Meeting #1

Wednesday, September 20, 2017 | 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Toronto Reference Library | 789 Yonge Street

Meeting Summary

Participants

Bruce Budd, Transport Action Canada
Peter Neufeld, FONTRA
Patricia Wood, Code Red TO
Nithya Vijayakumar, Pembina Institute
John Wilson, Toronto Green Community
Turja Chowdhury, Toronto Youth Cabinet

Project Staff

Stella Gustavson, City of Toronto
Mike Logan, City of Toronto
Nish Bala, City of Toronto
James Perttula, City of Toronto
Kurtis Elton, City of Toronto
Laurence Lui, TTC
Brian Gallaugher, Metrolinx
Richard Borbridge, Metrolinx
Manuela Istrate, Metrolinx
Shannon McNeill, Metrolinx
James Francis, Metrolinx

Project Consultants

Jim Faught, LURA
Brendan Agnew-Iler, Argyle
Shirven Rezvany, Argyle

1. Opening Remarks and Overview

Jim Faught welcomed participants to the first City-Wide Stakeholder Advisory Group meeting on this project. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the proposed SmartTrack and GO stations from a city-wide perspective. Stella Gustavson and Shannon McNeill presented an overview of the project and consultation process.

1.1 Questions from Participants

Throughout the overview presentation, participants were encouraged to ask questions and offer comments. A summary of this discussion is provided below. Questions are noted with Q, responses are noted by A, and comments are noted by C. Responses were provided by staff from the City, Metrolinx and TTC.

Q: Which phase of the process are we in?
A: We are consulting on the stations in advance of the formal Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP). We wish to ensure the stations fit well in the context of communities. The role of the city-wide SAG is to offer perspectives on how the proposed changes may impact the whole city, and what opportunities there are to best integrate stations into communities.

Q: Did the map of stations that City Council saw and approved include the two new GO stations on the Barrie line?
A: Yes. The City is working with Metrolinx on the design and elements of all of the new stations in the City of Toronto, but there are different funding arrangements. SmartTrack stations are to be funded by the City, whereas the two new stations along the Barrie line are GO stations which will be funded by Metrolinx. City Council is authorizing advancing the SmartTrack station design and funding based on a stage-gate process.

Q: Will funding be finalized once the Notice of Commencement of the TPAP is made?
A: There are a number of conditions in order to get funding, including Notice of Commencement of the TPAP. City Council’s decision on funding for the new SmartTrack stations is anticipated to occur early next year.

C: The East Harbour planning study and the Relief Line are missing from slide 13.

Q: Why do we have a King-Liberty station and a Spadina-Front station? This seems like it breaks the convention of at least two kilometre distance between stations. Secondly, if I live in Liberty Village and want to use the Barrie line, it appears I have to go to Union first.
A: These stations are on separate lines; the train will not be stopping at both stations. The Spadina‑Front station is on the Barrie line, and the King-Liberty station is on the Kitchener line. Both lines and sites were studied individually, and both are viable for different markets. Additionally, Spadina‑Front station may relieve some of the pressure from passenger volumes at Union Station. Passengers from the west may choose to get off here. The East Harbour station may alleviate some of the pressure from passenger volumes from the east side of Union Station.

Q: Are you suggesting Spadina‑Front station be a terminus, thereby adding travel?
A: Spadina‑Front station is not anticipated to be a terminus. Any new inline stations will add some time to the journey. Electrified trains will help to minimize this, but the actual time impact of Spadina‑Front station has not yet been determined.

Q: Will the Barrie corridor need new track or will the existing track be used?
A:
There is new track being built for the Barrie line, up the west side of the corridor, to be able to accommodate two-way service throughout the day.

Q: Will there be pick-up and drop-off spaces?
A:
This element is not being designed into the stations by default. As urban rail stations, these stations will focus on pedestrian, cycling and transit access. We are including some space for this element at the Lawrence-Kennedy station as the conditions merit it. All stations will include space for drop-off and pick-up by accessible transit vehicles.

