Meeting #1

 Wednesday, September 28, 2017 | 5:00 – 7:00 pm

Scarborough Civic Centre | 270 Laughton Ave

Meeting Summary

Project Staff

Mike Logan, City of Toronto
Nish Bala, City of Toronto
Gary Papas, City of Toronto
Jessica Kwon, City of Toronto
Laurence Lui, TTC
Richard Borbridge, Metrolinx
Ryan Chan, Metrolinx
James Francis, Metrolinx

Project Consultants

Brendan Agnew-Iler, Argyle
Betty Kim, Argyle
Rebecca Snider, Argyle

Guests

Councillor Chin Lee, Councillor for Scarborough-Rouge River
Councillor Karygiannis, Councillor for Scarborough-Agincourt
Roxanne Francois, Councillor Thompson’s Office
Lione Miskin, Kennedy Road Business Improvement Area (BIA)
John Kiru, Kennedy Road BIA
Fred Guth, KFA Architects and Planners
Kregg Fordyce, KFA Architects and Planners
Denis Lanoue, Heathwood Ratepayers Association
Stan Yu, CPAC
Rhoda Potter, Agincourt Village Community Association
Stephen Casselman, CD Farquharson Community Association
Ernie McCullough, Sheppard East Village BIA 

1. Opening Remarks and Overview

Brendan Agnew-Iler welcomed Stakeholders to the first Scarborough SmartTrack Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the proposed Finch-Kennedy and Lawrence-Kennedy SmartTrack stations. Mike Logan and James Francis 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 period 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: How big was the outreach for this SAG meeting?
A:
The Finch-Kennedy station had 34 invited stakeholders. The Lawrence-Kennedy station had 12 invited stakeholders.

Q: When are the next upcoming meetings?
A:
We are planning public meetings in mid-October. We anticipate that the next round of SAG meetings will be in 2018.

Q: What has been the approach to outreach for the October public meetings?
A:
There was an ad placed in Metro News on September 26, 2017. Station Stakeholders were identified using the City’s stakeholder list and local Councillor input. Email invitations were sent to stakeholders. Social media will also be used to promote the meetings. Information is also available on the project website. Metrolinx will be advertising the meetings at GO stations. The TTC will also promote the meeting at subway stations.

Q: Has this meeting been advertised in the local community multi-language newspapers?
A:
Not for this round, but this will be explored in the future.

C: You mentioned there are only 44 planned parking spaces at Lawrence-Kennedy Station. This seems very little in comparison to what we have at Kennedy.
A:
As noted, a key benefit of the SmartTrack initiative is about integrating both the GO and TTC networks. The City’s travel demand model anticipates future riders will primarily arrive at these stations by surface transit routes. We reported to City Council in October 2016 that we are not in favour of parking lots at these stations with reduced sports. The proposed parking at Lawrence-Kennedy is actually reusing the parking lot that exists there today.

Q: Is there an existing parking lot at Lawrence-Kennedy Station? How many spaces exist today?
A:
There is an existing parking lot on the east side of the corridor. There are 104 spaces.

Q: You will be going from 104 to 44 parking spaces?
A:
Yes. According to TTC parking utilization numbers, the current spaces are underutilized.

Q: Is there only one design concept available for the Finch East station?
A:
While the initial business case concept developed by Metrolinx, and the refined concept that is based on the principles reported to council in October 2016 is the concept we are consulting on today.  Feedback from Stakeholders today and the upcoming public consultations will inform the station design.

Q: How many parking spaces were in the original design of Finch-Kennedy Station?
A:
The original design considered 220 parking spaces.

Q: How many parking spaces does the present Finch-Kennedy Station design concept have?
A:
It has zero, consistent with what was reported to City council last fall. As mentioned, all feedback received from Stakeholders and the public on these designs will be reported to council.

C: Our community at Kennedy and Steeles has a lot of traffic. As part of the Steeles Avenue East Bridge Municipal Class Environmental Assessment, we specifically asked that TTC buses would operate in a designated curbside stopping area along Steeles Avenue, rather than impede normal traffic lanes. But this idea was rejected. I would like to make sure that for this project, the Finch-Kennedy grade separation is designed for TTC buses to operate in a designated curbside stopping area, so traffic would not be blocked.
A:
The design of Finch-Kennedy Station will accommodate a designated bus stopping area, separate from general traffic lanes.

Q: Is Finch going to be 2 lanes in each direction?
A:
Yes, at this point, there are no plans to widen Finch Avenue from its current 4-lane cross-section beyond the widening required to accommodate designated curbside stopping areas.

Q: Will bicycle lanes be accommodated like the ones on Steeles Avenue?
A:
The design in the handout has markers where pedestrian and cycling connections meet the station. Cycling infrastructure will be incorporated into the design as we work to accommodate sustainable transportation to these stations.  The location and design of the bicycle lanes will be refined throughout Detailed Design.

