Wednesday, October 11, 2017 | 6:30 – 8:30 pm
Riverdale Collegiate Institute | 1094 Gerrard Street East
James Perttula, City of Toronto
Stella Gustavson, City of Toronto
Liora Freedman, City of Toronto
Hans Riekko, City of Toronto
Maria Doyle, City of Toronto
Anne Marie Croce, City of Toronto
Paul Martin, City of Toronto
Khatija Sahib, City of Toronto
Kurtis Elton, City of Toronto
Nigel Tahair, City of Toronto
Kyle Knoeck, City of Toronto
Carly Bowman, City of Toronto
Shannon McNeill, City of Toronto
James Francis, Metrolinx
Manuela Istrate, Metrolinx
Georgina Collymore, Metrolinx
Nadine Navarro, Metrolinx
Laurence Lui, TTC
Jim Faught, LURA
Betty Kim, Argyle
Shirven Rezvany, Argyle
1. Opening Remarks and Overview
Jim Faught welcomed participants to the public meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the proposed new SmartTrack and GO stations, with specific focus on the Gerrard-Carlaw and East Harbour SmartTrack stations. James Perttula, Shannon McNeill, Stella Gustavson and Carly Bowman presented an overview of the project, an update on project progress and the evolving station concept, an overview of planned environmental studies and an overview of the planned consultation process.
2. Questions from Participants
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. Responses were provided by staff from the City, Metrolinx and TTC.
Q: There is a proposed tunnel on Pape in the Gerrard-Carlaw Station mock-up, could you speak a bit more about this? The drawing implies it is a cycle path.
A: The Pape underpass is planned to provide pedestrian and cyclist connectivity across the rail corridor. The underpass design is currently being refined.
Q: What will the cost of SmartTrack be? When it comes time to transfer to surface transportation, will it cost more?
A: The SmartTrack program includes fare integration. The details on how this will work are being negotiated between Metrolinx and the TTC. Last week the Mayor and the Premier made a co-fare announcement, which will reduce the cost of connecting between the TTC and GO or UP Express systems by $1.50. That is one step, but there is more that will be worked out, as fare integration is a core component of SmartTrack.
Q: You mentioned 50,000 new jobs, where are these coming from?
A: First Gulf has filed an application to develop a new employment node in the East Harbour area that will accommodate up to 50,000 new jobs at the Unilever Precinct. The up to 50,000 jobs is a projection of the employment potential of the site by First Gulf.
Q: The TPAP includes consultation, but there is no indication that the community is able to effectively impact engineering decisions or outcomes. Will you be open and transparent about what communities are asking for, and the reasons why they can’t get it?
A: The City and Metrolinx are seeking community input on how stations can best fit into your communities. This is broader than just the station and its design. Consultation will be an open process, and the conversation about community impact and fit will be ongoing through design and construction. In addition to public meetings, each planned new station in the City of Toronto has a Stakeholder Advisory Group/Committee that is involved in the planning of new SmartTrack and GO stations. There is also a City-wide Stakeholder Advisory Group providing input on City‑wide issues and opportunities. Summaries of public meetings and Stakeholder Advisory Group/Committee meetings will be posted on the City and Metrolinx websites for review.
Q: The Auditor General’s report raises questions about Metrolinx’s procurement with regard to Presto. There is indication from past practice that Metrolinx cannot manage procurement and contractors to effectively deliver and ensure implementation matches what was agreed to. Can we create better oversight over Metrolinx’s procurement practices?
A: Metrolinx is implementing all of the Auditor General’s recommendations. We are confident there will be no issues going forward with regard to procurement or managing vendors, and there is no need for additional oversight.
Q: What considerations have you made when it comes to climate change, environmental impacts or extreme weather? Could you please give this some thought and integrate it into your planning. We can’t assume a future with no flood, fires and other climate change related events.
A: The City of Toronto has just appointed a Chief Resiliency Officer, who will explore how the City can be prepared for floods and other climate events, and what we can learn from past experience. As transit planning moves forward, we are thinking about sustainability and reducing environmental impact in all our planning. The environmental assessment for the new stations will include an assessment of the effects of climate change on the stations.
Q: During the election, Mayor Tory talked about tax increment financing as a means to pay for SmartTrack. What is this and is this still the plan?
A: Tax increment financing is one method that is being explored to pay for the City’s contribution to SmartTrack. Provincial and Federal Government investment will be sought as well. Tax increment financing looks at the benefit that SmartTrack will bring, and taxes the incremental value growth caused by the station. Presently, we are not examining financing strategies. There is another stage of reporting to City Council next fall, and it is at that stage that financing strategy will be explored.