Q: Is there any plan to connect the Relief Line with any of the western SmartTrack Stations?
A:
Potential for a western extension of the Relief Line has been identified; however, this has not yet been studied.

Q: Is the TTC going to look at changing its bus route structure to serve these stations?
A:
The TTC is primarily focused on reinforcing connectivity with the existing routes. The TTC is working with the City to find out what changes are needed in each location context, to ensure sufficient service, customer comfort, and so on.

2. Questions for Each Proposed Station

Each of the eight proposed stations were presented, noting the unique considerations in each community. Participants were invited to ask questions and offer comments.

St. Clair-Old Weston Station

Q: Can this station be closer to St. Clair Avenue?
A: Track geometry limits the location of the platform. The location as illustrated is as far south as possible given local constraints. The slope into the adjacent rail-rail grade separation precludes a major shift of the platform south. The bridges and the retaining walls constrain the angle that tracks can diverge in order to add a platform between them.

Q: What is the transfer walking distance to the streetcar stop?
A: Locating the streetcar stop under the bridge does not work. Surface transit stops are at Old Weston Road and Weston Road. Through the design process, we will be working on making the most comfortable and seamless transfers possible.

Q: The City has started to implement a wayfinding strategy. Can this strategy be integrated with the new stations? For example, there have been challenges navigating from the subway to the UP Express.
A:
Wayfinding is part of the station and will be integrated with its design. There are regional and City wayfinding projects in progress that will overlap and integrate.

Q: Are there any plans to connect the West Toronto Railpath to this station?
A:
We are working on integrating the West Toronto Railpath at several new station locations.

King-Liberty Station

Q: From the northern station entrance to the platform, are we going over or under the existing tracks?
A:
We are currently planning to go underneath. This will provide easier access to King Street, which is below the grade of the existing tracks at this location.

East Harbour Station

Q: The planned extension of Broadview Avenue goes down to the Portlands. What are the implications for streetcar service in the area?
A:
We would have to look at our capacity and needs, and potentially re-consider some streetcar routes. We may need new infrastructure for streetcars, new loops, and so on.

Q: Regarding the 50,000 new jobs planned for this district, what kind of jobs are these? Where will these employees be living? This has bearing on where trains servicing this area go – will they be going to the suburbs?
A:
First Gulf (the property developer) sees their market for attracting employees to be Toronto and its suburbs. For this site to work for the developer and for employees, it needs a lot of transit connections and options.

Gerrard-Carlaw Station

Q: How far apart are the Gerrard-Carlaw and East Harbour Stations?
A:
About 2 kilometres.

C: Two kilometres is too close for a regional GO line. This line comes in from Stouffville, but the proximity of stops once it enters Toronto makes it appear like a local line. When you put these local stops on a regional line, you defeat the purpose of the regional line by adding trip time.
A:
There is a delicate balance at play. With the initiation of SmartTrack, Regional Express Rail (RER), and other initiatives, the intention is to make the GO lines more a part of the City’s rapid transit network. Metrolinx is still working on the service concept for RER. There are a number of outstanding questions (e.g., where the express lines are, which trains and which times will make the local stops, which trains will be strictly regional). The intention in identifying new stations was to pick the stations that were the highest performing to best balance the impact on travel time. Metrolinx is also expanding frequency for people going to and from Stouffville. Access will greatly improved overall.

Q: Station configuration: it looks like the SmartTrack lines will be in the centre of the four lines serving the station, with Lakeshore lines on the extremities. But if you look at the East Harbour line, the SmartTrack lines are in the middle two lines. Will the trains cross over?
A: Metrolinx is still working on the service concept, including which trains will run on which tracks.

Q: When you have Stouffville running down on the north track, going into Lakeshore, it seems you would like to keep the SmartTrack lines on the outer tracks.
A:
We are still determining how to optimize train movement patterns.

Q: Are there five tracks now?
A:
At the Gerrard-Carlaw Station there are currently three tracks, with plans for a fourth. Further along the corridor at the East Harbour Station, there are currently four tracks. The need for a fifth in this area is being evaluated.

