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April 10, 2014 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 collected during a public meeting held on April 10, 2014.


On Thursday, April 10, 2014, the City of Toronto, City Planning Division (Transportation Planning) and TTC hosted a public meeting  jointly with Metrolinx as a part of the Regional Relief Strategy as part of the at Riverdale Collegiate Institute, 1094 Gerrard Street East, Toronto.  The purpose of the City/TTC portion of the public meeting was to gather feedback on the proposed study process (i.e., proposed Terms of Reference and draft Public Consultation Plan) for the Relief Line Project Assessment.

Following a presentation by Tim Laspa, Director, Transportation Planning, City of Toronto, participants had the opportunity to ask questions and engage in facilitated discussions about the proposed Terms of Reference and draft Public Consultation Plan. Notes were recorded at each discussion and participants were encouraged to record their individual notes in a discussion guide.

Approximately 115 people signed in at the public meeting, including the following elected officials: Councillors Paula Fletcher and Mary Fragedakis, and MPP Peter Tabuns.


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”.

Q.You used the term downtown shoulder area. Can you explain what that is?

A. Downtown shoulder refers to the areas just outside the downtown core. Improving access to transit and increasing opportunities for people to use transit in the shoulder areas would help relieve overcrowding on surface routes (e.g., buses and streetcars).

Q. I first heard about this project in 2010. Why did it take three years to get this point? It appears it will be another 15 years before we may be able to get on an actual subway.

A. We received direction from Council in 2009 and the feasibility study was completed by TTC in 2012.It takes a long time to study and plan a significant piece of infrastructure in a mature part of the city. Having said that, we are fast-tracking the study process as much as possible. Normally this study process would take 24-36 months but we are working with the local councillors to engage people in the community and complete the study in approximately 15-16 months.

Q. By the time the plan is complete. The demography of Toronto will have changed. Can you speak to that?

A. We are taking how the city will grow into account in this study. On the City's side, the study is being conducted through the City Planning Division, so we are well-positioned to coordinate projected demographics, land use patterns and transit as we move through the study process.

Q. I live in the east end and there is only one route that makes logical sense (e.g., Pape Avenue) for a relief line based on the existing pattern of development and land use. Given the obviousness of the only alignment conceivable in my mind, is it true that we could have shovels in the ground by the end of 2018?

A. That is not consistent with our projected timeline. With respect to the route, keep in mind that the relief line is expected to accommodate approximately 12,000 passengers during peak hour and therefore will most likely be separated from grade (underground). So the route is mostly about how it connects to the Bloor-Danforth line, the Yonge-University Spadina line and across the Don Valley instead of what surface roads it lies beneath.

Q. The 504 streetcar travels from Broadview station through the downtown core to the west end. Why can’t you upgrade that line with the new streetcars to handle a greater number of passengers?

A. We are taking into account what can be done with the new streetcars as well as other existing surface routes.

C. Why does the study area stop at Coxwell Avenue instead of Main Street? Clearly what Metrolinx is doing in the east will have an impact on the plan for the relief line. I would like to see the area to the East included to get a full sense of the impact of Metrolinx’s projects on this study.

Q. When is the critical time for the public to get involved politically?

A. The critical time to get involved and show public support for this project is when we go to Council, Planning and Growth Management Committee or the TTC board.

Q. What has been accomplished in the work completed over the past five years regarding the relief line? How is that different from what will be studied here?

A. The concept of the relief line as a whole was the focus of previous studies. Those studies looked at the feasibility and need for a relief line and whether any piece of it could be prioritized. The conclusion was that the whole line has merit but the eastern segment is a priority. There has been some preliminary analysis of route alignments and stations. If and when the study moves into Phase 1B the material from past studies will be presented as background information.

Q. Will passenger load be considered as an element going forward?

A. Yes.

Q. How will the public meeting taking place on Saturday morning differ from tonight’s meeting?

A. It will be similar to tonight’s meeting, but the focus will be on the Relief Line Project Assessment without a joint Metrolinx component.


Small Group Facilitated Discussions

Terms of Reference

1. How can we improve the study process or Terms of Reference? 

  • The timeline presented for the project is too slow; expedite the study process (e.g., consider shorter phases, or complete them in parallel).
  • Extend the study area east to include Main Street.
  • Identify short-term opportunities (e.g., “low-hanging fruit”) and integrate them into the study.
  • Separate the results of the study into short-, medium- and long-term options.
  • Extend the study area north to Eglinton Avenue. 
  • Include metrics to help contextualize research results (e.g. cost-savings).
  • Include legal provisions in the Terms of Reference to prevent political interference or delays.

2. Is there anything missing from the study process?

  • Include some measure or element of quality control (i.e., avoid what happened when streetcar lines were dug up after they were completed the year before).
  • Clarify which agency is responsible for completing the project on time to ensure accountability.
  • Include an urban planning visioning process of the study area in the project (e.g., complete streets, Gerard Square as a node, etc.).

3. Do you have any other comments or suggestions for the Relief Line project study?

  • Concern about the lack of control regarding Council’s involvement and the ability to extend or delay the process.
  • Ensure the evaluation process is robust and transparent.
  • Balance regional and local objectives of transit projects.
  • Coordinate land use and transportation planning.


Public Consultation

1. How do you want to be involved in the Relief Line Project study process?

  • Ensure the appropriate stakeholders (e.g., Business Improvement Areas) are included in the consultation process.
  • Ensure consultations engage a broad range of stakeholders, such as transit riders and not just land owners or community groups. 
  • Engage key infrastructure groups throughout the study and draw on their expertise (e.g., GO Transit, Canadian Pacific Rail).
  • Review the Planning Act to ensure key stakeholders are involved throughout the consultation process.

2. Which engagement tools would you find most useful to learn about and provide input to the study?

  • Encourage more organic conversations about the project.
  • Engage the public through satellite presentations and consultation events.
  • Continue the style of consultation used this evening (e.g., plenary presentation followed by small group discussions).

3. When (time of day) should public meetings be held regarding the Relief Line Project?

No comments from the table discussions report back regarding time of day. 

4. Where should public meetings be held regarding the Relief Line Project?

  • Organic meetings in kitchens, local community spaces, schools and on transit as well as the more formal town hall meetings and on line engagement. 

5. What outline and/or social media tools would you use to provide input to the Relief Line Project?

  • Consider using web-based broadcasting tools like YouTube as part of the consultation process.
  • Use a range of social media tools to extend outreach and information to the public (appreciated opportunity created through Wiki).


Next Steps

A more detailed report will be prepared for review by the project team and for distribution online. The report will incorporate any additional feedback received through subsequent public meetings and the online participation tool by April 17, 2014, which is the closing date for comments for Phase 1A.