Thursday, October 12, 2017 | 6:30 – 8:30 pm
New Horizons Tower | 1140 Bloor Street West
James Perttula, City of Toronto
Stella Gustavson, City of Toronto
Mike Logan, City of Toronto
Liora Freedman, City of Toronto
Michael Hain, City of Toronto
Nish Bala, City of Toronto
Maria Doyle, City of Toronto
Alexa Aiken, City of Toronto
Khatija Sahib, City of Toronto
Robyn Shyllit, City of Toronto
Kurtis Elton, City of Toronto
David Brutto, City of Toronto
Heather Oliver, City of Toronto
Aviva Pelt, City of Toronto
Scott Pennington, City of Toronto
Ed Presta, City of Toronto
Shalin Yeboah, City of Toronto
Shannon McNeill, Metrolinx
James Francis, Metrolinx
Simon Strauss, Metrolinx
Manuela Istrate, Metrolinx
Georgina Collymore, Metrolinx
Gord Troughton, Metrolinx
Lubos Trcka, Metrolinx
Alexandra Goldstein, Metrolinx
Nadine Navarro, Metrolinx
Karla Avis-Birch, Metrolinx
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 King‑Liberty and St. Clair-Old Weston SmartTrack stations and the Bloor-Lansdowne and Spadina-Front GO stations. James Perttula, James Francis, Stella Gustavson and Simon Strauss 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 overview 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: The King-Liberty Station is important because there is no north-south rapid transit west of Spadina. North-south connectivity is essential. Also, fare integration must be affordable – especially for those travelling shorter distances. Could the Union Pearson Express eventually stop at more stations, such as King-Liberty?
A: The Regional Express Rail (RER) service plan is continually evolving. The initial business case for the RER program looks at the expansion of services and different service patterns. Whether the Union Pearson Express or other services will expand will be determined by Metrolinx as the RER and SmartTrack programs roll out. The initial business case is available on the Metrolinx website for reference. Fare integration is a component of SmartTrack and will help to encourage transfers between the TTC and the GO network.
Q: Is SmartTrack the same as RER?
A: SmartTrack is integrated with RER and expands on the work Metrolinx is undertaking with service expansion. You will not see two different types of trains. The distinguishing elements of SmartTrack are the additional stations in the GO corridors and fare integration between GO and the TTC.
Q: So they are going to be GO trains making more frequent stops?
A: That is correct. SmartTrack also includes the Eglinton West Light Rapid Transit (LRT) line.
C: The King-Liberty Station is very important to my community. I understand the proposed location for the station is off Sudbury Street. Our community is asking for a new location – next to the Metro grocery store. It makes more sense there. It avoids people traffic rushing across a busy King Street. My office has started a have a petition to move it, if anyone wants to support this position come by my office to sign it.
A: In terms of the ability to move the platform, there are a number of constraints in the area (e.g. track grading) that make it difficult to move. City and Metrolinx staff have been active in consulting with area residents regarding the arrangement and site planning of the station and will continue to do so. Metrolinx is committed to working with the City, the public and stakeholders to achieve a convenient, functional Liberty Village Smart Track station in the current location west of King Street West.
Q: Signal noise was a big issue with the Union Pearson Express Station. As we get more GO stations within the urban core, I am wondering how Metrolinx and the City will work with federal government to make bell noise less of an issue in the future.
A: There are federal regulations regarding the safety measures required when a train enters or exits a station. The City and Metrolinx are working with the federal government on addressing these issues.
Q: How will the connection between Lansdowne Subway Station and the new Bloor-Lansdowne Station work?The Bloor-Lansdowne station is located to the south of Bloor Street to achieve the grade required for the Davenport Diamond rail‑rail grade separation to the north of Bloor Street. The City and Metrolinx are examining possibilities to facilitate connections between the Lansdowne Subway Station and Bloor‑Lansdowne Station as the surrounding areas are redeveloped. The GO station is being designed to include connectivity to the Greenway Multi‑Use Path and the West Toronto Railpath.
