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City Council approves 15-year transit plan, other Toronto transit proposals



At a marathon meeting of Toronto City Council last week, councillors approved the City’s 15-year transit plan, pushing several future transit proposals further along their journey from the drawing board to reality. Council also nodded in favour of several other transit schemes during the four-day session from Tuesday, July 12 to Friday, July 15.

For many of these projects the City either has no funds or not enough funds to complete them without further sources of revenue. The Councillors also approved several staff recommendations on ways to overcome this shortfall, including cost-sharing with the provincial and federal governments.

Their decisions affect:


Scarborough Subway

In its most contentious move, Council decided to give the “go-ahead” for the one-stop, express subway, extending the 2 Bloor - Danforth line from Kennedy Station to Scarborough Centre. The City proposed building the subway under Eglinton Avenue East and McCowan Road.

Scarborough subway construction 1.png

This map illustrates the route that City planners intend for the subway extension.

The City, provincial and federal governments have all dedicated funding to the longer subway line — and Toronto taxpayers are paying a small levy on their property-tax bills to support the extension — but the budget to complete this line continues to exceed the funds available by at least $1 billion.

Councillor Josh Matlow led a group of councillors who argued the cost was excessive for the number of riders that this single-stop underground line would attract. Matlow and others urged the city to return to a previous plan that would, instead, replace the current 3 Scarborough rapid transit line with a light rail transit line, that would also extend service to Scarborough Centre and further north and east to Centennial College’s Progress campus and the southern edge of the Malvern community at Sheppard Avenue East. However, Matlow’s motion failed to attract the majority of votes at council.

Council’s decision likely strikes a final nail in the coffin of the LRT plan.

By approving the Scarborough subway extension, council also authorized City or Toronto Transit Commission staff to:

  • work with the Province of Ontario and Metrolinx to complete any remaining technical and planning analysis and start the formal environmental assessment / transit project assessment process, as provincial statutes require;
  • retain a third-party rail-transit construction and cost expert to:
  • review the TTC’s five-percent design cost estimates for the McCowan corridor and other possible express subway alignment options;
  • estimate the costs for a subway route along the Scarborough rapid transit right of way, routing the subway track on the surface or above ground, from a point just south of Lawrence Avenue East; and
  • prepare an environmental project report to start a formal transit project assessment process for the project, as provincial statutes require.
  • redesign Kennedy Station to improve connections between various transit lines, including the extensions to the Crosstown LRT and the 2 Bloor - Danforth subway; and
  • consult with Metrolinx in preparing a business case analysis for the entire Scarborough Transit plan, including the eastern extension of the Crosstown LRT.

It also directed staff to rule out any further plans to locate a subway-construction work site in the Frank Faubert Woodlot on the northwest corner of Ellesmere and McCowan Roads.

Scarborough Subway potential corridor.png

At this meeting, Council put alignment SRT2 back on the table.

Relief Line

Council approved the proposed Pape / Queen / Eastern alignment — except for one section — and directed City or TTC staff to:

  • work with Metrolinx to confirm which station locations would best allow passengers to transfer between the Relief Line and SmartTrack / regional express rail trains, including any future extensions of the line;
  • further assess a route further west from Pape Avenue north of the GO Transit tracks to Eastern Avenue, including a station at Queen Street East and Carlaw Avenue, instead of Queen East and Pape;
  • consult with local Councillor Paula Fletcher to develop an outreach plan to review route options with stakeholders including nearby residents, business owners and other City staff;
  • return to council to recommend the best route and then prepare an environmental project report to start a formal transit project assessment process for the project, as provincial statutes require;
  • develop an agreement with Metrolinx and the provincial government to advance the next phases of planning and design for the line, including extending it north to Sheppard Avenue and west to the 2 Bloor - Danforth subway line; and
  • assess potential impacts resulting from tunneling and building stations and identify ways to reduce those impacts on private property owners.

EQ.jpg

This was the relief line route that staff recommended. Councillors want staff to review an alternate route south of the GO Transit tracks under Carlaw Avenue, instead of Pape Avenue.

