Wednesday, January 24, 2018 | 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Morse Street Junior Public School | 180 Carlaw Ave
Ravi Joshi, The Carlaw, TSSC 2493
Valerie Mah, Chinese Chamber of Commerce (East Toronto)
Susan McMurray, Eastview Neighbourhood Community Centre
Samantha Spence, South Paper Resident’s Association
Elected Officials and Staff
Councillor Paula Fletcher
Stella Gustavson, City of Toronto
Jade Hoskins, City of Toronto
Greg Tokarz, City of Toronto
Kyle Knoeck, City of Toronto
Kelly Jones, City of Toronto
Shannon McNeill, Metrolinx
Manuela Istrate, Metrolinx
Ryan Chan, Metrolinx
Gregory Pereira, Metrolinx
Scott Haskill, TTC
Jim Faught, LURA Consulting
Shirven Rezvany, Argyle
1. Opening Remarks and Overview
Jim Faught and Susan Serran, executive assistant to Councillor Fletcher, welcomed participants to the first Gerrard-Carlaw Stakeholder Advisory Group meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the proposed Gerrard-Carlaw SmartTrack station. Stella Gustavson and Shannon McNeill presented an overview of the project and consultation process.
1.1 Questions of Clarification
Throughout the overview presentation, participants were encouraged to ask questions and offer comments. A summary of the questions of clarification and the answers provided is presented below. Questions are noted with Q, responses are noted with A, and comments are noted with C. Responses were provided by staff from the City, Metrolinx and TTC.
Q. Will the SmartTrack service be operated by the TTC, Metrolinx or some third party? Who is funding the project?
A. Metrolinx will be operating the service. The SmartTrack stations will be paid for by the City of Toronto. This project is undergoing a Stage Gate approvals process. At each stage, Toronto City Council give their approval and release additional funds for the City and Metrolinx to continue work. In April, City Council will decide on continued funding for the project.
Q. Are there details on fare integration? Will it cost more to transfer between GO Transit and the TTC?
A. Fare integration is a critical component of the SmartTrack program. The intention is to have one fare across the systems. The details are still being negotiated between Metrolinx, the City and the TTC.
Q. Is the East Harbour Station part of the Unilever Precinct plan?
A. Yes. The City has a planning study team that is working on that site. There is a SmartTrack station planned for this area as well. The City is working closely with the Unilever Precinct study team, the private developers, Metrolinx and the TTC to coordinate development on the site. There is also a Relief Line station planned for this area.
Q. How will the businesses – the LCBO, No Frills, daycare centre and others – on the north and west sides of the proposed station be affected? How will they be affected during the construction of the station?
A. As the City progresses the station design, both the impacts on adjacent properties and number of properties that the City may need to acquire will be determined. Development of the station will open the area to future development, and these opportunities must also be considered. The City will be consulting with Community Planning and the local Councillor’s office to determine the future commercial potential in the area. With a new station, we expect new development pressure from property owners. It is not yet determined what the specific property impacts will be.
The community planning department in the City of Toronto considers both the immediate impact on the community after this station is constructed, as well as what the area could look like 20-30 years in the future. The new infrastructure investments in this community will bring transformative change in the long term.
Q. Is it possible that the No Frills will close? What is the timeline to know the answer? Has No Frills been engaged?
A. Yes, it is possible. The SmartTrack and Relief Line projects are underway, and over the course of this year we will have more information. The City has had meetings with the owners of adjacent properties, including Choice REIT. We have ongoing discussions about future impacts. Projects like this have different kinds of property impacts – temporary impacts, easements, property acquisition, staging areas, and so on. There is a great deal that is still being determined.
Q. Will there also be opportunities?
A. Yes. There are many long term opportunities. This site is designated as mixed use in the official plan. The site is near Dundas Street and Carlaw Avenue, an area which has transformed over the last few years. There is a great deal of opportunity in the long term for commercial and community uses. The future site could accommodate a supermarket and other amenities.
Q. How long will construction last?
A. The plan is to open the stations by 2024. Construction is anticipated to begin in spring of 2020 and be completed in 2024. As is usually done for projects like this, a construction liaison group will be established. Specific construction-related impacts, as well as operational impacts, will be identified and assessed in the Environmental Assessment. The next round of consultation will have more information on the potential impacts of construction and operations, and how they could be mitigated.
Q. Can we discuss this with the business owners?
A. Yes, everything that is presented today is public information and is available on the project website (SmartTrack.to).
