Stakeholder Advisory Group Meeting #1 Summary -
April 11, 2018

Date of Meeting: April 11, 2018
Start Time: 6:30 p.m.
Project Name: Relief Line North
Location: Thorncliffe Banquet Hall, East York Town Centre, 45 Overlea Boulevard, Toronto
Regarding: Relief Line North Stakeholder Advisory Group #1
Attendees: SAG Members, Metrolinx, City of Toronto, TTC, HDR, AECOM
Summary Prepared By: Lolia Pokima, AECOM

Overview

On Wednesday, April 11th, 2018, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., the City of Toronto, along with their partners Metrolinx and the TTC hosted a Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) meeting for the Relief Line North. The purpose of the SAG is to provide an opportunity for interested key stakeholders to discuss opportunities, concerns, needs, issues and risks related to the Relief Line North.

The objectives of this meeting were to:

  • Inform and educate community leaders about the project;
  • Provide community leaders the opportunity to ask questions of project team members and discuss the project with other community leaders;
  • Solicit advice, address concerns and incorporate input from community leaders into the study;
  • Distribute information about the project process and other engagement opportunities to organizations and members of the public; and
  • Present draft public material for comment.

The format of the meeting included a presentation and three discussion sessions with question and answers (Q&A) periods, followed by a workshop on design options. The summary below outline the questions, comments and feedback received during the SAG meeting.

Attending

SAG Member Name

  • Steve Munro – Transportation Blogger
  • Leslie Dominico - Civic Action
  • Jason Ash – Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office
  • Amir Sukhera – Employment Specialist
  • Khaled Ahmad - Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office
  • Suleman Khan

Also in Attendance were:

Project Team Members

  • Becca Nagorsky – Metrolinx
  • Lee Caragiale – Metrolinx
  • Devin Horne – Metrolinx
  • Liora Freedman – City of Toronto
  • Nish Bala – City of Toronto
  • Paul Martin – City of Toronto
  • Scott Haskill – TTC
  • Malcolm MacKay –TTC
  • Tyrone Gan – HDR
  • Lauren Reaman - AECOM
  • Lolia Pokima – AECOM

Introduction and Presentation

Devin Horne (Metrolinx) and Liora Freedman (City of Toronto) opened the meeting, introduced themselves, provided an overview of the agenda and invited all attendees to introduce themselves by providing their name, the group(s) they represent and their objectives for the SAG.

The following topics were covered:

  • Introduction of the Project Team and background of the Relief Line North;
  • Introduction of the study, study area and the problem/opportunity statement;
  • An opportunity for feedback on the preliminary long list of alignments and station locations; and,
  • An opportunity for feedback on the evaluation criteria.

Questions & Answer

Q1: Do you have the capacity for online surveys?
A1: Yes we do, there is one currently live on the website (relieflinenorth.ca).

Q2: How do you plan on attracting a broader representation of people from local neighborhoods at the public meeting?
A2: The next SAG meeting is on April 12th 2018 at York Mills C.I. and we have public meetings planned at three locations that are spread throughout the study area. The public meeting notices are also being translated into multiple languages and being sent out by local elected officials, through social media and posted in key newspapers and at key TTC stations within the study area. We are also hoping to tap into SAG members’ networks to help spread the word.

Discussion 1 – Study Area Map

SAG Members were asked to identify areas within the study area where they travel and where they have difficulty getting to using blue and red dots on a roll out map.

Question, Comments and Answer (Q&A)

Q3: Will TTC route 81 (Thorncliffe Park) be eliminated?
A3: The City, Metrolinx, and TTC have currently made no decisions on that. Bus routes will be analyzed during the process and a determination will be made at a later date.

SAG member: The size of and congestion at the Don Mills and Eglinton intersection even prior to the Crosstown construction does not make it a convenient location to transfer transit services. If I don’t have to go there I will avoid it. My perspective from growing up in this area is that it is well serviced by public transit and a subway addition will be wonderful. Getting anywhere south is great (efficient and reliable) as well as north but travel along the Eglinton axis is less than ideal.

SAG member: It currently takes me 2 hours to get to work at the Ontario Food Terminal from Thorncliffe using the TTC 300, 325 and 315 routes. A lot of people from Thorncliffe also make this commute; please consider providing earlier subway trips (around 5 a.m.). The subway – Bloor line, opens at 6 a.m. and is always highly congested.

SAG member: When determining the optimal station locations, consider that the bus network will be reorganized to serve those stations. The process should be more iterative and ensure that the station location enables a logical reorganization of the bus network.

SAG member: When configuring the station locations and corridor alignment, keep bus route servicing and connectivity as a key consideration. It is important to ensure that the inclusion of a subway does not create a surface transit desert.

Q4: Much like the TTC route 81 bus have you considered running route 25 through Thorncliffe?
A4: The 81 Thorncliffe is essentially a short-turn branch of the 25 Don Mills right now; we have actually considered running the 25 along Thorncliffe Park Drive but discovered that it takes too many people too far from their destinations.

Discussion 2 – Potential Station Areas Map

SAG Members were asked to identify their station location preferences on a potential station locations map. They were given directions to place green dots on or beside the station locations they would use.

