March 9, 2015 Consultation Event Highlights
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 9, 2015. A more detailed report of the feedback captured during this phase of consultations will be prepared in the coming days.
On Monday, March 9, 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 St. Lawrence Hall, 157 King 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 given by Stella Gustavson, Program Manager, and David Cooper, Senior Planner, both of the Transit Implementation Unit, 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 generally on the project.
Approximately 100 people attended the public 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 Stella Gustavson and David Cooper as well as Tim Läspä (Director, Transportation Planning, City of Toronto) and Paul Millett (Chief Project Engineer, Engineering, Construction and Expansion Section, TTC).
Q. Can there be a new corridor for SmartTrack or Regional Express Rail (RER) through the study area (e.g., new tunnel or above grade track)?
A. The proposed SmartTrack alignment is part of the RER commuter rail service. There is potential for a series of SmartTrack stations on the existing Lake Shore East GO Rail corridor. Those stations could also connect to the Relief Line forming interchange stations. Commuter rail does not have the same capacity as subway service since it does not run as frequently, so we have determined that a newly constructed line should be a subway.
Q. What is the projected ridership for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT compared to other existing TTC routes?
A. [not available at the meeting] The projected daily ridership on the Eglinton Crosstown in 2031 between Kennedy Station and Mt. Dennis is 162 000 riders.
Q. What is the projected ridership for SmartTrack compared to the Relief Line and other existing TTC routes?
A. We received direction from City Council to review SmartTrack in detail three weeks ago. We have just begun to undertake that work so we don’t have that information available today. It is something that we will be studying as part of our coordinated transit planning work over the next few months.
Q. What would happen to ridership on the 504 King and 501 Queen streetcar routes?
A. Modeling work indicates that around 35% of streetcar riders coming into downtown from the east could transfer to the Relief Line, alleviating crowding on both streetcar routes. In the shorter term, the streetcar fleet is being replaced with higher capacity streetcars, which will also help to relieve some of the crowding.
C. That will relieve crowding on both routes, but not address the frequency of service which is affected by vehicular traffic. We need a subway on either King or Queen Streets, continuing west of Yonge St.
Q. Is there a suggestion for a Relief Line station at Carlaw Ave. and Danforth Ave.?
A. The potential station areas identify possible locations for the Relief Line stations, including connections to the Bloor Danforth line. On the map, the darker circles highlight existing stations. There are a few potential station areas for the Relief Line that do not line up exactly with existing stations on the Bloor-Danforth Subway because some existing stations do not align with street rights-of-way (ROW). A Relief Line alignment that lines up with a street ROW would reduce the potential for impact on residential areas.
Q. Could more stations be added on the Bloor-Danforth line?
A. If an interchange station is not possible, it will most likely be a walking transfer between the Relief Line and the Bloor-Danforth Line; there are no plans to add a station to the Bloor-Danforth Subway.
Q. What informed the eastern and western boundaries of the study area? Why not extend the Relief Line further east to connect to the GO station near Main Street station?
A. The study area was reviewed during the first phase of the project and informed by feedback received through consultation with the public. The study area boundary is for the physical infrastructure however we are considering travel patterns and the movement of transit users across the city and GTA.
Q. I want to ensure that the project team is getting feedback from transit users, not just local residents. From a communications perspective, what are the City and TTC doing to counter misinformation about the project as the “Downtown Relief Line” instead of the “Relief Line”? My concern is that the project will not receive support if it is perceived as transit service for downtown residents only.
A. We are holding four public meetings for the Relief Line – three in the study area and one in a central location as this is a City wide issue. In terms of communications, we have been using a number of different channels including the TTC, City and project websites, screens in the subway stations, local and commuter newspapers, etc. We will also be holding pop-up consultations at subways stations during the course of this study to gain feedback from transit users as well.
Q. Last year Councillor Fragedakis put forward a motion to change the project name; she even proposed a contest. What happened to that motion?
A. The naming contest is included in the consultation work plan approved by city council and we are still planning to do this as part of the process.
Q. How were the intermediate potential station areas chosen? Could you explain why Sherbourne was chosen and not Parliament?
A. We took into account a number of different factors while compiling the long list of potential station areas, including the Official Plan, future development and potential transit connections.
C. I would like to see a serious commitment to both the Relief Line and SmartTrack emerge from these discussions. There is a need to reduce the number of cars on local streets in the downtown core, particularly as residents who live in the area are primarily pedestrians.
Q. It appears that you will using one rail yard for two subway lines, is it safe to do so?
A. We are currently studying locations for additional rail yards, particularly as the Wilson yard is full and the need for added capacity for the Scarborough Subway Extension.
