Thursday March 1, 2018 | 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Lithuanian House | 1573 Bloor Street West

 Meeting Summary

Project Staff

Stella Gustavson, City of Toronto
Nish Bala, City of Toronto
Gary Papas, City of Toronto
Ulrica Ho, City of Toronto
Brian Anders, City of Toronto
Liora Freedman, City of Toronto
David Brutto, City of Toronto
Nigel Tahair, City of Toronto
Corwin Cambray, City of Toronto
Kurtis Elton, City of Toronto
Aviva Pelt, City of Toronto
James Parakh, City of Toronto
Eric Mann, City of Toronto
Richard Beck, City of Toronto
Sarah Henstock, City of Toronto
Emilia Floro, City of Toronto
Jack Krubnik, City of Toronto
Scott Pennington, City of Toronto
Ed Presta, City of Toronto
Saikat Basak, City of Toronto
Shalin Yeboah, City of Toronto
Scott Haskill, TTC, City of Toronto
Brian Gallaugher, Metrolinx
Richard Borbridge, Metrolinx
Manuela Istrate, Metrolinx
James Francis, Metrolinx
Sandy Grigg, Metrolinx
Jason Ryan, Metrolinx
Simon Strauss, Metrolinx
Michelle Louli, Metrolinx
Laura Durie, Metrolinx
Joel Dempster, Metrolinx

Project Consultants

Brendan Agnew-Iler, Argyle PR
Alex Lavasidis, LURA Consulting
Mark Armstrong, 4Transit
David Hopper, 4Transit
Wendy Ng, 4Transit

1. Opening Remarks and Overview

Brendan Agnew-Iler welcomed participants to the first public meeting of the second phase of consultation events for the new SmartTrack/GO Stations in Toronto. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss four proposed SmartTrack and GO stations: King-Liberty SmartTrack Station, St. Clair-Old Weston SmartTrack Station, Spadina-Front GO Station and Bloor-Lansdowne GO Station.

Stella Gustavson summarized the feedback received during the last round of public consultation, and provided a high-level overview of Toronto’s rapid transit network and the SmartTrack program. James Francis then provided an overview of Metrolinx’s RER program, the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP) and updates to station designs. Following this, James presented a summary of the findings of the environmental studies, which included the following disciplines: natural environment and tree inventory; socio-economics and land use; archaeology and cultural heritage; transportation; noise and vibration; and air quality.

2. Facilitated Discussion Period

Following the 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 with A, and comments are noted with C. Responses were provided by staff from the City and Metrolinx.

Q. Are you including train bell noises in the sound studies conducted for each station?

A. Yes, bell noises are included in the modeling. The draft noise assessment including results will be released for public review shortly.

Q. Were all of the studies based on the assumption of electric trains?

A. Yes, future planned service levels are being used for the studies. Metrolinx is working to electrify provincially owned portions of the rail corridors. Some stations and extensions will still use diesel trains, but the vast majority of the GO rail network will be electrified.

Q. If the future provincial government doesn’t electrify trains, would you have to redo this whole process?

A. Under the Transit Project Assessment Process regulation, Metrolinx is obligated to reassess if there is a change that is inconsistent with the environmental project report.

Q. I am a resident adjacent to the proposed Bloor-Lansdowne GO Station and am concerned about air quality, noise and vibration issues. Air quality is expected to be regulated at provincial and federal levels, but what protection and measures are offered to residents? For example, will we get sound barriers, preferably along the rail corridor and facing the station? Under current conditions, existing trains create vibration every half hour; similar impacts due to these proposed developments are important to the community.

A. At each station we identify representative residences for assessment of predicted effects to air quality, noise, and vibration as a result of the project. Noise impacts are not anticipated to be at a level that would require barriers. We can look at your specific location and pin-point exactly what we are anticipating in terms of project effects – let’s connect offline.

Q. At the Spadina-Front GO station, where can a platform fit?

A. We have looked at the area to identify where we can accommodate a platform. We currently store trains at this location. Given spatial constraints, the tracks associated with the Barrie corridor can accommodate a station.

Q. Can you elaborate on noise findings regarding the bells? I am a block from the Bloor GO station; Metrolinx lowered the volume on the UP Express bells, but I’m still bothered by the bell ringing up to 1 am. Some residences are closer to these stations than I am; the bells will impact them. Also, in the UP Express sound and vibration study the bells were not mentioned. I’m looking forward to reading the reports that come out of this study and understanding what decibel level these residents will experience. Please elaborate on your modeling and what decibel level people will hear at the stations.

