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March 12, 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 12, 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 12, 2015, the City of Toronto, City Planning Division (Transportation Planning), in partnership with TTC, hosted a public meeting as part of the Relief Line Project Assessment at Christ Church Deer Park, 1570 Yonge St., 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 55 people attended the public meeting, including Toronto City Councillor Josh Matlow.
Highlights of Participant Feedback

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. There was no process in place for homeowners impacted by construction to provide feedback before or during the redevelopment of Pape Station. Where in this process do you consult with homeowners who would be directly affected by the potential station areas?

A. Potential corridors for the Relief Line alignment will be presented during the next phase of the project, in May or June. We will begin to engage residents who live in proximity to the potential corridors at that time to ensure their concerns are addressed.

Everyone is welcome to contact us with concerns or questions at any time, and please provide feedback about how you would like to be engaged. Concerns of a homeowner who may be impacted by construction or operation of the line might be more specific than concerns of other community members.

Q. Are you considering the impact of the Regional Express Rail (RER) concept, including improved service to Richmond Hill to relieve crowding on the Yonge subway line?

A. City Council directed us to undertake a detailed review of SmartTrack, which would form a component of to the RER concept; work on that project is underway. We are simultaneously assessing the implications of the Relief Line, SmartTrack and the Scarborough Subway Extension on the transit network. Coordinating the analysis ensures an integrated and consistent approach to the work being done. We anticipate presenting coordinated recommendations to City Council for these projects at the end of this year.

Q. I am happy to hear that you are taking a network approach to transit planning. If the results of the studies currently underway suggest that certain projects do not meet broader city building goals, will you recommend that they should not be considered for construction?

A. The work we are undertaking as part of the Official Plan review focuses on 25 projects that have some status or support from the City or the province. We are working to identify which projects should be prioritized for implementation and do not anticipate recommending that any projects be cancelled.

Q. What is the prioritization process? What is the public engagement plan to ensure that it doesn’t become a politicized decision?

A. City Planning introduced a campaign in 2013 called "Feeling Congested?" to engage the public in the review of the transportation policies in the City's Official Plan. We are now about half way through the review of Official Plan policies. Council has adopted policy updates on goods movement, pedestrians and travel demand management. The remaining policy updates focus on the City’s cycling framework and transit network. We need to finish the transit studies currently underway before we can complete our recommendations on the prioritization of the 25 transit projects. Council will ultimately decide the priority of the transit projects.

Q. What criteria are you using to evaluate feedback from the public? How will you be reporting on the public feedback received through consultations?

A. We are not evaluating the feedback provided by the public, but we are using it to inform and strengthen our work. Comments from tonight’s meeting will be summarized and posted online. We will also be preparing a detailed report showing how each of the comments received during this phase of consultations will be taken into account. This type of report will be prepared at the end of each phase of the study.

The consultation process and the comments received will also be documented in the Environmental Project Report (EPR) that will be presented to Council at the end of year and will be consulted on during the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP).

Q. We have a history of building operational losers. How can we ensure the Relief Line will be an operational winner and earn its own way with new ridership, rather than drawing from existing transit users from the Bloor Danforth line or King and Queen streetcar routes?

A. Our analysis suggests that the Relief Line will support strong ridership based on current trends and forecasts. It is likely there will be additional ridership through growth beyond our planning horizon. Unlike the development of the Sheppard Subway which looked at long-term planning scenarios, the Relief Line is being modeled on current growth patterns and is needed to relieve existing and future crowding on the Yonge Subway and at the Yonge and Bloor interchange.

C. If the Bloor-Danforth line is extended north to the Sheppard line, Sheppard will become the terminus of dozens of service routes in north Toronto and Scarborough. This is our only hope of relieving gridlock. You should be doing pop-up meetings at Finch and Kennedy stations.

Q. Have you considered different pricing for different service routes (e.g., distance based fares)?

A. As we move forward and look at the network, including the SmartTrack and RER, fare integration will need to be considered, including how to price fares to provide effective mobility choices to transit users.

Q. Is there a plan to extend the Relief Line further west to accommodate population growth west of the downtown core?

A. An important factor in determining the terminus station downtown is its ability to facilitate a western extension. We would like your input on the evaluation criteria, which include considerations for northern and western relief line connections.

C. Moving forward, we need a long term vision that is communicated to Council. We do need a Scarborough line, although it may not be needed today, and we also need the Relief Line. My concern is that we will continue to have this same conversation without any results.

A. Toronto’s Official Plan includes a vision to create a more livable city, which includes improving transportation choices. Reviewing the 25 rapid transit projects is an important part of this work, as is their integration with the surface transit network.

Q. The terminus on the Bloor-Danforth line has to be considered carefully to ensure possibilities for a northern extension in the future. The Prince Edward Viaduct was built with the foresight I am referring to and included space to accommodate a subway line. Was the Leaside Bridge also constructed with subway capacity; if it was, it may provide a potential alignment for the Relief Line.

A. We are carefully considering how the potential station areas on the Bloor-Danforth Subway could facilitate a future extension north. We can't speak to specifics about the Leaside Bridge tonight, but it is a good comment and we will look into this.

Q. How do you balance neighbourhood needs with the needs of the transit network? How will you ensure integration with the local transit network to create an effective east end system?

A. We’re building the future of the City. While it’s important to understand ridership estimates and operational needs, it is also important to understand how this will help create the kind of the City we want to live in.

Service integration is one of the criteria that will be used to evaluate the performance of potential station areas to ensure that both neighbourhood needs and broader city-building goals are being met. We'll also be considering guidance provided in the Official Plan, for example, concerning the protection of stable residential areas, and areas where there are opportunities to accommodate forecasted growth. We will report on the results of the evaluation during the next phase of consultations.

 

Councillor Matlow answered two additional questions related to Council decisions about transit projects.

 

Potential station Areas

Participants provided the following feedback regarding potential station areas:

Key Activity Areas (East of Don River)

  • A station at Dundas and Carlaw Avenues would be too close to Gerrard St. E. and Pape Ave. and Queen St. and Carlaw Ave.; these two intersections are also more important for connections.
  • The potential station area south of Broadview Ave. could be a mobility hub.
  • Consider a station on Degrassi St.

Key Activity Areas (West of Don River)

  • Improve streetcar, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure in the downtown core.
  • Consider Jarvis and Parliament Streets as a potential station area instead of the one at Sherbourne St. and St. Lawrence Market.
  • Parliament St. between King and Front Streets is a key activity area.
  • Key activity areas west of the Don River also include the Canary District development, the Distillery District, George Brown College and Corktown Commons.
  • Consider naming a station after the historic Davies pork plant (e.g., Hogtown).

Potential Danforth Connections

  • Facilitate a connection to continue the Relief Line north across the Leaside Bridge over the Don Valley to Thorncliffe Park, Overlea and Don Mills.
  • Avoid new stations on the Bloor-Danforth line; the existing stations are already too close together.

Potential Downtown Connections

  • Protect connections to the Waterfront.
  • The southern Yonge University Spadina subway line could easily facilitate connections west to Liberty Village.
  • Consider Dundas or Queen Streets for the east/west alignment of the Relief Line; King St. is too close to Union station. 
  • Union station is already too crowded and too far from the financial district.
  • A station on Wellington St., between King and St. Andrew stations, would be useful.

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

 

Next Steps

A more detailed report of all consultation activities will be made available in the near future. 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.