Tuesday, May 8, 2018 | 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Morse St. Public School – Library |180 Carlaw Street
Elected Officials and Staff
Councillor Paula Fletcher
Stella Gustavson, City of Toronto
Kelly Jones, City of Toronto
Kyle Knoeck, City of Toronto
Jade Hoskins, City of Toronto
Setareh Fadaee, City of Toronto
Jim Faught, LURA Consulting
Ryan Adamson, LURA Consulting
1. Agenda Review, Opening Remarks and Introductions
Jim Faught, Lura Consulting, welcomed participants to the supplementary Gerrard-Carlaw SmartTrack Stakeholder Advisory Committee meeting, provided an overview of the meeting agenda and facilitated a round of introductions. The purpose of the meeting was to introduce the draft terms of reference for a planning study to achieve transit supportive development in relation to the proposed Gerrard-Carlaw SmartTrack/Relief Line interchange Station. The meeting provided the opportunity for SAG members to ask questions of City Planning staff, discuss the proposed study with other community leaders and provide valuable community feedback to staff.
Stella Gustavson, Program Manager, Transportation Planning, City of Toronto, provided an overview of the conceptual design for the Gerrard-Carlaw SmartTrack Station and its integration with the proposed Relief Line Station.
Kelly Jones, Senior Planner, City of Toronto, provided an overview of the draft terms of reference for the proposed planning study. She noted that three study areas have been identified. A core study will be conducted for the large parcels of land on the North side of Gerrard Street, which include Riverdale Plaza and Gerrard Square. An avenue study will be conducted for the land fronting Gerrard Street between Carlaw Avenue and Broadview Avenue. Lastly a community services and facilities strategy will be developed for a 1000 metre radius surrounding the corner of Gerrard Street and Broadview Avenue. She proceeded with a review of the three study areas, the planning framework that will guide the planning studies, the scope of work, community engagement and final deliverables. Feedback was requested, specifically in regards to the proposed study areas.
Participants had the opportunity to ask questions of clarification as well as provide feedback through a plenary discussion.
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 Stella Gustavson (Program Manager, Transportation Planning, City of Toronto), Kelly Jones (Senior Planner, Community Planning, City of Toronto), and Kyle Knoeck (Manager, Community Planning, City of Toronto).
Questions of Clarification on current street configuration:
Q. In regards to the Pape Avenue pedestrian crossing, I remember when that was just a road crossing. The community wanted an underpass of some kind, but a bridge was put in. Is there the potential for a pedestrian and cyclist tunnel?There is the potential for a well-lit, safe tunnel. It is in the early stages of design. We recognize the importance of maintaining access in this area.
Q. Based on your comments, the plan is to tunnel?
A. Originally, Metrolinx had identified that the pedestrian bridge would need to be removed for technical reasons. They have since backed away from that idea. The City is still pursuing it, but Metrolinx improvements and electrification may not require it. Our idea is that the bridge would come down.
Q. Would the tunnel permit cars as well or is it just for bikes and pedestrians? Is this something that can be discussed?
A. Through the station design work, people were not in favour of it being used for cars. The station design work is to replace the pedestrian and bike route with something better.
Q. What is happening at street-level in terms of cycling infrastructure?
A. We are hoping for something beyond the bare minimum. We want ample bike parking and access. The point is that this is not a drive-up station. There will be access by foot and by bike and through transfer from other transit routes. The station itself will not include the provision of new cycling routes on the street, but future planning work will explore the addition of cycling infrastructure.
Questions of Clarification on land use:
Q. Was the developer of The Carlaw required to replace employment?
A. Dundas and Carlaw is somewhat unusual as an employment area. Two Site and Area Specific Policies apply to the site that allow for residential development to occur as long as employment is replaced. Most employment lands in the City do not allow this. Dundas and Carlaw is unique because of this and there has been a lot of intensification there. We want to keep the smaller employment that currently exists there. There are a lot of niche employment opportunities in that area such as metal workers.
Questions of Clarification on Heritage:
Q. With regard to heritage – what do you mean by the term “built form heritage resources?”
A. That term refers to the actual buildings. This will include any buildings the heritage department says it wants to conserve. It works two ways – enlisted and designation. With Carlaw Dundas we had a consultant do a heritage analysis.