C: Accessibility will be an issue in the interim construction. For example, pedestrian signals need to be improved and corrected, especially for people who are blind or partially-sighted. I want to ensure that this is built into construction contracts to ensure we have safe streets.
Q: Will the Barrie line terminate at Spadina-Front?
A: The Barrie rail corridor continues to Union Station. The Spadina‑Front station will be a new station along the corridor.
C: Accessibility is going to be a huge issue. There is an opportunity to address this.
C: I am excited to have more transit in this community. It is essential. We need the access.
A: This is an opportunity to look at proactive connectivity. Dundas West, Union Pearson Express, Lansdowne Station and Bloor-Lansdowne Station – they need to be connected. At St. Clair and Old Weston, it will be more of a challenge. There is development on a huge scale there, there is a revitalization that is happening. We need to look into the future. Please give us your absolute best in the Bloor community, and in the St. Clair community please look forward at what is coming.
Q: I expect Ontario to take some initiative on carbon. You are talking about dollar costs – what is the carbon footprint of these stations? What are the carbon savings of these plans? These questions are not being raised, nor being discussed. At least on subsequent rounds of consultation, you should do some carbon costing and share the information. We are in the age of climate change.
A: The environmental assessment will look at climate change. It is an expectation of the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change that both the effect of the stations on the climate be examined, as well as the effects of climate change on the station.
Q: Will the Union Pearson Express be stopping at any of these stations?
A: At present, there are no plans for the Union Pearson Express to stop at these stations. As GO service planning continues, and as attention shifts to future planning beyond this current expansion, this may be considered. It is not part of SmartTrack at this point.
Q: Will you be able to take a train directly through Union to go east-west? Or will I have to stop and change trains?
A: Through service at Union Station is part of the SmartTrack concept. The City is working with Metrolinx to see if this is possible to implement. Currently, the majority of Lakeshore trains pass through Union Station.
Q: The Bentway is between two proposed stations – is this being considered in the plans to integrate neighbourhood contexts with stations?
A: As station designs and concepts are being developed, this will be considered.
Q: At St. Clair-Old Weston Station, there are several roads and bridges being built. Do the costs of the stations include road improvements and bridges?
A: The City is coordinating with the St. Clair Transportation Master Plan work that is also underway. When the final report goes to City Council in the spring of 2018, it will discuss the cost of SmartTrack and the opportunities to advance other projects. However, the budget for SmartTrack and the other projects will be separate. The City will be looking at opportunities to advance other projects at the same time as station development, but the costs for these projects will not be part of the SmartTrack cost.
Q: Will SmartTrack be limited to these six stations? There is an opportunity for a station in the north of Toronto that could serve as a hub, and be near the airport.
A: The City is working on a number of projects to bring service to that area. Extensive discussions are being held with the airport regarding the transit hub as part of the Eglinton West LRT project. Public meetings relating to the LRT will be held later this year.
Q: SmartTrack and GO RER are exercises in city-building. At both the municipal and provincial level, we don’t have the funding to work on the other important projects. How will SmartTrack capture revenue to spend back on the community?
A: How SmartTrack will be financed could include tax increment financing as a result of transit investment. There are also discussions about cost-sharing arrangements as well. For example, at East Harbour Station, the City is in discussions with First Gulf which wants to build an employment hub. How other developments can complement the new stations is also being examined. The aim is to move toward better transit-oriented development.
C: Putting a SmartTrack stop at Dundas West Station could be advantageous. Dundas West would then have four important routes connecting to it – Line 2 subway, Union Pearson Express, the 504 King streetcar and the GO line.
C: Transit investment is good in any neighbourhood in Toronto. Residents will be thrilled and will benefit. However, I am concerned about political interference, as per the story that was in the Toronto Star about political interference at Metrolinx. I hope this process is fair and transparent.
Q: Would like some clarification around all day service – when trains end at 6:30pm, we do not consider this all day. What does all day mean?