Questions & Answers

Q5: What is the rationale for the station location of option G (Overlea Blvd. and Don Mills Rd.)?
A5: The intent wasn’t to be prescriptive but rather to look at what areas should be served by stations. In this stage, we will do a high level evaluation of the long list of station areas to narrow down the options based on impacts and potential mitigation to natural heritage areas, environmentally sensitive areas, parkland and/or open spaces, flood plains and land uses.

SAG member: In Flemingdon Park, around Eglinton and Don Mills, a stop south of St. Dennis would be beneficial to the community.

Q6: Could you please talk a little more about SmartTrack and if and where it would impact potential station locations.
A6: South of Danforth Ave there are two (2) SmartTrack/GO stations that are being added at East Harbour and at Gerrard-Carlaw on the Lakeshore East GO line. There will also be the addition of two (2) SmartTrack/GO stations in Scarborough at Finch-Kennedy and at Lawrence-Kennedy to the Stouffville GO Line. Through both the transportation modelling and the evaluation process, potential influences and/or impacts to the transportation network as a whole, including the future SmartTrack/GO Stations, will be analyzed.

Q7: Is this a TTC project?
A7: Metrolinx, together with the City of Toronto and TTC, are advancing plans for the Relief Line North. Metrolinx is leading the northern portion of the study and the City is leading the southern portion.

Q8: When the project is launched will it have the same fare as the TTC?
A8: For modelling purposes, our assumption is that people will be able to ride the RLN with a TTC fare. Note also that there is ongoing work around fare integration in the region.

Q9: At what point in the process do you start to present obstacles that might impact station locations?
A9: During our next step, we will do a high level evaluation of the long list of station areas to narrow down the options based on impacts and potential mitigation.

Discussion 3 – Long List of Options Activities

In this activity, SAG members were provided with six (6) potential corridor options and encouraged to share comments, concerns and answer the following questions:

  • What do you think about the potential corridor options?
  • Are there any other corridors or changes to the potential corridors you would like us to consider?
  • Is there anything else we should know?

Questions & Answer

Q10: During the public meetings, would you consider including the road and street network in maps so attendees can better orient themselves and also highlight key destinations for people not familiar with the street layout?
A10: Great suggestion! Those changes will be addressed.

Q11: Is the benefit for option 3 that there is a greater opportunity for alignment with other stations?
A11: Option 3 looks at potentially using the existing Richmond Hill GO Train corridor and allows for additional flexibility in finding an alignment. It also provides an opportunity to look at the potential of optimizing the Richmond Hill corridor through the study area.

Q12: Will Option 4 eliminate the 185 bus?
A12: Option 4 would likely replace the need for the 185 Don Mills Rocket, but further analysis would be carried out to ensure that the best service is made available to customers in this corridor.

SAG Member: Option 4 is my preferred route; it hits all major stops – including Science Centre.

SAG Member: If a Queen Street station location is chosen, it should be designed to preserve the opportunity for an easterly extension of the subway system towards and into Scarborough.

Q13: Will RLN decrease cars going north towards Newmarket?
A13: One of the goals of RLN is to reduce auto use across the City. The Project Team’s is aiming to get a better understanding of this through the transportation modelling portion of this study, which will begin shortly after this series of public meetings.

Q14: Is it fair to say that more stops will serve more people?
A14: That is a general statement, but yes, having more stations potentially means better coverage and you can be within closer reach of more people. However, this needs to be balanced with travel times.

Q15: Just showing alignments of stations does not completely explain the context of what is currently there and growth possibilities. When explaining station alignments at the Public meetings consider bringing City plans that show areas expected to intensify since a subway line through those locations reinforces.
A15: Great suggestion! Supplementary maps showing topics such as population and employment density will be provided at the PIC to allow attendees to discuss the context of the study area and the growth of the region.

Q16: When considering alignments there needs to be recognition of where the people you are trying to intercept are coming from as opposed to determining what the traffic flow is today and what you want it to look like.
A16: We agree, this information will be identified through transportation modelling during the next phase of the study where we review the long list of corridor options.

Project team: We have arrows pointing north in some of the options, will you be willing to consider extending the RLN north of Sheppard?

SAG members: Yes, but consider connectivity and growth potential as key criteria when selecting a station location.

Q17: What is the exact objective of RLN, is it to relieve congestion of Line 1 or provide more coverage for users?
A17: The RLN study will work to provide a project that will relieve congestion, improve our experience, health and environment, connect people and places, and grow with the region. Council direction includes a requirement to provide relief to the congestion on Line 1 (Yonge).

SAG Member: There is a popular notion that subways are primarily built for speed, please ensure that the rationale for RLN does not become dominated by the speed argument and result in the elimination of station locations. This will be detrimental to city building potential and walkability of neighborhoods.

Project team: There are a lot of factors to balance for this Project and our evaluation process will take into account city-building, walkability, as well as travel times and experience.

Q18: Will construction of RLN potentially affect the natural heritage features at the Don Valley River?
A18: It depends on the alignment that is chosen. Some of these corridor options have a number of Don River crossings while others have only one. The goal is to have as minimal impact on the environment as possible. Mitigation to potential impacts will be considered through the environmental approval process.

Meeting Adjournment

The project team thanked all SAG members for attending the meeting. SAG members offered to spread awareness about RLN by posting content about the project on their independent websites and contacting and inviting people from their networks such as newcomers/immigrants to the next SAG meeting. SAG members also suggested having one larger SAG meeting instead of two separate ones at an easily accessible location.

No further comments or questions were raised.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:35 p.m.