Toronto Transit Consultation Meeting

March 1, 2017

Highlights Report

 

This report has been prepared to provide a snapshot of the feedback captured at the open house held on March 1, 2017.

 

 

Introduction

On March 1, 2017, City Planning and TTC staff hosted an open house to answer questions regarding the staff report that was submitted to the Executive Committee detailing the recommended alignment for the subway extension on the Bloor-Danforth Line express to Scarborough Centre. The meeting was held at the Scarborough Civic Centre, located at 150 Borough Drive.

 

A presentation was delivered by James Perttula (Acting Director, Transit and Sustainable Transportation, City of Toronto) and Mike Logan (Acting Program Manager, Transit Implementation Unit, City of Toronto) highlighting the staff report recommendations, the recommended subway alignment and station location, the recommended bus terminal concept, and updates on procurement and capital cost estimates.    Following the presentation, participants had the opportunity to ask questions of clarification.

 

Approximately 45 individuals attended the open house, including Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker (Ward 38), and staff from Councillor Chin Lee's office (Ward 42).

 

Highlights of Participant Feedback

 

Questions of Clarification

 

The discussion captured during the question and answer is summarized below. Questions are noted with a “Q”, comments with “C” and answers with “A.” Answers were provided by James Perttula (Acting Director, Transit and Sustainable Transportation, City of Toronto) and Mike Logan (Acting Program Manager, Transit Implementation Unit, City of Toronto), unless noted otherwise.

 

 

Q: The recommended station location seems too far east, which could become problematic for people with accessibility issues. Will there be a walkway from the new station to the Scarborough Town Centre?

A: The station, exits, walkways etc., will all meet the standards outlined in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). The station will be connected to the bus terminal and the subway, which will allow users to access the mall. There will also be exits to the street level, one which allows access to the east side of the mall, which is near the theater.

 

Q: Will the bus terminal accommodate bays for GO and Durham Region Transit? Will there be parking? What provisions are being made to allow for Don Mills station to be connected with this station in the future?

A: Other transit providers such as GO and Durham Region's transit will have dedicated bays in the bus terminal. The City is working with the Toronto Parking Authority to identify parking opportunities in the Centre.  However, the vision for Scarborough Centre is not to drastically increase parking. Like most downtowns, the vision for Scarborough Centre is to transform it into a vibrant urban node that is not dominated by vehicles and parking. An extension of the Scarborough Subway to Sheppard Ave. has not been included in this study. However, a connection to Sheppard Avenue is possible in the future.

 

Q: What is the scope of the work happening at the Esso gas station at McCowan Road and Ellesmere Road?

A: Part of the SSE tunnel will run under the Esso gas station, and their gas tanks are proposed to be located above the tunnel. However, there is a possibility for the relocation of the gas tanks.

C: I am having trouble understanding how the tanks under the Esso gas station will be relocated without affecting other buildings on the property. As this development is newer, 10 to 15 years old, it would be redundant to redo the work that has already been done.

 

Q: It was stated by the Mayor that there would be $150 million saving in construction by choosing this alignment?

A: We are exploring ways to refine the bus terminal concept to minimize property impacts and reduce cost. There have been value engineering exercises to help identify ways to reduce cost. However, more work needs to be done to find opportunities for more cost savings – as this is always a priority.

 

Q: Will homes on the South West Corner of McCowan Road and Ellesmere Road be expropriated?

A: There will be further meetings with the owners to talk about impacts, noise, and vibrations from the subway.

 

Q: Based on the current cost estimate for the SSE, at $3.3 billion, with a chance of an increase by 50%, why is this option being chosen as there seems to be no benefit? Why can the city not just put the subway on existing infrastructure so that this project can be done earlier? The LRT would handle more people anyways.

A:  The SSE is a piece of the network that also includes planned SmartTrack Stations, Lawrence and Finch. The options for reusing the SRT corridor would result in the closure of the SRT throughout the duration of construction, which was treated as a fatal flaw in the evaluation of alignments.

 

Q: Are there any other transit plans for Scarborough?

A: Projects that are in the planning stage include the future extension of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, from Kennedy to the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus, which would bring enhanced transit service to the eastern Scarborough, and SmartTrack, which would see the addition of two stations on the Stouffville Corridor.