A: RER will provide for expanded service on all GO-owned corridors with GO service. The frequency of the service will vary depending on the time of day and ridership demand. Metrolinx is currently working on the service planning for the stations.
C: How will Lansdowne Subway Station be integrated with Bloor-Lansdowne Station? I feel the first answer to this question, which was about some future development, was cavalier. I also know how difficult it is to get from Dundas West Station to the Union Pearson Express with a heavy suitcase. We need indoor, climate-controlled access between the TTC and the new SmartTrack stations. Without this, you do not have an integrated system. This is essential for accessibility reasons, passenger comfort and so on.
Q: The Scarborough Subway Extension Transit Project Assessment Process did not consider impacts on climate change. Can you guarantee this will be examined for these new stations?
A: Climate change related impacts will be examined during the Transit Project Assessment Process in order to meet Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change expectations. The Scarborough Subway Environmental Project Report did examine climate change and associated mitigation measures, in accordance with Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change expectations.
Q: Will the cost-sharing approach be applied to all stations?
A: In some cases, the stations are in areas where there is a great deal of development. The City is open to opportunities to incorporate the stations with development. As station planning and design advance, there will be a broader station area planning exercise to determine how best to coordinate with future development and identify potentially available opportunities.
Q: The increase in train traffic, noise, air pollution are concerns. Is the EA going to include a study of bell-ringing or other noise? This is already a concern in existing city stations.
A: The noise from bells will be examined in the environmental assessment.
Q: Is this entire plan contingent on electrification? If this is delayed or does not happen, will we still see an increase in service?
A: Station development and planning are not contingent on electrification. Metrolinx has made commitments regarding service levels on certain corridors (e.g. Barrie) pre‑ and post‑electrification that will be adhered to.
Q: My understanding is that Union Station cannot accommodate electrified trains? Will we rebuild Union so it can?
A: At present, the network cannot support electrified trains. The environmental assessment for electrification of the GO rail network is underway. The accommodations that need to be made for electrification are currently being explored at Union Station and along the corridors.
Q: The Toronto Star revealed that a report showed that Lawrence East Station will result in a net loss of riders and encourage people to drive. Why is there so much support for this station?
A: The City is working with Metrolinx on a review of Lawrence East (Lawrence‑Kennedy) Station.
Q: If we have a regime change in the province – and they cancel electrification – are we still going to have SmartTrack and RER? We do not want increased service with diesel trains.
A: The City and Metrolinx are moving ahead with the plan in place regarding network improvements and electrification. We do not want to offer comment on the next provincial election.
C: There has to be better integration of the subway station and SmartTrack. We would like an assurance that the frequency of trains will only increase once there is electrification. VIA trains do not ring bells as they rapidly pass through stations. This is a very strange situation where the VIA train is not required to ring its bell when passing through a station.
Q: Are there plans to extend the West Toronto Railpath to St. Clair-Old Weston Station or Mount Dennis Station?
A: No, there are no concrete plans to do so at the moment. This will be examined, and the City will work to see how far north the path could be extended. The City is looking at ways to extend the Railpath, and other multi-use pathways along the corridors, to improve connections.
Q: Why are we building Lawrence-Kennedy Station on the GO corridor and not a station on the Scarborough subway, which is costing us billions of dollars with only one station?
A: One of the things determined through the analysis of the Scarborough Subway is that ridership on Lawrence is heavily dependent on transit connections, and that there is a great opportunity for transit-oriented development around the Lawrence and Kennedy area around the SmartTrack Station. The cost of building the Lawrence-Kennedy SmartTrack station is also significantly less.
C: We need to explore the end goal of a single fare from anywhere in the region to anywhere else.
Q: The increase in service was dependent on electrification. Is this still the case? What is the order? Electrification first? Or service increases first?
A: Station development and planning are not contingent on electrification. Metrolinx has made commitments regarding service levels on certain corridors (e.g., Barrie) pre‑ and post‑electrification that will be adhered to.
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.