Stakeholder Advisory Group Meeting 1
Tuesday, March 24, 2015 | 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Snell Hall, St. James Cathedral Centre | 65 Church St.
Israt Ahmed, Social Planning Toronto
Sophia Athanasopoulos, GreekTown on the Danforth BIA
Suhail Barot, TTC Riders
Morgan Baskin, Church of the Holy Trinity
Ole Calderone, Corktown Residents and Business Association
Berni Campbell, Degrassi/Wardell Neighbourhood Group
Gilles Durot, The Pocket
Derek Goring, First Gulf
Sonja Greckol, Toronto Women's City Alliance
Julia Greenbaum, Bloor-East Neighbourhood Association
David Jackson, Distillery Historic District
Karl Junkin, Transport Action Ontario
Ryan Kichler, Yonge-Dundas Square
Briar de Lange, Bloor-Yorkville BIA
Lana MacInnes, Degrassi/Wardell Neighbourhood Group
Cameron MacLeod, CodeRedTO
Rory Macleod, Cadillac Fairview
Erin McGinn, Ryerson University
Mark Nesbitt, George Brown College
Craig Nichol, Advisory Committee on Accessible Transit
Dan O'leary, St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Association
Rebecca Phinnemore, TTC Riders
Joseph Ruscitti, Toronto Catholic District School Board
Tina Scherz, Woodgreen Community Services
Aaron Short, Urban Land Institute - Toronto
Mario Silva, Toronto District School Board
Al Smith, St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood BIA
Nancy Smith-Lea, Toronto Centre for Active Transportation
Keith Veira, Gooderham & Worts Neighbourhood Association
Evan M. Weinberg, Financial District BIA
Stephen Wickens, Danforth East Community Association
Tricia Wood, CodeRedTO
Anjuli, Riverside District BIA
Glenn Gustafson, Deputy Mayor McConnell's Office
Eric Morse, The Bulletin
Tim Läspä, Director, Transportation Planning
Paul Millett, Chief Project Engineer, Engineering, Construction and Expansion Section, TTC
Stella Gustavson, Program Manager, Transit Implementation Unit
David Cooper, Transit Implementation Unit
Michael Hain, Transit Implementation Unit
Charissa Iogna, Transit Implementation Unit
Kate Kusiak, Transit Implementation Unit
Mike Logan, Transit Implementation Unit
Hans Riekko, Transit Implementation Unit
Kate Nelischer, Public Consultation Unit
Jason Diceman, Public Consultation Unit
Project Consultant Team
Andrew O'Connor, HDR Inc.
Leah Winter, LURA Consulting
Mary Zajac, Argyle Communications
(Meeting minutes will be circulated)
519 Church Street Community Centre
Cabbagetown South Residents' Association
City Youth Council of Toronto
Confederation of Resident and Ratepayer Associations in Toronto
Danforth Mosaic BIA
Downtown Yonge BIA
Eastview Community Centre
Garden District Residents' Association
Gerrard East Community Organization
Gerrard India Bazaar BIA
Greater Toronto Civic Action Alliance
Greek Community of Toronto
Kempton Howard Community Association
Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
Regent Park Community Health Centre
South Riverdale Community Health Centre
The Danforth BIA
Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas
Toronto Region Board of Trade
Yonge-Bloor-Bay Business Association
1. Agenda Review, Opening Remarks and Introduction
Stella Gustavson, Program Manager, Transportation Planning, City of Toronto welcomed participants to the first Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) meeting for the Relief Line Project Assessment. 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. Mike Logan and David Cooper, Senior Transportation Planners, City of Toronto, provided an overview presentation. Participants had the opportunity to ask questions of clarification as well as provide feedback through small group discussions. 33 participants attended the meeting representing a variety of stakeholder groups.
2. Questions of Clarification
A summary of the Question and Answer period following the presentation is provided below. Questions are noted with Q, responses are noted by A, and comments are noted by C. 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. How much flexibility are you allowing with respect to the number of stations along the route? What we’ve been hearing in the media is that the goal is to move from Danforth Avenue to the Union Station area as quickly as possible which suggests that fewer stations are preferred.
A. The primary objective of this project is to relieve crowding at Bloor-Yonge Station and on the Yonge Subway. That being said, this will be a new subway traversing the city so there is the opportunity to have stations that link to key activity areas identified in the various neighbourhoods. We have not decided on a number of stations at this time. We want to understand whether we have identified the right key activity areas which would then lead to station options. Once we have the evaluation criteria we will be coming back to the public with a series of station options based on that criteria. We will also start to frame corridor opportunities that connect those station options between Danforth Avenue and the downtown. We are at the early stages of the process.
