlaw and Eastern Avenues to support economic development south of Eastern Ave.
  • The impact of noise and vibration are a huge issue for residents.
  • A theatre at Carlaw Ave. and Dundas St. was identified as a key activity area.

Key Activity Areas (West of Don River)

  • Consider accessibility requirements of aging populations.
  • Prioritize accessibility for low-income commuters as they have few transportation options.
  • Consider a station at Sherbourne and King Streets to serve new condo residents and students from George Brown College.
  • Set aside land now for future stations, before it is all developed.
  • Consider a station between Regent Park and the West Don Lands neighbourhoods.

Potential Danforth Connections

  • The City Adult Learning Centre at Danforth Ave. and Broadview Ave. was suggested as a potential site for station development 
  • Ensure connections to future LRT service routes.
  • Consider accessibility requirements of aging populations.
  • Interchange stations would be more convenient and provide more options to commuters.
  • Gerrard St. E. at Carlaw Ave. would be a good station location south from Pape or Donlands stations.
  • Pape station was identified as suitable interchange station as it is also the terminus of several bus routes.
  • Consider destination uses around potential station areas.
  • Determine the ideal station or location where commuters would divert or immediately board the Relief Line (e.g., Pape and Donlands stations).
  • A station at Jones Ave. would be too close to Pape and Donlands stations.
  • Jones or Greenwood Avenues were suggested as better options for a north-south alignment as there is no right-of-way on Donlands Ave.
  • Feedback suggested the need for a Relief Line station east of Greenwood Ave. as the subway is already congested by the time it reached Donlands station.
  • A Relief Line station at Coxwell or Greenwood stations is too far east to benefit commuters who live in Thorncliffe Park.

Potential Downtown Connections

  • Union Station is perceived as too busy; a station at Spadina Ave was suggested as an alternate location.
  • Ensure interchange connections if a new station is developed to facilitate transfers (e.g., at Wellington St. or Spadina Ave.).
  • Some participants feel that King and St. Andrew stations are ideal for Relief Line connections.
  •  Comments noted that constructing a subway below either King or Queen Streets would be too disruptive.
  • Feedback advised against new stops on the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line.
  • Study passenger origins and destinations to identify appropriate downtown connections.

Draft Evaluation Criteria

[Feedback from participants was consistent with the feedback received on the public meeting held on Tuesday, March 3, 2015.]

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

Two 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.