Meeting #1

 Thursday, October 5, 2017 | 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Gladstone Hotel | 1214 Queen St West

 Meeting Summary

Participants

Paula Capela, Trinity Bellwoods Community Association
Darleen Broomfield, Toronto Standard Condominium Corporation (TSCC)- 2540
Sara Hines, Bloomdale Community Improvement Assocation
Melinda Medley, Ossington Village
Judy Land, Bloordale Community Improvement Association
Cameron MacKinnon, First Capital
Michelle Stone, Dovercourt Boys and Girls Club
Scott Dobson, Friends Of West Toronto Railpath
Janet Madov, Options for Davenport
Alicia Kuntz, First Capital Realty
Marco Paganeli, 99 Sudbury
Karen Beitel, TSCC 2210
Trevor Vaughn, TSCC 1657
Laura Zeglen, Options for Davenport
Heather Leger, Councillor Mike Layton’s Office
Francois Baillorge, Ubisoft Toronto
Paul Chomik, Lakeshore Planning Council
P. Moulder, Lakeshore Planning Council
Gary Pieters, City Place Residents Association

Observer

Councillor Bailao, City Councillor for Ward 18

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
Robyn Shyllit, City of Toronto
Michael Hain, City of Toronto
David Brutto, City of Toronto
Scott Pennington, City of Toronto
Laurence Lui, TTC
Ryan Chan, Metrolinx
Richard Borbridge, Metrolinx
Manuela Istrate, Metrolinx
Shannon McNeill, Metrolinx
Simon Strauss, Metrolinx

Project Consultants

Brendan Agnew-Iler, Argyle
Betty Kim, Argyle
Shirven Rezvany, Argyle
Shannon Gardiner, Argyle
Jim Faught, LURA

1. Opening Remarks and Overview

Jim Faught welcomed participants to the first SmartTrack Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) meeting for the King-Liberty SmartTrack Station, and the Bloor-Lansdowne and Spadina-Front GO Stations. Stella Gustavson, Shannon McNeill and Simon Strauss presented an overview of the project and consultation process.

1.1 Questions from Participants

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: Are the SmartTrack stations part of the Metrolinx mandate?
A:
The City and Metrolinx are working together to plan the new stations. SmartTrack includes six new stations along three GO rail corridors. Eglinton West LRT is also part of the SmartTrack plan. Metroinx is also planned two additional new GO stations in Toronto.

Q: Will the trains be different?
A:
No, the trains for both SmartTrack and GO Regional Express Rail (RER) service will be GO trains.

Q: Who is in charge of SmartTrack?
A:
City, Metrolinx and TTC are working together on planning and designing the new SmartTrack stations, which will be paid for by the City. Metrolinx owns the GO rail corridors and will operate the SmartTrack service. The

Q: Could you provide more detail about integrated fares?
A:
There has been a recent announcement by the City and Metrolinx to reduce fares for riders transferring between the GO and TTC systems. This announcement starts the move towards fare integration. It is still early in the fare integration negotiations. One of the key components of SmartTrack is an integrated fare.

Q: Are there any plans to evaluate or improve the automatic fare boxes? This should be part of the overall plan to improve services. This includes the TTC fare machines, not just the Presto card machines.
A:
Presto is still relatively new on the TTC. The TTC and Metrolinx are working to improve Presto reliability. New software was recently installed that has improved reliability. New machines are planned to be rolled out across the entire system in the near future as well.

Q: I do not see mention of the Union Pearson Express; will there be a stop at the King-Liberty station?A: The Union Pearson Express was designed for a very specific purpose: to create an express connection from Union Station to Pearson airport. There are no plans at this time to add any additional stops (beyond Mount Dennis Station) to Union Pearson Express service.

C: Accessibility is important. When you look at the station concepts, it appears as though riders will have to travel outside to connect with buses. Some of these transfers are long. If a rider uses a walker or a wheelchair, these distances may discourage ridership. Sidewalk clearance in the winter will be essential for maintaining accessibility.

2.  Facilitated Discussion

Participants were seated at station‑specific roundtables for group discussions. Each table had a facilitator and note-taker. There were two tables which were focused mainly on King-Liberty SmartTrack Station and one table mainly focused on Bloor-Lansdowne GO Station. There was one participant whose interest was also focused on St. Clair-Old Weston SmartTrack Station. 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.