C: There are established neighbourhoods in this area. Changes to surrounding land use to accommodate additional rail infrastructure should be considered.
A:
We are developing an approach for station area planning, including which stations should be considered highest priority. For this station, a precinct planning exercise over the next few years is being considered.

Lawrence-Kennedy Station

Q: Will the Scarborough RT (TTC Line 3) remain in place?
A:
The SRT will be in operation for another few years, until the Scarborough Subway Extension is operational.

Q: Will the SRT operation affect construction?
A:
The new SmartTrack station itself will be next to the SRT. Additional work on construction phasing is planned.

Finch-Kennedy Station

Q: Are we raising the track to accommodate the Finch Avenue underpass? When does the underpass work start?
A:
We are not raising the track, and the underpass will be studied as part of the TPAP. Construction work is planned as part of the Alternative Financing and Procurement (AFP) process for the new station. A new grade separation (i.e., separating Finch Avenue and the Stouffville rail corridor) is being done in conjunction with the station.

Q: North entrance, southbound side. Is there an existing entrance? It seems like there is no street there.
A:
There is no street. Part of this station concept is to plan out where these local streets need to be and what they need to look like. There is more work to be done on the impact of this on the surrounding buildings. Property requirements will be considered as design work and the TPAP proceed.

Q: The local street entrance indicated to the northeast- is this the barrier free entrance?
A:
All entrances will be fully accessible.

Bloor-Lansdowne Station

Q: What is the distance from the SmartTrack Station to the Lansdowne TTC station?
A:
About 200 metres, which represents an approximately two-minute long walk. Making this connection is one of the challenges for this station.

Q: Are there any plans for a connection between the SmartTrack and TTC stations? Or will riders transfer outside on the sidewalk?
A:
It is important, from a city planning perspective, to have a seamless connection. We are exploring this in the station design work and the EA. We will have additional information on this during the next round of consultation. A connection between the stations may be dependent on future development to the northeast of the SmartTrack station.

Q: Does the track grade start increasing north of Bloor? Is that why you can’t run the station further north of Bloor? And is there no possibility of changing that grade?
Q:
Yes the track grade starts increasing immediately north of Bloor. The grade cannot be changed because it would affect the Davenport Diamond grade separation.

C: But CP and CN – major freight lines – like a 1% grade. If this was originally a freight line, it seems to me that electrified vehicles can handle the track grade north of Bloor. You may be able to shift the station north of Bloor and create a more ideal connection.
A:
In shifting the platform up, we would be changing the grade further up the track.

Q: Do the Bloor GO Station (serving the UP Express) and this station have competing markets?
A:
They are complementary stations. One is on the Kitchener Line, and one is on Barrie Line. There may be overlap in communities served, but there is enough incoming ridership that will be different. The next southern stop for the Kitchener Line will be King-Liberty, and for the Barrie Line it will be Spadina-Front.

Q: If I want to go from the Barrie line northwest on the Kitchener line can I transfer here?
A:
You would have to walk to the Bloor GO Station (near Dundas West subway station) to make the connection. There are plans for stations on the Barrie line to connect with the Eglinton Crosstown (Caledonia GO Station), and Line 1 Extension at Downsview Park (Downsview Park GO Station) for further east-west connections.

C: Though it is not a long walk between Lansdowne and Dundas West TTC stationc, the walk is unpleasant. Pedestrians have to walk under a rail overpass, and up and down grades.
A:
A new underground path is contemplated between Dundas West TTC station and the Bloor GO station that will increase options for a portion of this distance.

C: Please contemplate renaming the Bloor GO station to a name that more clearly identifies the station location.

Spadina-Front Station

Q: Is there a third entrance on the extreme western end?
A:
That is an existing bridge that would be removed when the Rail Deck Park is built. We are working to have pedestrian access from this bridge if the station is built before the park.

