Stakeholder Advisory Group Meeting #2 Summary -
April 12, 2018

Date of Meeting: April 12th, 2018
Start Time: 6:30 p.m.
Project Name: Relief Line North
Location: York Mills Collegiate Institute, 490 York Mills Road, North York
Regarding: Relief Line North Stakeholder Advisory Group #2
Attendees: SAG Members, Metrolinx, City of Toronto, TTC, HDR, AECOM
Summary Prepared By: Lolia Pokima, AECOM

Overview

On Thursday, April 12th 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 the project team 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 a discussion session with question and answers (Q&A) periods, followed by a workshop on the corridor options. The summary below outline the questions, comments, and feedback received during the SAG meeting.

Attending

SAG Member Name

  • Grace Lennon - Donalda Club
  • Rick O’Connor - Yonge Lawrence Village BIA
  • Beverly Don - Yonge Lawrence Village BIA
  • Michael Singer - Novotel Hotel
  • Erik Kalm – Don Mills Residents Association
  • Yared Mchzenta - TTC Riders

Also in Attendance were:

Project Team Members

  • Devin Horne – Metrolinx
  • Lee Caragiale – Metrolinx
  • David Phalp – Metrolinx
  • Liora Freedman – City of Toronto
  • Nish Bala – City of Toronto
  • Paul Martin – City of Toronto
  • Conor Adami - 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.

Question and Answer (Q&A)

Q1: Has the project team considered using existing GO tracks for the Relief Line North (RLN)?
A1: Yes, Metrolinx will consider GO corridors for potential route alignment.

Q2: The idea of combining the Relief Line North and Relief Line South to make it one line was brought up earlier, does that imply that there will not be a change in transit technology along the route?
A2: That is still to be determined; part of the Project Team’s decision-making process is looking at which technology is optimal. There are a variety of scenarios that will be considered and the options will be scaled down through modeling and the performance of the transit technology on the preferred alignment.

Q3: What is the main objective of the RLN? It seems like one of the issues you are trying to solve is not just to relieve the existing line, but also traffic congestion in Toronto.
A3: The main goal of the RLN is to relieve congestion on existing rapid transit lines however we are considering a number of other objectives that can be accomplished with the line. This will be captured by using a combination of the City’s Rapid Transit Evaluation Framework and Metrolinx’s Business Case Framework to evaluate each of the short listed corridor options.

Q4: Can you please speak more on tunneling?
A4: The topic of tunnels came up during the discussion on transit technology and will depend on the preferred technology. Through the Relief Line South project assessment, subway was decided upon by Council as the preferred technology. The RLN is a continuation of that service. There are a number of scenarios Metrolinx can examine when determining transit technology. For example, the RLN could be subway up to Eglinton and then an LRT north from there, or subway all the way. The decision on transit technology will be made keeping in mind the high demand for transit in this area which grows higher by the day.

Q5: Can the same train go below and above grade?
A5: Yes it can, for example the subway trains on existing TTC lines operate at different grades at different points during the route and same with the Eglinton Crosstown now under construction.

Discussion 2 – 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?

SAG members were asked to inform the project team of their opinions on the provided station locations and corridor alignment.

Comments shared by SAG members included:

  • I love Option 6 because it provides a more convenient option for people coming from the east.
  • Option 5 provides access from the east to across Toronto without going so far south.
  • I like the Leslie Options (2 and 3) because they offer excellent connectivity to the GO corridor, GO stations and subway lines.
  • I think it is very important for The RLN to serve highly populated areas.
  • I am strongly against placing the line close to Finch Station (Option 1). There is already a transport hub that offers GO, Viva and TTC services. The Bayview corridor does not need to be improved.
  • I strongly believe the line should be placed in the portion between Danforth and Eglinton to serve priority communities like Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park. I would also strongly be in favour of rolling this section into the RLS project to get it built sooner.