King-Liberty SmartTrack Station

Questions of clarification:

Q: Is there no difference between amenities at GO and SmartTrack stations? Is this a renaming project?A: The City is funding the development of the SmartTrack stations. The amenities, linkages and accessibility are anticipated to be consistent across the new urban stations.

Q: Will GO trains stop at this station?
A:
Yes. The SmartTrack stations will be part of the GO network.

Q: If I move from TTC to GO to TTC again in a one direction trip, do I need to pay a double TTC fare?
A:
Fare integration is an important component of SmartTrack. The objective is that transferring riders would not have to pay a second fare.

Q: The city should not hold high the importance of maintaining a 25 minute trip on the Union Pearson Express to the airport. We should also look at fare integration for the Union Pearson Express.
A:
There are technical challenges in the corridor to having the Union Pearson Express trains run to this station. The extremely tight corridor at this location precludes platforms on more than one line. Serving the Kitchener corridor provides access to many stations and destinations, including UP Express stops. For airport-specific journeys, passengers can transfer at Bloor. Fare integration is an important part of the Smart Track discussion and will be considered in the future.

Q: What is the timeline for this station?
A:
The station is planned to be operational by 2025.

Q: Could you offer more detail on heritage buildings potentially being adapted to accommodate station infrastructure?
A: To understand how to design the station, there is a need to understand issues and demands of the area and passenger use. Public input on this issue is helpful. The City and Metrolinx are not at the property acquisition phase yet. Details on this will emerge as station planning and design progress.

Q: Who is taking the lead on planning these stations?
A: The City, Metrolinx and TTC are working in coordination on planning the new stations.

Q: Will Toronto Bike Share be expanding in the area?
A: The intention is to include bicycle parking at the station. There can be further exploration of adding new Bike Share facilities.

Q: What are the plans for increasing the number of streetcars that service Liberty Village?
A: The planned King Street Pilot Project, between Bathurst and Jarvis, will see improvements for King Street streetcar service through Liberty Village. SmartTrack will provide options for people and the proposed fare integration would attract people to switch over to GO, allowing more efficient use of all transit service.

Q: When will Notice of Commencement of the Transit Project Assessment Process be published?
A: The official Notice of Commencement is planned for mid 2018.

The following questions were posed for consideration by the group:

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

C: There are concerns about increased traffic on Joe Shuster Way. There is also fear for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists on this street with increased traffic volumes.

C: Around Atlantic and Dufferin there are new commercial buildings being developed and there will be new employees commuting to the area. The existing parking lots are already full. This new commercial development will put pressure on the existing parking infrastructure.

C: The nature of the area, the mix of employment lands and residential areas, means that there will be a high volume of movement at peak times, but not necessarily throughout the day.

C: Connectivity in general needs to be improved. Existing links are weak within and around Liberty Village. It is currently not easy to walk around the area, with large barriers affecting connectivity. There need to be access points between the north and south sides of the community to provide biking and pedestrian linkages. Service adjustments for transit are behind the rate of growth in the area. Overall, need more access to transit and need options to move within and around the community.

C: Tertiary benefits from the station being constructed should include connections between communities on both sides of the tracks. Connect communities and provide ways for children to safely walk to school.

C: A number of people work in the area and live just outside it, using transit to commute in. There is a hungry audience for multi-modal transit improvements. Options that are being proposed will create options for this area to keep growing and thriving. People will walk, use bikes and use transit if given the opportunity.

C: The proposed bike path on Sudbury is an issue with residents. Stakeholder groups have presented disinterest for this plan.

C: Driving in and out of Liberty Village is a challenge. Parking and wayfinding through the area pose a challenge for those unfamiliar with the area.

C: Connectivity has been an issue for years in Liberty Village. Planning can’t ignore the surrounding area. Construction on Dufferin causes spill over and affects outlying areas. Alternative options are limited in the area and many of the routes are already at capacity or over saturated.

C: Remember, the demographic landscape of the area will change before this project is completed. People who don’t live there yet will be moving into the area.

C: Liberty Village is a unique area of Toronto and is a hub of activities. Fort York, Exhibition Place, the Toronto Football Club and Argos and many events being held on the Exhibition Place grounds attract thousands of people in short amounts of time which overload the area. The uniqueness of the area needs to be considered in the planning process, including consideration for how the neighbourhood will accommodate the influx of people during special events. Planning and forecasting should anticipate options for handling sudden overflows.

What will the new stations mean for the future of your community and the transit network?

C: The bike and pedestrian connection over King Street is a great thing. We want to bridge the gaps between the north and south side. This is critical to the success of this station.