Q: How will pedestrians cross the tracks on Finch Avenue?
A:
Finch-Kennedy is designed to include a road under rail grade separation. The grade separation will include a connection beneath the tracks to allow pedestrian and cyclist circulation.

Q: Will there be a continuous sidewalk?
A:
There will be a wide sidewalk that will function much like a bus platform. Station users will be able to walk across this platform to an elevator or escalator that will take them to and from the station platform itself. Cycling activity will be managed as well.

Q: Will you be separating pedestrians from the cyclists?
A:
This is something that will be defined through detail design work.

Q: What is the existing parking capacity at Agincourt GO Station? At Milliken GO Station? Are there plans to expand parking at either of these stations?  What’s the utilization of these parking spaces on a daily basis?
A:
According to Metrolinx’s 2013 Station Access Plan,  Milliken station has a parking supply of 728 spaces – of which 69 per cent are utilized. At Agincourt station, there are 319 parking spaces and it is fully utilized. There are plans to expand parking at Agincourt by up to 200 spaces in the future.

Post-meeting note: updated numbers according to the 2016 Station Access Plan: Milliken Station has a parking supply of 665 spaces – of which between 81-90 per cent are utilized. There are plans to expand parking at Milliken by 440 spaces. At Agincourt Station, there are 342 parking spaces – of which between 91-100 per cent are utilized. There are plans to expand parking at Agincourt by 100 spaces.

C: Not providing commuter parking fails to take into account what the community wants.
A:
This is the first time the City and Metrolinx are sharing these eight new station concepts publicly. Public input will be taken into account as station designs are refined.

Q: Would you consider hosting these public meetings closer to the proposed station sites?
A:
This location, the Scarborough Civic Centre, was chosen because it is well-known and easily accessible.  We are open to using other venues.

C: This location is too much of a trek for some residents.
A: We will look at opportunities for additional meetings in different locations.

C: We are concerned that parking is not a priority for Metrolinx and the City, and that parking is needed by the community.

C: If there is no parking, accessibility will be a problem. Consider adding parking spots reserved for those with accessible parking permits.

C: There needs to be more representation of the Finch‑Kennedy community for future meetings.

A: We have invited 25 organizations from the Finch-Kennedy Station area. If there are other organizations that may be of interest, we are open to inviting them as well.

2. Questions for Each Proposed Station

The Lawrence-Kennedy and Finch-Kennedy station concepts were presented. Participants were invited to ask questions and offer comments.

Lawrence-Kennedy Station

C: It is important to keep cyclists and pedestrians separate.

Q: What attention is being paid to the local businesses at Lawrence-Kennedy? How will they be protected from the losses that we saw at St. Clair and Eglinton?
A:
The City and Metrolinx are assessing property impacts around the stations. We recognize there will be construction impacts along the Lawrence corridor and we aim to concentrate impact on City-owned land. There is City-owned land on the west side of the corridor, north of Lawrence.

Q: When will property impacts to local businesses be identified and addressed?
A:
The station concept must be developed before property impacts can be assessed. Considerations such as business access and impact will be considered as we develop our construction plan.

C: We need property impacts to local business owners in the report right from the beginning.

Q: How long is the construction duration for these stations?
A:
This depends on the complexity of the site. The commitment is to have the stations functional by 2025. There are a number of steps to get to before that happens. The detailed design and construction will be done by a private sector partner.

C: The average loss of business is in excess of 50% for most businesses.

Q: Is this going to be two tracks?
A:
Yes. Double-tracking of the Stouffville rail corridor is currently underway.

Q: What effect will double-tracking have?
A:
The double track will be implemented first. Double-tracking construction has already started on the Stouffville rail corridor. The second track will bring us closer to the goal of frequent two‑way service for your community.

Q: Construction techniques – will there be pile driving?
A:
The stations are still in the conceptual stage. Actual construction techniques have not yet been determined. In terms of the station we are uncertain if it will be piles or slabs. This will be determined through ongoing design refinement. The SAG will continue to meet throughout the EA process, so if these issues emerge, we can discuss them.

C: Consider multiple points of entry.
A:
There are a total of five planned entrances: two beneath the Lawrence Overpass on both sides of the rail corridor, two entrances on the Lawrence Overpass that would provide a point of entry for bus transfers, and one entrance north of Lawrence that would integrate well with future developments.

Q: The northern entrance is all industrial land. How do we get to that from the east?
A:
We see an opportunity to improve the road network north of Lawrence, through future developments, which will enhance connections to the station.

Q: This station came under discussion because of the link to the Scarborough General Hospital. I am wondering if there is anything different to be done to improve the link between the hospital and this station. What can we consider to move people faster? Will it be the same Lawrence Avenue run?
A:
The goal is to make the bus connection and service as efficient as possible. We are very open to ideas. There is already an express route along Lawrence. That service will not be removed. Instead we are working to enhance it through the express bus service launched earlier this year. This service is dependent on funding, as it requires a subsidy to operate.