Question and Answer (Q&A)

Q6: Is neighborhood and business disruption a key consideration in determining the corridor alignment?
A6: Disruption to existing properties, the environment and environmentally sensitive areas are considered in the evaluation process. The level of disruption depends on the transit technology that will be used and the grade it will operate on.

Q7: How do you plan to control potential environmental impacts that might arise during construction?
A7: When considering a corridor alignment that passes through environmentally sensitive areas, we will look at the potential to mitigate where possible or eliminate options based on these considerations. Phase 2 of the study is dedicated to detailed environmental studies that aim to minimize unexpected issues that might arise during construction.

Q8: When is construction expected to start?
A8: Provincial funding for the Relief Line North is currently in place to advance the planning and environmental assessment. It is anticipated that the appropriate environmental approvals, through the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP), will be received in early 2021. Upon completion of the TPAP, detailed design and engineering can then commence. Based on previous studies, we forecast that a new transit project that can relieve demand on Line 1 will be required by 2031 in order to maintain the resiliency and effectiveness of the region’s transit network.

Q9: Why isn’t there more efficient use of the existing CP line in the options provided?
A9: The main reason for this is that Metrolinx does not have ownership of the CP corridors, they are owned by Canadian Pacific (CP) for the movement of freight into and out of the City. There is a balance that has to be considered between moving people and moving goods.

Q10: If we are anticipating so much growth, why are we only building one line?
A10: There are a number of rapid transit lines currently being planned and under construction throughout Toronto. Transit demand is currently very high and the integration of the RLN and RLS comes down to the question of phasing. With the Relief Line South being almost shovel ready and Relief Line North in pre-planning stages, integration of the two services will be determined by how much relief and city building can be accomplished with the combination of these new lines.

Q11: Will the RLN be shovel ready in 2020?
A11: We expect to receive environmental approvals from the Province in early 2021; after that, detailed design and engineering can commence. However, there is no fixed timeline for when construction will begin. RLN is currently in the planning stage. A number of processes must be finalized before construction can begin.

Project Team: We are interested in your feedback on how far north the RLN should go.

SAG members: The RLN should be extended up to Steeles since that is Toronto’s boundary and maybe further in the future, connect to York region.

Q12: Will TTC services that venture into neighboring municipal boundaries operate on one fare or two fare systems?
A12: The City of Toronto, Metrolinx, the TTC and our transit partners across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) are working towards a consistent approach to transit fares in the region.

Q13: If the government really wants to encourage people to use public transit, they need to make it affordable. That's what happened with the Union Pearson express, as soon as the price came down the service really took off.
A13: The Province is currently looking into that and this year launched the discounted double fare between GO and TTC, where users pay a reduced $1.50 fare when they switch from local transit to a GO service and vice versa. The provincial government also recently announced a $3 GO fare for all travel within the boundaries of the city of Toronto.

Q14: I guess the further north the RLN extends the better, but I’m concerned about ridership and whether it is high enough to warrant the extension. We do not want a repeat of the Scarborough subway where the cost is really high and the ridership could not justify it.
A14: The project team is looking at growth up until 2041 to plan for the RLN in order to forecast the potential ridership.

Q15: How many people from the 905 come into Toronto for work every day?
A15: Metrolinx does not have the exact numbers here today. We will be punching the numbers and using our models at the City of Toronto and Metrolinx to forecast and predict what those numbers may look like coming into Toronto.

Meeting Adjournment

Liora Freedman (City of Toronto) thanked all SAG members for attending the meeting. SAG members were informed of the suggestion from the SAG meeting the previous evening (April 11 2018) to hold one combined SAG meeting going forward for all SAG members. SAG members at the April 12, 2018 meeting were receptive to this suggestion. SAG members were also acknowledged for thinking city wide — beyond their own businesses and residencies— and providing insightful comments.

The next SAG meeting date has not been determined.

No further comments or questions were raised.

The meeting was adjourned at 8.35 p.m.

 

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