Q: Could you please elaborate on the Stakeholder Advisory Group?
A: The City-wide and local Stakeholder Advisory Groups are independent of one another, with no relationship or hierarchical reporting structure. Local Stakeholder Advisory Groups will focus on issues and opportunities that are within the respective local station area, whereas the City-wide Stakeholder Advisory Group will focus on issues and opportunities from across the City.
Q: Could you point me in the direction of an organization that works on the noise pollution? A recent study demonstrated that electric trains would not be much quieter.
A: Completed noise studies for other Metrolinx ongoing projects undergoing environmental assessments are available for review at the following links: (http://www.metrolinx.com/en/regionalplanning/rer/rer_work.aspx and http://www.gotransit.com/public/en/improve/environmentalassessments.aspx).
C: With the bridge over Pape, there have been situations where some youth intercept people and rob them. With the station design, safety and security must be considered and incorporated.
C: This area has a number of barriers. The crossing of the Don River is one barrier, another barrier is the berm that splits the neighbourhood in half. The station is a way to bridge the barriers – east and west and north and south. We hope that a multi-use path could be open 24/7, and that the station is fully integrated into the emerging cycling grid.
A: The aim is to make these types of pedestrian and cyclist connections around the City. At King-Liberty, for example, there will be an opportunity to extend cycling paths along the corridor. Gerrard-Carlaw is different, access like you described is a top priority.
C: There is an underpass in Monarch Park, the only one ever made by CN Railway. It was made for schools in the area. This could be used for access to the east to Coxwell. The walkway to the station that used to be at Coxwell is still there.
Q: There is often a significant distance between the SmartTrack stations and other transit stations, for example in East Harbour, there is a distance between SmartTrack and the proposed Relief Line station. What emphasis or plans are there for weather protected pathways for connections – for all stations?
A: Yes, this is being considered. As the land around the transit hub in East Harbour begins to develop, our expectation is to improve the public realm which may include above or below grade weather protected connections. These connections are top of mind as the stations are developed.
Q: What is the approximate timeline for East Harbour Station to be implemented?
A: The overall timeline for RER and SmartTrack improvements is anticipated to be 2025.
Q: By the time the trains get to the station they will be very full. Will there be separate runs inside Toronto to make it more of a City commuter train?
A: Metrolinx is currently working on the service planning for the stations. There will likely be a mix of all‑stop and limited‑stop commuter trains. The service strategy will be developed within the next year or two.
Q: What will the boundaries be for tax-increment financing in this area? What sort of developments will be built around this area?
A: There needs to be consideration about what will be built around the stations. This will not always be residential, some will be employment lands, and in other areas there will be mixed-use developments. In each community, we need to work with local Councillors and the community to understand the community needs.
Q: What do you have for the businesses affected during the process, impacts on local business? Loss of revenue is a risk.
A: Construction mitigation plans will be developed to reduce impacts. An example of this is the Eglinton Crosstown project. The City works with local businesses and business improvement areas to reduce negative impacts to businesses. One initiative of the Eglinton Crosstown project is the development of a community benefits agreement which aims to provide local benefits, local hiring and apprenticeship programs – among other benefits.
C: I live next to the rail line. The intention is to run trains during peak hours every 6 minutes, and to run trains during off-peak hours every 15 minutes. If it’s 24/7, I can’t see the need to run people into the City at 3 a.m.
A: The service start and end times are not planned to change, instead the frequency within these times will be increased. There will not be overnight service.
Q: Quality of life for residents and businesses is affected by the noise – additional trains and construction work. The noise protocol that Metrolinx uses is dated from 1995. Toronto Public Health stated that the health effects from noise and vibration have gone over and above safe levels. There are areas where sound barriers have been found infeasible. What about the near constant noise during frequent service?
A: Metrolinx’s current protocol only requires mitigation if there is a noise increase of 5 decibels over current levels. However, Metrolinx is looking at ways of reducing noise at source. Methods being examined include: rail dampeners, rail lubrication, and looking at the specifications when new electric trains are procured to reduce noise profiles. Further information will be provided on noise mitigation as it becomes available.
3. Wrap up and Next Steps
Participants were informed of other ways to give feedback – including a dedicated email address, comment forms and project website.
Over the coming months, the City of Toronto, Metrolinx and TTC will:
- Refine station concept plans
- Study existing environmental conditions
- Natural environment
- Socio-economic environment
- Cultural environment
- Examine potential impacts and mitigation measures
The next round of public and stakeholder consultation will be held early next year.