What issues or challenges may be encountered with the introduction of the new station in your community?

C: Consider widening sidewalks and adding directional signage to move towards Vision Zero (i.e., the City’s action plan focused on reducing traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries on Toronto’s streets).

C: Fare structures need to be revisited to allow for better fare integration between GO and Union Pearson Express. One idea is that a GO fare becomes a TTC fare once the GO train enters the boundaries of Toronto.

C: Traffic circulation and parking are concerns. There is no parking in the proposed station designs. This could lead to parking on side streets, including Joe Shuster. Side streets are usually backed up around events, and emergency vehicles and community members cannot get through.

C: This neighbourhood is a destination spot. The exhibition grounds, for example, are located nearby. This is why the parking is needed.
A:
There is no parking or traditional passenger pickup and drop-off area planned at this station. Access for Wheel Trans will be included.

C: The surrounding and connecting side streets are not large; the additional traffic is a concern for residents.

C: There are a number of safety issues as well. There is concern about the safety of the Exhibition GO tunnel. We need spacious and safe tunnels, with no blind corners. There is also a concern about safety: there are large crowds in the area during events.
A:
Metrolinx is working on ways to safely accommodate large numbers of people moving through this area, including making improvements to the Exhibition GO Station tunnel.

C: Tunnels are a problem at King Street because grade is an issue. Pedestrian volumes will increase; this needs to be handled. Increases in streetcar ridership will also need to be accommodated. Buses at Atlantic already have a hard time turning with volume of pedestrian traffic. The tunnel should come out on the south side.

C: Streetcar service is an issue in the area: they are already overloaded. Planners need to also consider people traveling through the area, not just those coming out of it.

How can the stations best be integrated into existing communities?

C: There needs to be more bike parking. Consider stacked parking or a bike room, like at Victoria Park Station. Standalone bike racks do not have enough capacity. Perhaps add additional bike sharing stations, as the one at Queen and Dovercourt is often empty.

C: From Dufferin to Sterling, and into Etobicoke, the bike paths are disjointed. There needs to be a continuous path that connects to this station.

C: Clear signage and wayfinding are very important, especially to manage the influx of passengers during large events.

C: The stations need washrooms and heated shelters. Food vendors are not necessary. The design of the station should thoughtfully represent the heritage of Liberty Village.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

C: There is support for having the Union Pearson Express stop at this station.

C: The name of the station is important and should connect with a sense of place.

C: There should be a large map of the entire system to see how individual stations connect into the wider whole, including the bike paths. 

Bloor-Lansdowne GO Station

Questions of clarification:

Q: What’s the difference between SmartTrack and GO from a functional perspective and in terms of capacity and frequency?
A:
SmartTrack builds upon RER – SmartTrack service will be integrated with GO service. The service plan is still being developed. The GO RER program includes all-day, two-way service with trains up to every 15 minutes. SmartTrack also plans to have more frequent service during peak periods, with trains every 6-10 minutes.

Q: Would the Barrie GO train service be increased in service?
A:
Yes, the RER plan is for service up to every 15 minutes both ways. Metrolinx is adding another track to the Barrie rail corridor to allow this to happen.

Q: Will this entail an increase in diesel trains?
A:
Metrolinx is planning for up to 36 train trips per day on the Barrie rail corridor before electrification, which will allow for an increase of up to 180 trains per day. New stations and electrification have similar timelines – completion by 2025.

Q: How will this work; will the tracks will be electrified?
A:
Different models are being examined for electrification, including electrified track via overhead catenary and hydrogen propulsion trains (hydrail), for which Metrolinx is completing a feasibility study.

C: We will need a pick-up and drop-off area. We want to encourage cycling and pedestrian access, but there will still be people driving up, taking cabs, and so on. With the Union Pearson Express, people are stopping randomly under the bridge on Bloor.

Q: Is it possible this station would be built before the electrification is done? The noise and pollution is a concern.
A:
Electrification and the station development are on a similar timeline (2025). On the Barrie rail corridor, Metrolinx is planning for up to 36 train trips per day before electrification, which will also for an increase of up to 180 trains per day.

The following questions were posed for consideration by the group:

What do we need to know about your community?

C: Sidewalk clearing is an issue. The connections between the proposed station and the TTC subway station will be inaccessible in winter without snow removal. This neighbourhood does not have the sidewalk under the rail underpass cleared in the winter. If there is no snow removal, it will be inaccessible. We need to know who is accountable for clearing the snow, and if there will be an underground connection.