Q. Will the study area go up to Dundas Street and down to Queen Street?
A. We’re proposing three study areas. The first is the core area around the proposed station at Gerrard and Carlaw east to Jones. The second is a standard avenue study that extends along Gerrard from Carlaw west to Broadview. We also have a community services and facilities (1000sq metres) services to meet demand.
Q. To what degree are we discussing heritage in relation to Gerrard Square? Would that be looking back into the history books?
A. We anticipate that heritage would apply primarily to the avenue study, however this is to be confirmed by the work that Heritage Preservation Services undertakes.
Questions of Clarification on Study Area and Development:
Q. There are many edges of the proposed study areas where low-rise residential neighbourhoods exist. Will the study look to provide proper transitions to the neighbouring residential neighbourhoods or is the focus solely within the boundary?
A. We are aware of what happens within the study area will have impact on surrounding neighbourhoods and parks. We will look at identifying how development may affect the surrounding neighbourhood. The City’s Official Plan has strong policy on transitioning from intense development to low-rise areas. We would expect the full consideration of transition and articulation within the specific context of transitions to adjacent neighbourhoods. This will inform the design guidelines that are developed. Previously we have had planning studies that included neighbouring low-scale neighbourhoods within the study area to study potential impacts. However, developers used this as a strategy to argue that these low-rise areas could be intensified.
Q. You’re expecting that intensification will occur just on Gerrard Avenue?
A. Yes, we would expect a certain level of intensification.
Q. With regard to intensification, does that means increased heights along Gerrard Avenue?
A. Yes. How it would occur from a development perspective would be on a site by site basis. For example, with the development proposed at the site of the Beer Store at 794 Gerrard Street, they felt they could meet the policy and design objectives and we evaluated the proposal accordingly. The general rule is that the maximum height of a development along a street should not exceed the Right of way width of the street. This is referred to as a one to one ratio. For Gerrard, the width of the street is twenty metres, so we would not support buildings above that height. Following the one to one ratio doesn’t automatically give a developer permission to build. Proposals will still go through our review and will need to satisfy a number of development standards and our requirements for parking, loading and so forth.
Q. There are a wide range of stores and businesses in Gerrard Square and Riverdale Mall that are essential to the community. If the stores are removed, people will get into their cars. Is there a way to account for the range of businesses that are needed to service the community? Is there a framework to define those?
A. We understand that this is important. Gerrard Square is very busy and there are stores that serve a vital purpose to the community. The Terms of Reference will specify looking at a range of retail uses. We can encourage bigger retail sites in the area because we know they are well used.
C. Affordability is a big issue. The stores and services in Gerrard Square and Riverdale Plaza service a lower income bracket. The cost of services needs to be addressed, not just housing.
A. Yes, we recognize the importance of this.
C. With the intensification at Gerrard Square I think it needs to be very clear in the terms of reference that there is a separation between this core area and avenue study area to the east.
A. Yes, that is a good observation. We do have delineated study areas; these two areas will have a different approach. Currently, they are both shaded in red to indicate that they are both zoned for mixed use. We will be sure to note more clearly that these two sites will be developed separately.
A. I want to add another layer for consideration. When you think about transit-oriented development, a radius of 250 metres is considered to be the best location in terms of building ridership. As you get further away, the potential for ridership drops off. When we talk about our focus on matching our investment through the attraction of riders this 250 metre radius is the most important.
Q. Is the intention to turn the area into a transit hub? For example, would you be linking surface transit routes to this station?
A. There are already surface routes that service the area. The Relief Line and SmartTrack will also work to reduce congestion on some of these surface transit routes. We will need to look at future options, but currently there are no plans for a bus terminal.
Q. Is there a bus loop planned for Gerrard and Carlaw?
A. The TTC has mentioned it, but City planning is not currently in favour of a bus loop. It may be contemplated, but we do not currently see this as a good use of land within proximity of the transit station.
Q. The potential for this area to become a major transit hub needs to be included in the terms of reference.
A. For now, we are looking into the possibility of a bus laybys on Carlaw. Allowing transit vehicles to stop and pick up riders is obviously important for all stations.
Q. The Dundas Carlaw study has been done already and that interfaces with the core boundary at Gerrard and Carlaw itself. Will there be any interface between the two studies or will they be looked at separately?