A. Noise from bells has been incorporated in the models, and modelling results indicate that no noise mitigation is required per MOECC guidance. Regardless, Metrolinx is looking into broadly reducing impacts from bell noise. We do hear the concern and we are looking to see how we can move forward on it.

Q. I have a hard time getting over the business case for this project. Aside from that, can you clarify from a technical side, the frequency of the noise and not just decibel level is being measured? The pitch of the bells is important to consider in the model. Also, in the bus loop, the lowering of buses up and down creates sound; is that being included in measurements? If you can’t provide technical answers tonight, can you record this question and provide a technical answer when possible?

A. The technical reports for the new stations identify A-weighted decibel levels, which consider the frequency of noise. To clarify, the bus loop at Bloor-Lansdowne is only for Wheel-Trans.

C. Our community is concerned about connectivity. A bridge to Earlscourt Park would be huge. This would provide a good connection to businesses and improve safety. What we need now is funding.

Q. Can you discuss cycling and pedestrian connections north to St. Clair Avenue and how residents connect to the station at St. Clair Avenue?

A. It has been brought to our attention that there is community interest in extending the West Toronto Rail Path north to St. Clair-Old Weston Station. It is challenging to work within this area of the rail corridor and the City is actively engaging with Metrolinx to understand that area better, and to understand the linkage opportunities from a network perspective. We hope to report more on this in the coming weeks and months.

Q. Regarding the Earlscourt Park bridge, will the station, bridge, and rail corridor extension happen all at once? What is the timeline for construction?

A. The timeline for station construction is 2020-2025.

C. I am a resident next to the proposed St. Clair-Old Weston station. Many people here are concerned about the sound of bells associated with the proposed trains. Trains operating on these lines are required to sound their bells by Transport Canada; as a condition to use these rail lines all trains must sound bells on approach of the station for safety reasons. But I understand that in other jurisdictions there are urban rail systems that operate without sounding their bells. I propose a jurisdictional scan by Metrolinx to look at what is being done in those other urban areas, to see if you can safely run trains in urban areas without bells, and to see if that can be applied in a Toronto context. This seems to be a recurring issue, so rather than individual members of communities being impacted by noise concerns, and raising those concerns piecemeal, it may be better for Metrolinx to take a whole agency approach. Metrolinx should do a jurisdictional scan, contact representatives from all levels of government, and approach Transport Canada to show, after the jurisdictional scan, that there is a safe process to operate the trains without sounding bells. This would lead to greater buy-in by community members concerned about this bell issue. Lobby the federal government to change this requirement across the board.

A. Metrolinx is looking into broadly reducing impacts from bell noise and we will work to follow up on this issue.

C. I think we need to explicitly report on progress on the bell issue in the publically released Environmental Project Report (EPR), as a standout piece. The slide deck presented didn’t address this issue. There has been good outreach in the community; however, this issue is a significant gap in your communications with the community.

Q. Can you provide more information on the King-Liberty SmartTrack Station? For example, the status of the parking options behind Sudbury? Losing those parking spaces could be the difference between people staying in the neighbourhood or relocating.

A. The design of the King-Liberty SmartTrack station has been shifted recently, and detailed design is underway. The City and Metrolinx continue to explore options for the West Toronto Railpath extension because it is important to the community, but we recognise that there are significant challenges involved. The intent is to minimize impact on the adjacent townhomes. More information will be shared once available.

Q. Climate change is absent from the presentation and the Environmental Assessment. This came up at past meetings; it should be there. Why isn’t it?

A. A section of the EPR will specifically address climate change. We are also considering climate change as part of the Air Quality Assessment, which includes assessment of GHG emissions.

C. There are many people who reside in between two or more proposed or existing lines. I’m from around the Junction triangle and have gone to many meetings where I was promised electrification. Previously, the City had no real leverage on this. Mr. Mayor I love SmartTrack and additional transit in the City; I want to make sure we really get electric trains and cleaner air. Please make a clear statement that electric is the way to go.

Q. Is one of the things considered for King-Liberty Station making Sudbury Street one way? Many local residents would be ok with that system.

A. The City can explore this suggestion as station design advances.

Q. At King-Liberty Station, in the presentation, the main station entrance is at 99 Sudbury Street. Current plans for that property are a condo and hotel development. Are you working with the developer to integrate the station into the developer’s design?