Q. The Queen Street Subway project was started years ago but not finished. Is there a way this infrastructure can be integrated into the Relief Line?
A. There is a station box that exists under Queen Station. Part of this box is currently being used as a walkway, but there may be some way to utilize it in the Relief Line.
Q. I am wondering about the relationship between the Relief Line and SmartTrack. Will there be separate stations or any opportunity for integration?
A. There is the opportunity in some cases for stations on the GO Transit corridor to be interchange stations with the Relief Line. We don’t know for sure which of the proposed SmartTrack stations will be feasible. Metrolinx and the City will be doing an evaluation and we are mindful of the fact that there could be interchange stations between these two lines.
Q. You showed a map earlier of rapid transit projects planned across the city. How much is being done with the more local routes that would be feeder connections to the new subway line? Those local routes will be a key source of ridership for the new line.
A. It is important to remember that the three projects that we mentioned (the Scarborough Subway Extension, the Relief Line, and SmartTrack) are linked. There are 25 rapid transit projects in the City of Toronto that we are currently assessing. We’ve been asked by Council to prioritize those projects. We will be talking about which projects should come first and which projects offer the most benefit from a network perspective. An important aspect of our planning is to understand how the surface transit network connects to those rapid transit lines. Planning for future rapid transit projects is being integrated into our analysis of the overall future transit network taking places as part of the ongoing Official Plan review.
Q. Who will build and operate the Relief Line? How will it be connected to the TTC subway system and GO rail network?
A. The Relief Line is planned to be part of the TTC network. You would be able to transfer from the Bloor-Danforth Subway to the Relief Line the same way you connect from the Bloor-Danforth Subway to the Yonge Subway today. Part of what Council has asked us to look is the interconnectivity between SmartTrack and the TTC system. We will be assessing fare integration options with Metrolinx and the TTC.
Q. There is uncertainty regarding the future of the eastern portion of the Gardiner Expressway. This informs capacity and where people need to go. How will this be integrated and considered when planning the Relief Line?
A. As we work through the project and test our options we will be looking at the transportation network as a whole. A decision on the Gardiner Expressway East is expected this year and it will help to inform our decisions.
Q. Has the evaluation criteria been finalized?
A. The eight criteria listed in your discussion guide are the umbrella criteria framed as broad categories. As you read through the information provided at the tables you will see how they relate to more specific criteria for this particular study – the more particular criteria are what we are interested in receiving feedback about.
Q. You are asking us to looking forward to 2031 and further. What information can you provide in terms of future employment areas to help us provide meaningful feedback?
A. We need to look at multiple scenarios for population and employment in the future. The best information that we have about the future population and employment densities is available as a resource on your table and we have experts in attendance who can answer specific questions that you have.
Q. How firm is the deadline of March 27th to provide comments?
A. The date we have given for the public comment deadline ensures that comments will be included in the consultation report. However, we want to have an ongoing dialogue with you throughout this project and we invite your comments at any time.
3. Facilitated Discussion
Participants engaged in small group facilitated discussions on the evaluation criteria and potential station areas. A summary of key feedback by participants is provided below:
Participants discussed the proposed evaluation framework and criteria. Overall, there was a diversity of preferences.
- Consider that women make up the majority of riders on the TTC:
- Think about all users of the system and ensuring that all types of trips are accounted for, not just commuting to work (i.e. caregivers, who are primarily female, need to get groceries, travel with strollers, drop children off at daycare, etc.)
- Criteria for ‘Supporting Growth’ seem to focus only on employment and workers; gender considerations should be more explicit.
- Station connections should be accessible. Avoid long transfers between locations and prioritize safety.
- Plan for as many stations as possible between Danforth Avenue and Downtown to serve local communities.
- Continuity of service is very important. Direct connections to existing stations are very important both downtown and on Danforth Avenue.
- Consider impact on existing transit infrastructure and ability to connect to existing routes.
- Ensure cycling connections to future station locations.
- Ensure that each station location serves a node. This would greatly assist with generating ridership.
- Public Health and Environment criteria were identified as less of a priority.
- Avoid disruption to neighbourhoods. Consider issues of vibrations and damage to older homes.
- Ensure station facilities do not degrade property values.