A. We will go back to determine the relationship between the two studies. Dundas and Carlaw is a special area. The built form analysis there might not be a good baseline for the Gerrard and Carlaw area. In terms of including it as part of the study area, we have gone back and forth on that and we’ve decided to leave it out for now. The Dundas Carlaw area is unique because of its employment lands. It is a very different fabric than the core area.
A. Dundas Carlaw is also fairly well established from a built form context. There is a fairly consistent pattern of new development in terms of the shape and scale of buildings. It is reflective of the industrial heritage of the area. The pattern and scale are consistent, yet not inscribed in policy. The City has a lot of experience in how to deal with that area. There is a little less pressure from the City planning perspective for that area. However, when thinking about development in the area of Gerrard Square and Riverdale Plaza there is a lot that we will need to figure out. Having said that, Dundas Carlaw can be used as a reference point.
C. The Gerrard Square and Riverdale Plaza area different than Dundas Carlaw and also different from Gerrard Avenue. There are very few owners within that core area. However, there are multiple owners along Gerrard. It may make sense to break off that section from Galt Avenue to Jones Avenue.
A. Yes, we recognize the difference between development in the core study area versus the avenue study on Gerrard Avenue. Based on your opinions, we would be interested in knowing if there would be value in putting those two avenue pieces together.
C. Galt to Jones is very commercial. The western portion of Gerrard from Degrassi towards the west is similar in usage, but Degrassi to Logan is all residential. That piece of Gerrard by Jones is very similar to Broadview. It would make sense to have the avenue study go from Jones to Galt and from Carlaw to Broadview.
Q. Are the core study and the avenue study part of the same deliverables or separate?
A. The focus will be on the core area first, which will be followed soon after by the avenue study. The core area will provide valuable information fand will inform the avenue study.
C. My thought would be to leave Galt Avenue to help assist with the avenue study.
Q. Why have the core area? I’m trying to determine the rationale. What is the consideration for the south side of Gerrard? The first part of this question doesn’t make sense to me. Please double check.
A. Our rationale is that green areas to the south side are part of the key public realm for the area.
C. We need to understand that density will occur at Gerrard Square in a way that is different than what will occur along the rest of Gerrard Avenue. My idea was to set up an area where we would be saying, yes, this is where densification will work well in relationship with the neighbourhood. In terms of the Real Jerk area, should that be a part of the area designated for greater density? This may help with transitioning into a lower-rise area.
C. In my opinion is that west of Carlaw, Real Jerk, the fire station and the beer store can be rezoned to six storeys. That is acceptable. Further west would not be acceptable. Gerrard Square and Riverdale Plaza are the core, the rest is part of the avenue.
Q. Is the thought here that we need development because of the SmartTrack station or is it that the owner of Gerrard Square is likely to sell the land to a developer?
A. We want to encourage transit-supportive development, but we also want to get ahead of development. It is much easier to deal with a developer when you have a framework for them to step into.
A. The Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe provides planning directions around major transit stations. The idea is that development should achieve about two hundred people and jobs per hectare. The Provincial Policy Statement expects municipalities to intensify around transit stations. Part of this exercise is figuring out what that means rather than development applicants determining that for us.
C. At a previous meeting we heard that there may need to be incursions onto the No Frills site due to the necessity of construction feasibility.
A. For the purpose of SmartTrack, which is expected to come sooner than the Relief Line, we are working to minimize property impacts. We don’t want to suggest widening Carlaw and are working to keep businesses operating. We know in our conversations with Gerrard Square that they have long term leases. We are not trying to pressure anyone into doing anything. For the Relief Line, one thing that was identified has the procurement of properties and the impact to properties for staging.
C. Carlaw has become a lot busier since the Gardiner was taken down. It is one of the worst streets for bike riding as there is not enough room and the road is in terrible condition.
A. The avenue study will identify improvements in the area such as identifying opportunities for active transportation.
C. Carlaw isn’t wide enough. Pape isn’t wide enough either to support bike lanes.
C. Logan could have a bike lane that goes south from Danforth to Gerrard.
A. Part of the consultation process would be to look more closely into opportunities for this type of infrastructure.
Q. Are you thinking of a new street through the Gerrard Square site?
A. We haven’t come that far yet, but that may be something we look into. In doing that we would look at the best way to configure a potential new road.