Q: How often do buses run on Lawrence?
A:
Currently, the combined branches of the Lawrence 54 bus runs every three minutes. This is one of the busiest corridors. There will be changes when the Crosstown opens because the Lawrence bus is planned to connect into the LRT at Don Mills and Eglinton. The Lawrence bus is the longest route in the TTC system today.

Q: Will the train arrive in an enclosed station or open air? How will this effect sound? The SRT is very loud.
A:
The station is planned to be open air. The SRT is old. Right now the GO trains are diesel and once the corridor is electrified, we will run electric trains which are quieter than diesel trains.

Q: What about braking noise? What is the time frame for electrification?
A:
Noise from train acceleration and deceleration will be considered in the environmental assessment for the station. The time frame for electrification is 2025. The environmental assessment for electrification is underway, and the associated technical studies are out for review. The plan is for electrification to be in place to compliment service increases.

C: In terms of design, weather protection is vital, as are graffiti‑proof walls, durable walls and better garbage stations. The bus stations currently do not hold up very well or resist vandals. We would like things like exposed brick that lasts a long time and is hard to write on. Look at the longevity of what has worked and not worked previously.

C: We would like the public brought into design decisions.
A:
Part of the objective of this meeting and the upcoming public meetings is obtaining input on the station concepts. Refined station concepts, including renderings, are planned to be presented for public review and input in 2018. This is when we will seek feedback on the design concepts and input on how the station designs integrate with the communities they are in.

Q: Will you be providing sound proofing, like pilings with glass walls?
A:
Noise levels from current service and predicted future noise levels will be examined in the environmental assessment. If the predicted noise increase associated with the new station is five decibels or larger we look at options to mitigate it. Noise barriers are one of the options. Site‑specific considerations, like topography, inform the effectiveness of mitigation options. As planning the environmental assessment progress, predictions will be made and mitigation can be determined. Feedback on proposed mitigation will be sought in future meetings.

Q: Will they put noise baffles and barriers like at Sheppard station.
A: This will be examined.

Finch-Kennedy Station

C: When you talk about doing an environmental assessment, you need to take into account the people that live in these communities and the impact on them. Make sure you understand how the community uses these tracks. Specifically, how do children get to school? How many children cross the tracks? What we are seeing is that children will have to go through the station to cross the tracks. Make sure the people within the community are safe, and not just the commuters.

C: This area is an old former suburb. On average, if there are more than 2 transit transfers required to complete a trip, people are more likely to drive instead of taking transit. If we are here to promote the use of transit and try to minimize congestion, then you have to do everything possible to get people to use the trains, including having parking.

C: When thinking about parking, you have to also consider the impact on local businesses. Parking areas at business locations will be filled up by commuters. Security would have to be hired to manage the situation.

C: We all want and need transit. We needed it 25 years ago. But you have to think about the impact on the community. Without a parking lot, people will park illegally on the street. This is a big issue on Agincourt. Even consider remote parking, if you won’t be designing parking facilities at the station.

C: Look at integrating bus routes, including a bus running from McNicoll to Milliken station or to this new station, so people close farther away can have easier access to the station. Maximize the buses and provide parking to those who don’t have access to the buses.

C: When do you expect electrification to happen? When do you expect SmartTrack to happen?
A:
  The intention is to have electrification completed by the end of 2025. This is the same timeline as the full regional express rail program. SmartTrack is also working towards the same timeline.

Q: Will SmartTrack get delayed until electrification? The impact of noise of diesel engines on the community is tremendous.
A:
We will look into the noise effects of increased service into the future as part of the environmental assessment.

Q: Will electrification happen before SmartTrack?
A:
Some of the elements of RER are happening now. Increases in services frequency will be implemented before electrification. The environmental assessment process for electrification is further ahead than the environmental assessment for the new SmartTrack stations, with EA documents for electrification available for public review and comment.

Q: In the interim, will the noise walls kill much of the sound?
A:
Noise modelling, completed as part of the environmental assessment, anticipates predicted future noise. Where there is a predicted increase in noise of 5 decibels or more from the current levels, site‑specific noise mitigation will be considered. Noise barriers are one type of noise mitigation that may be explored.

Q: What is the proposed result of putting up the walls?
A: It is site specific. Existing noise levels will be examined and future noise level predictions will be made. Then we consider mitigation measures such as walls. It is too early in the process to determine this.

Q: Are you considering enclosing the station at Finch-Kennedy, or will be just noise walls?
A: The station concept is open.

C: We want to compliment you on putting the station north of Finch. You have reduced impacts to people on Bellefontaine Street and Petworth Crescent.

C: When looking at noise mitigation, you must look at how much the noise is going to be reduced for the community.

5. Wrap up and Next Steps

Participants were informed of the other ways to give feedback, including a dedicated email address and project website. 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 for review and input and an update on the environmental assessment will be provided at that time.