- Ensure heritage buildings are protected.
- Avoid locating station facilities in parkland, which is already limited in the area.
- The route should serve other community services, e.g. education (universities), medical, social services, retail, etc.
- Ensure that businesses are supported; consider business impacts as well as residential impacts as part of the evaluation, including during construction.
- Consider construction impacts to businesses in the vicinity.
- Criteria for ‘Supporting Growth’ appear to focus on ‘employment only’ areas, but mixed-use developments should be encouraged.
- There were divergent opinions on the importance of the affordability criteria. Some felt it was important to not 'cheap out' on the project, build it well the first time around since it will be with us for a long time. Others felt that it was important to keep costs as low as possible.
- Connections need to be established between ridership and affordability.
- Must serve future development opportunities and key destinations.
Potential Station Areas
Participants provided the following feedback regarding potential station areas:
Potential Danforth Connection
- Accommodating a northern extension should be a key consideration for the location of the Danforth Avenue connection.
- There was a preference to connect to an existing station on the Danforth line. Creating direct interchanges is a key priority.
- A connection at Pape Avenue was preferred by many participants. There are opportunities for residential development on Pape Avenue.
- There was interest in a connection at Carlaw Avenue.
- Greenwood Avenue and Coxwell Avenue were discussed as potential station locations as there are a lot of high schools in the area.
- There was concern that a connection at Jones Avenue would cut off the entire Pocket neighbourhood during construction.
Potential Downtown Connections
- Concerns were raised regarding whether Union Station, and other stations, could accommodate the additional capacity of the Relief Line.
- A southern alignment along Wellington Street would be able to serve the Front Street Corridor, Pan Am Village, Unilever site, and new commercial and residential developments.
- Some participants showed interest in the Bay Street/Wellington Street connection as it is close to downtown and would avoid overloading Union Station. On the other hand, some participants showed a preference for a connection on the Yonge or University subway lines to ensure good network connectivity and make transfers easier.
- There was interest in the College or Dundas Station connection as it could serve the universities and other major destinations north of the financial core.
- There was interest in a Queen Street or King Street connection as it could help to relieve congestion on the Queen Street and King Street streetcars.
- Areas such as the Port Lands, Unilever, and East Bayfront could be serviced better with a connection alignment further south.
- Downtown is walkable and the differences between stations are less significant. Logistical issues should carry more weight.
Key Activity Areas
- There was interest in connecting to employment areas, schools, and community centres.
- Gerrard Square at Pape Avenue and Gerrard Street has the potential to be a new hub.
- Serving the growing employment areas along Eastern Avenue and the Unilever site is important.
- There was a preference for at least one stop on Queen Street east of the Don River (Queen/Pape or Queen/Broadview).
- There was concern about a potential station at Queen/Degrassi due to physical constraints – even if the station is underground, there is no space to put aboveground station facilities.
- There was a preference for a Corktown or Riverside area connection, interlinking with the GO transit line.
- Cherry Street and the rail corridor is a key activity area and there are opportunities to connect to SmartTrack.
- A connection at Parliament Street was preferred as there is growth happening in the area.
- When planning the Danforth Avenue and Downtown stations, use data and analysis to determine the stations that will provide as much relief as possible; make evidence-based decisions.
- Consider conducting ‘market research’, such as an online survey that presents people with different travel options and asks them what travel choice they would make (i.e. asking them if they would use the Relief Line in hypothetical scenarios).
- Integrate the Relief Line with SmartTrack while minimizing overlap.
- There is frustration with the length of time it will take for the process.
- Service on surface routes should be improved to provide short term relief.
- Consider impact on surface routes during construction
- Look for opportunities to work with developers to redevelop sites and help finance this initiative.
4. Wrap Up and Next Steps
Before wrapping up the meeting, participants were asked how they would like to be engaged in order to provide meaningful input throughout the study process. Participants indicated that they would like to receive information one week in advance of meetings. There was also preference to receive simplified information in the form of both visuals and accessible text. Stakeholders also suggested that surveys and questionnaires are a good format to distribute to their networks to obtain feedback that can be reported back to the Stakeholder Advisory Group.
The feedback received at the Stakeholder Advisory Group meeting and public consultations will help inform the project team while finalizing the potential station areas and evaluation criteria. In Phase 3, the potential station areas will be evaluated. Stations that perform well will help shape and identify potential corridors that will then be further evaluated in order to identify a preferred corridor.