C. Provincial and City policy encourages intensification, especially around nodes like this. It is fair to say that the existing mall is likely not the best use of this site. What is interesting about this site is that Metrolinx will be building RER from 2020-2024, then the City will build the Relief Line from 2026-2030. This area will be under construction for various projects for at least a decade. This will become a large mass transit hub in the city. By the end of this process, the whole community will be different. We will see changes to Gerrard Square and other plazas. There will be new sensitivities about traffic into Riverdale from surrounding neighbourhoods.
A. To address the point about traffic, as the stations are being designed, the aim has been to limit the number of pick-up and drop-off areas. From a City planning perspective, we do not support these as they encourage vehicular traffic. The aim is to maximize walk-ups and connections. Adjacent private development, within a short walk, would be ideal, maximizing the opportunity for the people who live and work there to take transit.
Q. Could you give us a sense of how big the station will be? Will it have open platforms or closed?
A. The tracks will be grade separated. The station will have vertical access to platforms. The platforms are planned to have a canopy. There will not be an enclosure. There will be front door access from Carlaw Avenue, and we will aim to integrate the station with the public realm. These details will be determined as the design work progresses and will be discussed in future meetings. The TTC will ensure there is sufficient weather protection for transfers to/from TTC services.
Q. Will there be elevators?
Q. This corridor is a freight transit corridor as well. How will this be managed?
A. Freight will continue to use the corridor. Metrolinx is developing a service concept plan for all of their corridors. When the tracks are designed, Metrolinx will consider different speeds, passenger uses, freight uses and other considerations. Freight does not frequently use this line – the current usage of this line is once per week. There will also be an additional track added to this corridor. Part of this design process is to consider the configuration of these four tracks.
2. Questions and Comments on the Proposed Station
Questions were posed to participants to encourage discussion and provide information to staff about the community. A summary of this discussion is provided below. Questions are noted with Q, responses are noted with A, and comments are noted with C. Responses were provided by staff from the City, Metrolinx and TTC.
What do we need to know about your community?
C. Kids and dogs are prevalent in this community. Losing the grocery store and daycare would be difficult. Four years of construction near a daycare, which has a rooftop playground that overlooks the track, will also be a challenge. This neighbourhood has a high population of young people.
C. In the grand scheme, this new station will be good for the community. Short-term pain for long-term gain. In the interim we need to manage the impact. The community knows what it is going to lose, but right now it is difficult to clearly define what the community will gain. From a change management perspective this will be a challenge.
C. If daycares are going to be relocated, support could be provided to them. There should be plans to help relocate, provide interim space or find some other mitigation for the impact construction will have on community services. For the community, impact on these services will be central during the process.
C. Developing the station and redeveloping the neighbourhood could be a decade-long process that will impact the community. Without the No Frills, there will be strain on Food Basics.
C. The neighbourhood context is already changing rapidly. It is not all kids and dogs. There are new condo developments and younger residents. With this comes new issues; for example, there is a gap in Car2GO service. The demographic make-up of the area is shifting.
Q. Are there statistics about who lives in this area? Age, socio-economic status, and so on would be helpful.
A. As part of the environmental assessment there is a socio-economic and land use report. This report looks at community context and considers census data. This draft report will be shared once complete.
C. There are a lot of young kids in the neighbourhood. If traffic is diverted into residential streets, there will be concerns. Our street has submitted a request to have speed bumps. These are the kinds of things the neighbourhood will need. If traffic is diverted through residential streets, it is important we put in safety measures.
A. The environmental assessment process includes traffic studies for both the end state and for during construction. There may need to be a construction traffic management plan put in place.
C. On Langley Avenue, left turns are prohibited, and speed bumps and other traffic-calming improvements have been installed. There will need to be some consideration of improving other streets. If the policy is to intensify, this area will have numerous changes very fast, and will need many infrastructure investments.
C. The Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) population are mostly pedestrian with some drivers. This population relies on the footbridge that will be removed.
A. With the station construction, the pedestrian bridge will be taken down. Through the design process and EA, the aim is to provide a pedestrian connection at-grade or under the corridor.
Q. If access is diminished during construction, as the bridge will be removed, can there be a shuttle bus or other accommodations?
A. Possibly; this can be discussed with the Councillor.
C. This station will need to be completely accessible.
A. The station will be accessible.
C. Design is important. This is currently an ugly underpass, retaining walls and No Frills. There is opportunity to beautify the area.
A. These design questions, such as how the station can improve the existing area, are being considered as the station design work progresses. A recommended approach and its associated cost will be presented to Council.
Q. What is the station design process?
A. The station will be completed through an Alternative Financing and Procurement (AFP) Process. Metrolinx and the City of Toronto will develop the station design to the 30% design stage. After this, it will go to procurement to find a partner that will complete the detailed design and construct the station.