A. Adjacent landowners have been engaged at all the stations, but there is still work to be done to understand the impacts. The development proposed at the particular property you spoke about is currently before the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).

C. There is a lot of concern with the West Toronto Rail Path. I use and love but the Rail Path, but it should not derail the transit station. More people will be using transit than using the path.

A. As part of station design work, it is important the stations are integrated into the existing community and connectivity is improved where possible. Improved connectivity is something we consider important.

Q. At King-Liberty Station, along the back of the condo, there was a sound barrier put up; will that be impacted by future construction? Also, I support the changes in the new design, but what is the timeline for us to get more information and learn about changes? Finally, please make sure you have permission, and notification is provided to property owners in writing before coming onto our properties, which is not what has occurred in the past.

A. Permission and notification to property owners prior to surveys should be provided. Please let us know the details about that situation when it was not provided (offline). For a timeline for receiving additional information, we are getting in touch with property owners very soon, in the next few months. To address your question about the barrier, we will be having follow-up discussions with potentially affected property owners once that information is available.

Q. I live at the townhomes on Sudbury. Could we still lose parking spots or is that off the table?

A. The station will likely not require rail corridor widening. What I spoke to earlier was in relation the potential extension of the West Toronto Rail Path. We do recognise that the extension would have an impact on the townhomes. We want to explore innovative ways to extend the rail path without impacting the townhome parking, or minimizing impact to it.

Q. I also live on St. Helens, behind the station. You mentioned only Wheel-Trans will access that loop, but what about the general public? If the public has access, what plans are being put forward to manage traffic along St. Helens? A condo was put in nearby and there has already been an increase in traffic.

A. As it stands, we have not contemplated that there would be private vehicle access; the loop would only be for Wheel-Trans access. However, we are still early in the process and there is potential for this to change. Currently, the station is not anticipated to impact traffic.

C. Thanks for the effort to integrate transit and pedestrian infrastructure connections. I’d like to state my support for pedestrian and cycling network integration in this project.

C. I live on Sterling Road and am a member of the Residents’ Association which includes people on Perth Avenue. A lot of people have started waiting for ride share and taxis on front lawns in our neighbourhood. There are improper waiting and crossing areas and this is unsafe. I anticipate the same type of thing happening on St. Helens that is occurring on Perth Avenue. There are opportunities to work with new developers now, to plan and install a proper kiss-and-ride, because otherwise the residential areas become unsafe kiss-and-rides.

C. I just got this meeting notice today (another member of the public echoed that they didn’t get a notice at all). This notice is much too short; I was only able to attend because I am retired and have the time.

 Q. I am in a townhome behind St. Clair Avenue. Have you considered the impacts of light pollution and could Metrolinx speak to how they plan on mitigating light pollution from the station once it is built? Second, the St. Clair-Old Weston station will include a bus loop; has the impact of those busses been included in the air quality studies?

A. Regarding concerns about light pollution, we are conscious of light pollution and are working to mitigate those concerns. Metrolinx follows LEED standards for new buildings, and within the LEED framework lighting is addressed. Design of the station is being undertaken with consideration of light spillage. Regarding the bus services, we work closely with the TTC and have included future planned bus service to the station in the air quality study.

Q. Can you run smaller trains to be more cost effective, from the start of this 15-minute or less service change?

A. Those details are not yet worked out, as the service plan is still in development.

Q. What are your big take-aways from this meeting? What are the residents really upset about?

A. Two main take-aways are: 1) need to electrify the GO system and 2) concerns about noise across the system, from construction, increased service, and bells. Noise is something we are working on. We will take this feedback away for consideration.

People are also concerned about how this project will impact themselves and their properties. I want to know what people in the room think about having these stations – broadly, should we move forward?

Answer from the crowd is general calls of “yes”, but with recognition that there are also challenges and drawbacks that need to be addressed.

3. Wrap up and Next Steps

Participants were informed of the various ways to give feedback, including project-specific email addresses (newstations@metrolinx.com and SmartTrack@toronto.ca) and project websites (www.metrolinx.com/newstations and smarttrack.to/).

Two additional public meetings will be held as follows:

  • Tuesday, March 6, 2018, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm (presentation at 7:00 pm), at the Scarborough Civic Centre, Council Chamber, 150 Borough Drive.
  • Wednesday, March 21, 2018, from 6:15 pm to 8:30 pm (presentation at 7:30 pm), at Queen Alexandra Middle School, Small Gym, 181 Broadview Avenue.