C: The community is growing, there are new developments. The community is very diverse. There are a lot of young people and kids, as well as elderly people.

C: It is a multi-cultural and multi-lingual neighbourhood. We need to make sure communications and the station are multi-lingual.

C: This community has a diversity of work schedules. There is no distinct rush hour.

C: It is a walking and cycling neighbourhood too. Most people walk.

C: If there is any opportunity to build bike infrastructure along Bloor, under the underpasses, it should be explored.

C: This is also a heavy traffic area. Many homes are multi-vehicle. With the new condo on St. Helens, we are losing a great deal of parking on the street. There is no available parking in the neighbourhood. This area will be congested, high density with few options for traffic. There are times when traffic is backed up from Dundas and Bloor to Symington and Bloor. There are problems with left and right turns from Bloor onto Perth. From 4:00 pm on there is a great deal of congestions from Lansdowne to Dundas West. The new station could exacerbate the traffic situation.

C: The intersections of Sterling and Bloor and Symington and Bloor are terrible. Normalizing this intersection should be considered. This area will be an issue with increased traffic.

What will the new stations mean for the future of your community and the transit network?

C: Residents are concerned about the increased noise that will come with increased service. Train bells will be ringing continuously throughout the day.

C: We are pleased that the City and Metrolinx are exploring different walking and cycling path connections to the station. We are also pleased with the connection on Dora.

What issues or challenges may be encountered with the introduction of the new station in your community?

C: Passenger pick up and drop off areas must be well-marked. It would also be preferable to locate this on the side with no homes, where the Value Village is located.

C: The Dora entrance will cause more pedestrian and car traffic on St. Helens and other side streets. St. Helens is a narrow and very residential street; the residents will be impacted by this entrance. The sidewalk is also very narrow. This area will see many new pedestrians and vehicles.

C: There is an ongoing safety concern in the area. There is graffiti all over the underpass. Not street art, but graffiti. This is an ongoing concern.

C: There will be lights around the station – will these be bothering residents? Are they motion sensors? Further, if there is a tunnel we will require safety lighting. The whole station area must be well-lit, but shouldn’t be designed such that it bothers residents.

Q: Right now, there is a tall wooden fence on the west side of the corridor. Will this stay intact?
A:
The environmental assessment study will explore if noise mitigation (such as a noise wall) is warranted and feasible.

How can the stations best be integrated into existing communities?

C: The public realm is important. The station must not be an eyesore.

C: The cycling and pedestrian corridor under the underpasses along Bloor must be improved.

C: This new station will provide access to a great developing area, full of shops, galleries and breweries. It has the potential to open up the whole area to investment and improve the business along Bloor.

C: People who are trying to park and access GO will still face challenges. The station will need a vehicle loop on the Bloor side for drop offs. Sending vehicle traffic to the Dora entrance will be a nightmare.

C: Parking will remain an issue. People accessing the Union Pearson Express and Bloor GO Station often park in nearby private parking lots on the west side of Dundas. The City should explore working with owners of nearby parking lots (such as FreshCo) to make an arrangements for transit users. People already use nearby lots as parking; the City could formalize these informal solutions people have already discovered.

 Is there anything else you would like to add?

C: This area is still an employment zone (especially around Ubisoft). This transit connection will help these businesses attract new talent.

C: The station will also benefit youth in the area, providing access to York University from downtown.

C: Children will not use this station much. Many of the families in the area will have cars to move their children around.

C: An important issue will be construction. The noise, dust and traffic will compound existing traffic and problem areas. We will want to know how Metrolinx will mitigate the negative impacts of construction. Residents have construction fatigue – there are a lot of developments in the area. What benefit will Metrolinx offer to offset construction?

C: This development provides an opportunity to shift driving culture. Promoting and communicating that people don’t need to drive will help do this. The City and local stakeholders will need to get behind this culture change and public education campaign. All of this information would have to be multi-lingual as well.

C: There must be more garbage receptacles. Increased traffic means increased litter.

St. Clair-Old Weston SmartTrack Station

C: Please consider extending the West Toronto Railpath to St. Clair-Old Weston Station, or at least to Davenport Road, to facilitate cycling and pedestrian access to and from the station.

3. 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.

Participants were informed of the three public meetings:

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, including another meeting with the Stakeholder Advisory Groups. The focus of the next round of consultation will be refined station designs and an update on the environmental assessment process.