Q. Any other changes that we need to consider, such as the addition of the new track? Will there be property expropriation?
A. The environmental assessment for the new track was completed last year. It can be found online. If you have other specific questions you can connect with the Metrolinx Community Relations team. In terms of property acquisition, there will be some. Affected properties have already been contacted.
C. Future density and neighbourhood changes will need to be reflected in the presentation deck when we move to the community meeting. This information needs to be communicated.
Q. Have the Relief Line consultations started?
A. The City has been undertaking the preliminary EA for the Relief Line for the last three years. Public engagement is entering its final phase. There will be another round of engagement as the TPAP commences.
C. RER entails putting in new rails, creating new lines and so on. The Relief Line will be developed separately underground for an extended period of time. There will be different disruptions as different projects progress. The staging for this is very complicated and coordination will be important.
A. Construction technology is still being determined. At Eglinton, for example, some stations are being mined. Different construction techniques have different levels of disruption. The Relief Line will likely be built much later than the SmartTrack station, as funding for SmartTrack is already set aside. There will also be a requirement that both lines connect at this site.
Q. Will the SmartTrack station and Relief Line station will be stacked on each other?
A. Yes. The vision is that the connection between the lines will be seamless. This is the only SmartTrack station to connect with a subway line in this way. There will not be separate stations, instead there will be a shared entrance and wayfinding.
C. In the meantime, some basic community improvements can help win favourability with the community. Improving the 506 streetcar service, for example.
A. This can be considered. The 506 streetcar will be replaced with bus service starting February 2018 as the City waits for new streetcars to be delivered.
C. From an affordability perspective, TCHC residents are the least likely to be using this service. From a disruption perspective, it will impact them the most, such as the loss of community access via the footbridge and other construction impacts. For them, there is disruption and little upside. We need to make sure we consider this.
Q. What was the attendance at the public meeting?
A. Participation varies. The last public meeting in Riverdale had approximately 200 participants. The aim is to pick dates and venues that work for participants. Information and opportunities to participate are also available online for those who cannot attend the meetings. The next round of meetings will be focused on the environmental assessment, including – considerations such as cultural heritage and traffic. More information will be provided shortly regarding when the next round of public meetings will be held.
Q. The Eglinton Crosstown is being built with a community benefit agreement, with some percentage of work hours being allotted to local residents; is this being considered for this project?
A. Metrolinx is considering this type of agreement for this project. Details have not been confirmed for SmartTrack.
C. There will be a great deal of activity on this site. There will be pressure to increase density, change the zoning and so on. We need to make sure the public understands these effects are part of transit. The community will be different, and there will be development pressure on a number of properties, including Gerrard Square. The public needs to formally hear about the transformative impact of the station. Was there a slide on this?
A. There is not yet a slide on this. There is a great deal of work still to be completed on how this station will be laid out, how the public realm will be changed, and so on. There is a need to design the station to enable future development opportunities.
C. It would be helpful if the public understood the land use potential and zoning of the area.
C. The community needs to understand that the site will not look the same as it does today. It won’t be the same neighbourhood just with a new station. The community needs to understand that the whole area will change. It is important to manage this change. What the zoning will look like, how we can make sure there are grocery stores and other considerations will be important.
Q. What are the requirements for this community? Will development entail more condos? Will it include amenities? These are the things we need to consider. This is not just a station, we’re talking about something much bigger.
A. The challenge here is that the site is in a low-rise residential area. As a result, densification and development will be managed to not greatly impact the residential areas.
Q. What is the cost of the station?
A. The Initial Business Case estimated the cost at approximately $200 million. This station was the most expensive by a large margin; the rest of the SmartTrack stations are estimated to cost around or under $100 million each per the IBC.
Q. Is the station funded?
A. There is a funding envelope for the entire SmartTrack program. A Stage Gate process has been implemented for SmartTrack. At each project milestone, progress is presented to City Council, who then decides whether to approve continued work and provide funding.
Q. Traffic is an issue in this area; are the police involved in this plan?
A. Police are not typically engaged at this stage. Further along emergency services are brought in. Police are not usually engaged in traffic related issues. Instead, we coordinate with the City’s transportation services.
3. Wrap up and Next Steps
Participants were informed of the various ways to give feedback, including project-specific email addresses (firstname.lastname@example.org and SmartTrack@toronto.ca) and project websites (www.metrolinx.com/newstations and www.smarttrack.to/).Participants were encouraged to take the information presented back to their community groups and encourage members of these groups to attend the upcoming public meetings.
The next round of public and stakeholder consultation will be held in March 2018. Refined station designs and progress of the environmental studies will be discussed at that time.