 

Q: What are the timelines for the SSE? How long will the Environmental Assessment and construction take and is there a deadline?

Transit projects condense their Environmental Assessment timelines to 6 months as part of a Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP). As it relates to the SSE, if Council adopts staff's recommendations on March 28, we can begin the TPAP work in Q2 2017. The design timeline is estimated to be about 3 years and construction could commence in 2020, with the subway operational in Q2 2026.

 

Q: For the Eglinton East LRT, will there be a meeting for that line similar to this public meeting?

A: Council has approved $7 million to do more planning and technical work to examine the Eglinton East LRT. Public consultations are planned for 2017.

 

Q: What is the estimated timeline for the Eglinton East LRT and SmartTrack?

A: SmartTrack's estimated completion date is sometime in 2025. A funding commitment for the Eglinton East LRT has to be in place before the construction timeline can be confirmed. As everything will be converging at Kennedy, the project becomes complex.

Q: If the cost of the SSE grows, will this affect other LRT projects?

A: As we advance detail design to 30%, the cost uncertainty will become clearer.

C: (Councillor De Baeremaeker) The political reply to this question is that Scarborough needs the SSE, as they have not gotten their fair share of transit in comparison to other regions. Scarborough officials will find a way to fight for it and secure funding.

 

Q: Why is there no transit investment in neighbourhood improvement areas (NIA)?

A: The SSE project will see Line 2 extended into Scarborough, where 70% of the existing ridership boards/alights. We are building this station because it is needed. The planned Eglinton East LRT, also part of the netowkr, will serve 5 NIAs).

 

Q: Why was the SSE not compared to expanding light rail transit throughout Scarborough?

A: In 2013, the decision to build a subway was made by Council, and staff is following Council's direction.

 

C: In this, there are many areas left out, and broader connectivity is needed. The area should not be stuck with one mode, there has to be a connection to the RER, SmartTrack, Subway.

A: We are working with Metrolinx and the regional transportation plan; Big move, and looking into BRT to/from Scarborough to Durham. Planning has begun on that.

 

Q: Is there an attempt to develop priorities for all transit projects?

A: There is something called the Initial Business Case, where cost-benefit (monetized) studies are undertaken. All the projects under consideration are evaluated, then compared through a cost-benefit analysis. The evaluation considers a wide range of streams, including strategic, economic, financial and deliverability. In the context of rapid transit evaluations, the impact to the environment and cost is included in this. It references how building a particular transit line will then support the City's general prosperity, which is a factor considered.

 

In 2018, City Planning will be proposing a prioritized list of transit projects as part of the update of Toronto's Official Plan transportation policies.

 

Q: Can the IBC be offered online?

A: The update to the original IBC is available online with the March 2017 staff report – Appendix 1. The original IBC was submitted to City Council in July 2015, is available online as well.

 

Q: Will the SRT run throughout the SSE construction.

A: Yes.

 

Q: The Alternative Plan (Big Bend), in comparison to the one being proposed tonight, was proposed by my neighbour, why did it not go through?

A: The "big bend" alignment would have its station in the vicinity of the existing Scarborough Centre Station, which would result in the closure of the SRT throughout the duration of construction. This alignment would also impact more properties and have a higher capital cost than the recommended McCowan alignment.

 

Q: What are the costs for extending the current station in Scarborough to Sheppard?

A: Was not part of the scope of this project.

 

Q: As bus traffic and everything else will be directed to this station, will already congested routes be further affected?

A: Traffic congestion and management is important as the Scarborough Centre Transportation Master Plan is currently underway, which will address how streets function and identify opportunities to create more east-west and north-south roadway connections. The Transportation Master Plan will look at all modes to ensure that the station being built is accessible, how this will route into the Centre and create a permeable network for all road users.

 

Q: What are the walkability boundaries?

A: 500-800 metres is a typical assumption about how far people are willing to walk to a transit station.

 

Q: What else is being done to engage the community?

A: Website and other transit meetings, email list and City of Toronto online pages have further information. Additionally there is a meeting with affected property owners. In the TPAP process there are requirements for Public Consultation, and we have met with area residents and councillors. You are also welcome to speak with your councillor.

 

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