C. We may need to make assumptions about what services and facilities will be needed based on the type of development we expect to see on Gerrard.
C. Riverdale High School is already full and it is also a closed school.
A. That will be part of the community services and facilities study.
Q. Is the City leaning towards employment areas as part of the study?
A. Not necessarilybut we want to encourage jobs and employment.
Q. Would the City consider a tower with a community centre or a school in it?
A. We would be open to intergrated facilities within the development.
Q. Will the south side of Gerrard in the core study area be added to the avenue study area?
A. We will take that feedback and include it in our thinking.
Q. In terms of transition to surrounding neighbourhoods and traffic infiltration, how does that fit into the picture?
A. We would have to pull in our transit people as resources on that issue.
Q. Is a traffic study typically done for this type of planning study?
A. We have talked about a traffic study internally. For studies that I have worked on it has not been a separate piece, but we are open to it.
Q. What do you expect to happen if high rises are developed on these core sites with proximity to low density buildings in terms of traffic infiltration?
A. We understand that local residents will be concerned about traffic and traffic flow. It will be important for us to look at.
A. It’s important to recognize that the impetus for this project is investment in transit. We are looking to encourage modes of transit other than the car. There are two lenses to look at this. One is the fine grain traffic management in terms of flow and then there is streets and placemaking. We want to design streets that are good places to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians. A third lens is the opportunity for additional streets or connections to give access to future development, but that may also affect traffic flow. All of this is fair game during consultation and we will be working on this throughout the process.
A. There is a notion that this is a transit node. The idea is to create ridership and reduce reliance on the automobile. We don’t want to encourage a whole lot of parking. How you deal with that is through built form, development, and rules and regulations.
A. In terms of traffic flow we will be looking at that through the streets and blocks plan. There are traffic management studies that happen all the time as well. We want to encourage transit use, obviously. We haven’t put to much thought into this issue at this point, but we will need to continue to talk about it.
C. I think we need a vision. Everyone talks about the importance of the commercial element, but what will happen to commercial spaces here? It is difficult to marry commercial and residential development. What should that look like here? What is our vision and how do we get there? For example, having a grocery store in the main floor of a building and residential uses above it. What about something radical like a no car zone? We also need to think about affordability and mixed residential types. What number of units would be needed to meet our requirements? We should kick off the study with a vision, a bigger picture. What is the community’s goal?
C. We should add precedent studies. Provide examples of the types of developments that are exemplary.
C. We need to be clear on a vision that meets the expectations of the growth plan.
C. Metrolinx said that there is no real precedent for managing affordability within the transit node concept. There is no framework for avoiding displacement or inclusionary zoning. We should be working towards a vision here where the community is not displaced. We should be building around the community, not the other way around.
A. A visioning exercise is something we can look into.
Q. Would a visioning exercise occur through consultations or internally?
A. It is possible that we could take a stab at it and then bring it to the community for refinements.
A. We have done vision statements with planning studies. The difference here is that it may be challenging to create a vision statement for two big sites. They are less often site-specific, but it could be an interesting exercise to set the right tone and to identify the community’s objectives and priorities.
Q. Would the vision statement think about the core area and avenue area separately or together?
A. I would imagine it would be as one element.
Q. This is quite a big chunk of land for the city. To what extent could our vision be executed like the Pan Am Lands for example?
A. This would be part of the City’s vision for a complete community.
C. The community thinks of this site as a place to go. It is a destination. This important destination factor needs to be part of the vision. I think it will be important to have retail at grade with residential uses above. Either way, it needs to be maintained as a destination and the conversation about the vision should include this piece.
A. There is one key difference between this site and the Pan Am site that I want to note. Ownership. We have private owners here whereas the Pan Am Lands were publicly owned. The public sector drove that process with all 3 levels of government working together. It doesn’t mean that we can’t think of a vision, but it would need to be in collaboration with the land owners, unless these lands end up being acquired for the transit station.
Q. To what extent does the City have to expropriate?
A. If property is determined to be needed for transit purposes acquisition would be negotiated with the property owner.
C. Childcare needs to be considered.
A. That will be part of the community services and facilities study.
3. Wrap up and next steps
Councillor Fletcher, Kelly Jones, Jim Faught and Stella Gustavson thanked participants for their input and time. The planning study will commence in the near future.