Q. What is the financing strategy for the project?
A. It is important to understand that while the current study is funded, capital funding for the Relief Line has not been committed. Part of the Project Assessment is demonstrating the need and identifying the best technical solutions for funding consideration.
Q. What is the timeline for completion of the project?
A. The project is currently in the planning study phase, which will be followed by a legislated six-month Transit Project Assessment Process to satisfy the Environmental Assessment Act. Following the review process, we would proceed with design and engineering and then ultimately construction. The timeline is likely in the range of 11 to 14 years before operation of the Relief Line.
Q. Can you tell us about the ridership assumptions?
A. When we do this kind of travel forecasting, we consider several different factors including future population and employment growth trends used to establish future conditions for the Official Plan, as well as the future overall transit network (e.g., links to surface transit). The ridership estimates are generated using this information.
Q. Are you considering a three track subway system?
A. Not at this time; there is not enough demand to support a three track system.
C. You have sufficient studies and statistics – the timelines for this project are too long and the cost too high. Consider learning from the experiences of other cities (e.g., Sydney, London) to identify how to expedite the project. We need a Relief Line as soon as possible.
Potential station Areas
Participants provided the following feedback regarding potential station areas:
Key Activity Areas (East of Don River)
- Potential extension of Broadview Ave. south to Lake Shore Blvd.
- Consider the Alton Prust Alignment.
Key Activity Areas (West of Don River)
- Consider the needs of future development (e.g., New YMCA at Front and Parliament Streets, Canary District, Port Lands, Globe and Mail building, etc.).
- Consider an alignment on King St. to serve George Brown College.
- The St. Lawrence Market is a key destination and should be considered as a potential station area.
- The Distillery District is a key activity area.
- Preserve David Crombie Park.
- Consider the potential station areas for a western extension of the Relief Line.
- There are floodplain issues for an alignment on King and River streets.
Potential Danforth Connections
- Cut and cover construction is a concern as access to many residential streets would be restricted (e.g., potential station area at Jones St.).
- There is not enough room for an alignment that connects to Greenwood station via the existing rail yard.
- Danforth Tech is one of the only public schools remaining in the area; safety is a concern if there is an interchange station at Greenwood station.
- Pape Ave. is the easiest corridor to build under if the Relief Line will extend north to Leaside.
- Chester is a quiet station; Pape is the busiest hub on the Bloor Danforth line.
Potential Downtown Connections
- Consider stations on Wellington St. E or Front St. to minimize the short-term disruptions to streetcar service on King and Queen streets.
- Ensure a direct connection between interchange stations to make transfers efficient (i.e., no tunnels).
- Sherbourne and Front Streets to provide access to key destinations near the waterfront (e.g., Sugar Beach, Port Lands, George Brown Campus and St. Lawrence Market).
- Consider a station at St. Lawrence Market if the Relief Line will connect to Union Station rather than King Station.
- Downtown connections should be informed by potential stations west of the core.
- Consider a station at King St. and Bay St. to diffuse connections to Union Station and the Yonge line, minimizing the impact of service disruptions.
- Ensure connections to the PATH system.
- Focus potential connections on Queen or King Streets; there is no need for a station on Bay St.
- Consider the following alignment – Broadview to King/Front to Parliament.
Participants also provided the following comments about the potential station area options:
- Consider the demand for transit from pedestrians (e.g., King St. and Jarvis St.).
- The Canary District will be a key destination.
- Preserve land that is currently vacant for future stations.
- Consider potential access to the lake.
- No Relief Line in Riverdale.
- Consider a ROW for streetcars on King and Queen streets.
Draft Evaluation Criteria
Like the previous two public meetings, 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):
- Serve People;
- Strengthen Places; and
- 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.
Participants also provided the following comments about the evaluation criteria:
- Consider making transit more accessible to low-income people to ensure social equity.
- Less crowding will make the overall system more accessible for transit uses that require mobility devices.
- Consider re-purposing the old Canadian Pacific Railway line in the Don Valley.
- Relieving crowding on the King and Queen streetcar routes as well as extending the Relief Line westward should be prioritized.
- Transit development should consider the needs existing neighbourhoods and future growth.
- Consider a Relief Line station north of the Bloor Danforth line in this phase of the study (e.g., Mortimer Ave. at Cosburn Ave.).
- Look at examples of beautiful station design from Vancouver and Calgary.
- Concerned about station redundancy as station location for SmartTrack and the Scarborough Subway Extension have not been identified.
One more public meeting is 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.