Over 100 people attended the meeting which was an add-on by Councillors Nunziata and DiGiorgio to the relatively small number of information meetings held throughout the City. In addition to the councillors, MPP Laura Albanese and MP Ahmed Hussen were there.
MP Hussen stated that the Liberals plan to quadruple infrastructure spending and will respect local initiatives and not micromanage. He has put forward a Private Member’s bill to ensure that hiring needs are met so that local communities benefit through jobs and contracts when infrastructure money is spent.
Speaker 1 was James Perttula: Program Manager, Transportation Planning at City of Toronto. Speaker 2 was Jamie Robinson from Metrolinx.
Rather than bore you, dear readers, with the contents of their monologues, the information they presented is largely available through the links below.
The rest of this article will attempt to focus on significant questions posed by residents – these are more relevant to the Weston and Mount Dennis communities. Where answers were given, these have been noted.
Questions / Concerns:
Employment opportunities – Metrolinx has requested a community liaison plan from their contractor Crosslinx Transit Solutions that will be finalized soon. MP Hussen requested some hard figures regarding employment levels.
Is SmartTrack Planning route through Weston to Rexdale. Metrolinx is looking at a number of additional stations so it’s possible that a Woodbine station could be built.
Back-up power station. MP Hussen expressed concern to Jamie Robinson about emission levels. The station is designed to run on natural gas not diesel and so will not be so dirty. Modern non-polluting battery technology has not been considered. Jamie says he is totally open to alternatives. With that in mind, I have sent Mr Robinson this link. Other residents asked about a green energy supply instead. Mr Robinson countered solar would be totally inadequate to supply enough energy.
Parking at the new Mount Dennis Station. No plans at the moment for a parking lot – residents expressed concern about outsiders parking in the area and causing obstructions. The plan is that people will access the Crosstown by bus.
Another resident likes the Crosstown but thinks the number of stops should be reduced. Did not like the Scarborough subway, should be LRT instead.
This is a demographically poor area – will there be a zone system for fares on the new line? How far will money go in the new system? Answer the Crosstown will be integrated with the rest of the TTC system.
Another resident wondered about the jobs that 960 will be lost in the TTC due to Presto automation. Councillor DiGiorgio surmised that ticket collector jobs may disappear but employees would probably be retained and assigned elsewhere.
Concern about the timeline and completion date and related construction. The answer is that work will continue until the planned opening in September 2021. Councillor Nunziata pointed out that if the original subway plan had been implemented in 1995 we wouldn’t be having a problem with traffic today.
TTC is too slow and expensive. 20 km is considered local – why can’t people take the bus to the library without being charged the same as someone who travels 20km?
The LRT is going to cross Eglinton – why won’t the LRT move north through the spectacular station at Weston and service people along a loop to Rexdale. Answer: Additional stations are foreseen on the existing lines so that the enhancements that GO Transit is making will provide additional service to residents. This will likely not be at subway frequencies.
Are you going to build out the fourth track as part of SmartTrack? A: Trying to determine what infrastructure is required.
Is the problem that you can’t build the fourth track north of the 401 because of limited space – I thought that there would be room for four tracks but only three have been built. Is it that simple or would an expansion be impossible because the 401 is in the way?
Concerns that there will be express trains and local trains that would need an extra line.
An extra CP track has been negotiated. Is this true? You talk about the need for consultation but in practice you don’t – the generator and now the transformer have been sprung on the community without notice. A: We are committed to consulting with the community. The transformer will be located next to the generating facility. The generator idea came from Crosslinx Transit Solutions – we had originally planned to have two separate connections to the electrical grid – it’s not carved in stone. “If the community doesn’t want it it won’t be built.”
Future of Eglinton Flats – what will happen there – how will transit impact the flats? A: Not answered.
Concern about Bombardier’s inability to supply trains on time as with the TTC streetcars. A: We’re confident that all issues will have been sorted out by the time the trains are needed.
We need to know what emissions will be given off from the generator? A: Agree that it’s very important – the Ministry of the Environment will decide whether emissions are appropriate for the area.
What about parking? – we need parking lots. A: (from Councillor Nunziata) when the development starts, then the city will come forward with the planning department and set up parking.
Q: What about continuing along Eglinton and turning up Highway 27? A: The Airport Authority is thinking of creating a transit hub at the Airport.
Q: Would love to take the UP Express to the subway with an integrated fare – it’s still expensive. Would like to see connections to mid-town rather than to downtown. A: We’re working on fare integration between TTC and GO. We’re also looking at fare integration across the GTHA but we recognize that the differences in fares are a disincentive to using transit.
Nobody wants the above ground section of the Crosstown, why not build it all underground?
We need to have commitments for frequency of use, hours of operation etc. We need to have a broader governing commission for all transit. What about green stations that provide their own electricity through solar?
How will light rail work along Eglinton past Scarlett – will there be room to put it there? A: We have sufficient space along the corridor already to put the LRT tracks plus cycle path / trail. It would be similar to St. Clair except there will be two traffic lanes in either direction.
What are implications of putting the LRT tracks down one side rather than in the middle. A: Current plan is to run it down the centre. Also looking at looking at ways to mitigate traffic impacts.
Who are the private partners? Will there be an intensification and if so, why aren’t builders not paying more of the costs to provide transit? After all, they get money in their pockets. Also building parking lots simply encourages to bring cars into the area and park throughout the neighbourhood. A: (councillor Nunziata) Developers pay charges when they put up buildings.