Eglinton - Crosstown LRT - eastern extension

Eglinton East LRT Picture2.png

Council asked City and TTC staff to

  • work with Metrolinx and the University of Toronto to advance planning of the LRT extension to at least five percent design;
  • redesign Kennedy Station to improve connections between various transit lines, including the extensions to the Crosstown LRT and the 2 Bloor - Danforth subway; and
  • possibly redesign Military Trail through the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus; and
  • identify requirements for the next phase of the line, extending it from U of T Scarborough to Malvern.Eg_East_military_alignment_v2 3.png
Eglinton - Crosstown LRT - western extension

Council confirmed that this project would replace the original SmartTrack proposal to operate heavy-rail trains in this corridor. The extended line would include eight to 12 stations between Mount Dennis and Renforth Gateway and “grade separations” (bridges) at key intersections. Council requires City and TTC staff to:

  • work with the Province of Ontario and Metrolinx to complete any remaining technical and planning analysis and start the formal environmental assessment / transit project assessment process, as provincial statutes require;
  • work with Metrolinx, the City of Mississauga and the Greater Toronto Airport Authority to further develop options for extending the line between Renforth Gateway and Toronto Pearson International Airport and examine opportunities for providing parking for LRT passengers;
  • review the costs of building grade separations for the line at Martin Grove Road, Kipling Avenue, Islington Avenue, Royal York Road and Eglinton Flats.

Eglinton West LRT_featured_800wide.png

This was the route that the Province of Ontario approved for the line in 2007.

SmartTrack

Mayor John Tory’s “overground” subway proposal for local rapid transit mostly along GO Tranist corridors is gradually disappearing into Metrolinx plans for regional express rail service.

Nevertheless, Council endorsed two key parts of the original plan:

  • frequent regional express rail service along GO’s Stouffville, Lakeshore East and Kitchener rail corridors with new stations at Finch East, Lawrence East, the “Unilever” site (roughly, Eastern and Broadview Avenues), Liberty Village and St. Clair West; and
  • replacing the original plan for a heavy rail line along Eglinton Avenue West with an extension of the Eglinton Crosstown light rail transit line between Mount Dennis and Renforth Gateway and, possibly, beyond.

scarborough-subway-plan1.jpg

This map of Scarborough shows plans for the Scarborough subway and Crosstown LRT extensions — and SmartTrack. (Metrolinx and the City have now agreed to delete the Ellesmere SmartTrack station). (Image: City of Toronto)

Waterfront “reset”

City Council instructed City, TTC and WATERFRONToronto staff to:

  • further develop and cost various route options and analyze transit operations and ridership for those options;
  • identify priority segments and create strategies for co-ordinating various waterfront transit plans;
  • report back to Council on the results of phase two of their work in narrowing down options, prioritizing segments and developing costs;
  • extend streetcar service from Exhibition Loop to Dufferin Gate Loop; and
  • co-ordinate plans for building the new streetcar tracks with plans for replacing the Dufferin Street bridge over the Gardiner Expressway.

7092_test_study_map_1_870_450_both_.png.jpg

Cost-sharing and funding

Council authorized City staff to:

  • negotiate cost-sharing and intergovernmental funding arrangements with the Province of Ontario for:

    1. implementing SmartTrack as part of the regional express rail program;
    2. extending the Eglinton Crosstown light rail transit line along Eglinton Avenue East;
    3. extending the LRT along Eglinton Avenue West;
    4. operating and maintaining all Metrolinx LRT projects in Toronto; and
    5. maintaining municipal utilities and infrastructure within Metrolinx-owned rail corridors.
  • negotiate a funding agreement with the Government of Canada so that the federal government would contribute to costs resulting from implementing SmartTrack components — including the regional express rail program and the western LRT extension along Eglinton West — and the Scarborough transit network — including the “Scarborough subway” extension and the eastern LRT extension along Eglinton East;

  • include more planning and designing for SmartTrack, the Eglinton West LRT, the “Scarborough subway” extension, the Eglinton East LRT extension and the relief line, as part of the priority list of projects that City will submit to the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario for funding under phase one of the Federal Public Transit Infrastructure Fund;
  • fully fund an Eglinton East LRT capital sub-project, with approval for a 2016 cash flow of $3 million and a 2017 cash flow of $4 million for a total of $7 million, to advance the Eglinton East LRT design to five percent;
  • request funding as part of the City’s 2017 budget process for extending streetcar service from Exhibition Loop to Dufferin Gate Loop; and
  • work with TTC staff to determine whether the City and its transit agency should create a separate office to co-ordinate, analyze and implement the City’s multi-billion dollar transit expansion initatives.
Other transit issues

Council also decided to ask the Province of Ontario to confirm the timing for delivering the approved Sheppard East light rail transit line, since both the province and Government of Canada have already committed funding for the under the Building Canada Fund and the 2012 Toronto - Metrolinx Light Rail Transit Master Agreement, to inform transit network planning and business case analysis for Scarborough’s future transit network.