Q: Would this station align with the Rail Deck Park? It seems like the station will be built much more quickly than the park. It would be undesirable if the station construction is delayed because of Rail Deck Park.
A:
The station location design will be able to accommodate various access and development scenarios including Rail Deck Park. The City is planning to integrate the design, and coordinate the timing of Rail Deck Park and Spadina-Front Station as closely as possible.

Q: Was there feedback that there should be a station at Spadina rather than Bathurst?
A:
There is more of a technical requirement. On the Spadina side is where you can fit a platform, whereas this is not possible at Bathurst. There are also track and grade separation issues.

Q: Has this station passed the 30% design stage?
A:
No. We are at an early stage in the planning process. All the stations are on a similar trajectory and timeline for planning and design.

C: When you follow track on each side of the GO station – they seem to merge after Spadina.
A:
That is the Barrie extension, which will be added. This would replace one of the storage tracks. Detailed track configuration will be considered along with station design.

3. Open Discussion

Q: What are the ridership numbers for these eight stations?
A:
Ridership numbers were projected in the Initial Business Cases, and updated in the GO Rail Station Access Plan, which are accessible online.

Q: These Business Cases were for more stations. Would the reduction in stations affect the numbers?
A:
No, each station was looked at independently compared to the existing network.

C: We should put ridership numbers out in the public meetings.

Q: What about fare structure?
A:
The Business Cases were agnostic on fare structure.

C: In the Business Cases, the ridership numbers do drop with a fare increase.
A:
As a determinant of ridership, fare does have an impact. Having an integrated fare structure is still under discussion.

C: The fare system on GO was designed to be punitive for shorter distances. It is more expensive, on a per kilometre basis, to travel shorter distances.

C: The City is considering developing a low income concession fare, but there doesn’t seem to be one for GO.
A:
The Metrolinx Board is holding a fare integration update meeting in December 2017. The fare discussion is critical for the new SmartTrack and GO stations. Concession fares are planned to be considered as part of the broader fare integration discussion.

4. Facilitated Discussion

Questions were posed to the group for consideration.

What issues or challenges may be encountered with the introduction of the new stations?

C: One challenge could be overlap and redundancy with other city transit projects that are currently underway, such as the Scarborough Subway and the Relief Line. There could be overlapping markets and transit coverage.
A: Toronto’s transit infrastructure is many years behind. Simply put, we need all of this transit. As we work on all of these projects together, we can coordinate analysis and delivery, including whether or not there are market overlaps.

C: Increased traffic to Union Station will be a challenge, even with the Relief Line not connecting with it. With SmartTrack, there will be capacity issues.
A:
Pedestrian and passenger numbers, the number of trains in the corridor – there are a number of challenges to be considered. Metrolinx is still working on the service concept for RER.

C: Construction is disruptive and will pose challenges for all these stations. A construction liaison committee could help ease the process, and become a communications channel and point of contact for residents.
A:
As part of the EA we will be considering the construction process, including potential impacts. Establishing a construction liaison committee is a great suggestion.

How can the new stations best be integrated into existing communities?

C: Build in wayfinding.

C: The general design of the stations is important. Station design should reflect the character of the neighbourhood. We are a city of neighbourhoods.

C: If there is development potential in the immediate area, couldn’t there be cost-sharing relationship with developers? Other cities do this.
A: A cost-sharing arrangement is currently under discussion for the East Harbour Station. We are studying opportunities around the other stations as well.

5. Wrap up and Next Steps

Participants were informed of the other ways to give feedback – including dedicated email addresses and project websites. Participants were encouraged to take the information presented back to their groups.

Three public meetings will be held – all meetings run from 6:30-8:30 pm, with a presentation at 7:00 pm:

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10, Scarborough Civic Centre, 150 Borough Drive

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 11, Riverdale Collegiate Institute, 1094 Gerrard Street East

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 12, Bloor Street Collegiate Institute, 1141 Bloor Street West

The next round of public and stakeholder consultation will be held early next year. Refined station designs and status of the environmental studies will be discussed at that time.