It endorsed the Province of Ontario’s plan to build a new freight corridor that will allow most freight trains to by-pass the Bramalea-to-Georgetown section of the Kitchener GO corridor (The Missing Link) and routing them away from Toronto. (This plan will allow Metrolinx to improve the Milton, Kitchener and Richmond Hill lines and possibly build new lines to Bolton, Seaton Village and Peterborough and the “Midtown” line across north-central Toronto.) An upcoming Transit Toronto post will detail this proposal.

It formally approved closing for the long-term several streets near Eglinton Crosstown LRT construction sites:

  • westbound lanes of Eglinton Avenue West between William R. Allen Road to east of Strathearn Road (between Cedarvale and Forest Hill stations) from July 18 (2016) until July 31, 2018;
  • the eastbound curb lane of Eglinton Avenue East between west of Don Avon Drive and Laird Drive (near Laird Station) from July 18 until February 29, 2020;
  • Oriole Parkway north of Eglinton West (between Avenue and Eglinton Stations) from July 18 until December 31, 2020;
  • the westbound curb lane of Eglinton West between east of Braemar Avenue and Avenue Road (near Avenue Station) from July 18 until December 31, 2020;
  • the two most northerly westbound traffic lanes of Eglinton West between east of Avenue Road and Lascelles Boulevard (near Avenue Station) from July 18 until December 31, 2020;
  • Park Hill Road at Eglinton West (between future Oakwood and Cedarvale stations) from July 18 until December 31, 2021; and
  • Rawlinson Avenue at Eglinton East (just east of Mount Pleasant Station) from July 18 until December 31, 2021.
  • the westbound side of Eglinton Avenue East between Dunfield Avenue and Cowbell Lane (near Eglinton Station) from September 1 until April 30, 2018;
  • the southbound curb lane of Mount Pleasant Road at Eglinton East (near Mount Pleasant Station) from September 1 until December 31, 2020;
  • east- and westbound curb lanes of Eglinton West between Times Road and Oakwood Avenue (between Fairbank and Oakwood stations) from December 1 until January 31, 2021; and
  • eastbound lanes of Eglinton West and East between Duplex Avenue and Holly Street from June 1, 2017 until December 1, 2018 (near Eglinton Station).

And, it approved installing temporary traffic signals to help pedestrians cross the street safely during construction:

  • on Eglinton Avenue East west of Don Avon Drive (near Laird Station) from July 18 until January 31, 2020;
  • on Eglinton Avenue West west of Braemar Avenue (near Avenue Station) from July 18 until December 31 2020; and
  • on Eglinton West west of Alameda Avenue from December 1 (between Oakwood and Cedarvale Stations) until January 31, 2021.

In discussing these and other items on its agenda, Councillors also considered other transit matters, directing staff to:

  • work with Metrolinx to consider the feasibility of a Woodbine GO Station on the Kitchener line and identify private partners that might contribute to the new station. (The new station would support potential future development in the area.)
  • negotiate a co-fare system with Metrolinx, similar to that in place for other area municipalities, for GO Transit services in Toronto.
  • as part of part of phase 2 of the transit plan, report to Council’s Executive Committee by the first quarter of 2017 on the cost and potential routes for
  • extending the 2 Bloor - Danforth subway line further west to Sherway Gardens;
  • extending the 4 Sheppard subway east from Don Mills Station to connect with the extended 2 Bloor - Danforth line at Scarborough Centre Station.
  • extending the 4 Sheppard subway west from Sheppard - Yonge Station to connect with the western arm of the 1 Yonge - University line at Downsview Station.
  • in light of the fact that Ontario’s Minister of the Environment will likely approve a rail overpass across the Davenport Diamond on GO’s Barrie line, continue negotiating with Metrolinx to secure a new GO station near Bloor Street West and Lansdowne Avenue, a community improvement plan for the nearby neighbourhood, a multi-use path to connect with the West Toronto Railpath and a strategy to improve rail corridor at Dupont Street.
  • report to Executive by the last quarter of 2016 to report to Executive “on the financial and logistical conditions imposed by Metrolinx that the City ‘provide accessible, weather-protected, pedestrian connection to Lansdowne Subway Station’ [from the new GO station] and on the potential solutions to finance the investment needed to make this connection…”
  • discuss with Metrolinx and Transport Canada how to identify best practices and possible solutions for allowing train operators to avoid using bells or whistles when their locomotives are entering and exiting passenger rail stations.

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