Revisiting The Waterfront

Toronto’s election is now in full swing.  Testy candidates fling mud and announce what passes for platforms.

On the transit front, the three big debates seem to be how many subways can fit within a single announcement, and how much transit service will remain after a review of the so-called fiscal irresponsibility at the TTC.  And, o yes, what to do about our streetcars.

One big topic everyone has missed in all of the debates and counter-claims is transit to the waterfront.  Consider the land from east of the Don to the west end of Exhibition Place, not to mention the long-term potential of southern Etobicoke and Scarborough.  The room for development dwarfs what is now “downtown” Toronto.  What will we build there?  How will people move around?  Will we have downtown densities with suburban transit?  Will we invest in the waterfront and show that “Transit First” is more than a slogan?

Toronto is a “city of neighbourhoods”, a fine motto, and with luck the new waterfront communities will extend the fine-grained street life we see in the “old” city including its already redeveloped areas like the “two Kings” and the St. Lawrence.  Waterfront Toronto’s plans for the water’s edge and for a totally redesigned, transit, cyclist and pedestrian focussed Queen’s Quay will be wonderful if we pull it off, if the money doesn’t run out, if the will to build streets for people, not for cars, survives the coming election.

So far, there are few stirring speeches, visions for our future lakefront, commitments to see beyond individual developments to an overall design.  A review of the waterfront lands is a worthwhile topic for a new article and, no doubt, a robust discussion.

West Don Lands, East Bayfront and Lower Don Lands

The eastern waterfront plans lie within the realm of Waterfront Toronto and their site is full of information on what may happen.  The single biggest problem is money.  Once upon a time, the governments who fund Waterfront Toronto (Ottawa, Queen’s Park, City of Toronto) hoped that ongoing development would be self-sustaining.  New developments would bring new revenues to pay for new infrastructure.  With the economic downturn, things have not quite worked out that way (a salutary lesson for those who see development as the golden goose for transit and infrastructure spending elsewhere).

On the waterfront, the City has a “Transit First” policy that approves high densities on the assumption that good transit will be in place to serve the new offices and residents.  Whether this will actually happen remains to be seen.  Investing in the city is challenging, especially when two or three separate governments have to agree on what will be done.

First up is the West Don Lands bounded by the Don River, King Street, Parliament and the rail corridor.  Work is already underway on the first development in this area, River City, and much more is to come.  This area will also house the Pan Am Games Athletes’ Village, a future residential community for Toronto.  Transit service will initially be provided by a branch off of the King streetcar line running south on Cherry to the railway with a temporary loop just north of the Cherry Street Tower and opposite the east end of the Distillery District.

A tentative construction schedule for this area is:

  • October 2010 to June 2011:  relocation of utilities to the west side of Cherry Street to avoid conflict with the new transit corridor on the east side
  • April to December 2011:  roadwork from King to Eastern
  • July 2011 to August 2012:  roadwork from Eastern to Mill
  • April 2011 to August 2012:  roadwork from Mill to the rail corridor

Streetcar operation will begin in fall 2012.  All of this is subject to change as plans are finalized.

The East Bayfront lies south of Lake Shore Blvd from Jarvis to Parliament, at least from the point of view of project naming.  The Central Waterfront extends west from Jarvis all the way to Bathurst, but from a transit and development point of view, the major work is east of Bay Street.  When people think about the “east” side of the waterfront, Yonge Street is the natural divider.

Much of the land here is slated for redevelopment, some of which is underway such as the Corus building and George Brown College.  Redpath Sugar will remain as a reminder of the old industrial waterfront, but it will be surrounded by new commercial, residential and park spaces.

The proposed Harbourfront East streetcar/LRT will extend from the existing Queen’s Quay station a short distance underground and then rise through a new portal between Yonge and Freeland Streets.  With the new design of Queen’s Quay, it will run between a narrowed roadway to the north of the streetcar, and a pedestrian and cycling area to the south.  In the short term, the line will end at a loop near Parliament Street.

The status of this line is unclear thanks to funding problems.  A recent City planning report states a requirement only that Waterfront Toronto have transit in place sufficient for development by July 2013.  That will almost certainly be buses.

Waterfront Toronto has $150-million earmarked for this line, but the remainder will come from the TTC who are working on design and will manage the construction.  A further $137-million from Waterfront Toronto is reserved for the Union Station loop expansion (see below).  We may have a better sense of proposed TTC scheduling when their capital budget comes out in late September, but everything is subject to overall funding challenges and the whims/prejudices of the new Council and Mayor.

The vital link missing from these plans is a connection between Cherry Street and Queen’s Quay so that a single streetcar/LRT could operate between the two neighbourhoods.  That link depends on the Lower Don Lands scheme which is not yet funded.  Here is Waterfront Toronto’s feedback on this matter:

There is no capital funding currently for implementing the Lower Don Lands plan. However, Waterfront Toronto expects to allocate additional funds so that planning and design work can continue with the goal of having a “shovel ready” project with which to seek additional government funding. Waterfront Toronto is also preparing a business and implementation plan over the next one to two years that will study alternative models of financing the project.

It is expected that it will be developed in phases over a period of 10-25 years. Details of the phasing will be developed as part of the business and implementation plan. The Queens Quay and Cherry Street extensions are expected to be implemented before the Lower Don Lands.

In the first phase, the Queens Quay line will extend to Parliament Street, and the Cherry Street line down to Mill Street. Connecting the two lines and extending them will take place at a later time, as this will require modifications to the Cherry Street underpass, the realignment of Cherry Street, the filling of the end of Parliament Slip to allow the road and transit to continue east, and funding that is not currently in place.

Therefore connecting the two new legs will take place when the Lower Don Lands work begins.

Union Station Loop

Union Station Loop was built for the Harbourfront 509 car (once known as the 604).  The loop has been inadequate since it opened, but remains as a monument to the stubbornness of TTC engineering who grossly overestimated its capacity and underestimated demand at this location.  Among the shortcomings:

  • In calculating platform capacity, the TTC included a substantial area that is unavailable or of marginal safety due to swingout of cars going around the tight loop.
  • In calculating capacity of the passageway between the loop and the Union Station mezzanine, the TTC made no allowance for bidirectional flow, nor for the fact that the queue of waiting passengers regularly backs up into the corridor.  The barrier in the middle of the corridor was added to channel the flows, but the capacity crunch remains.

In the revised loop, new tracks and platforms are added outside of the existing structure although the loop at the north end remains.  The passageway is widened, and it connects directly to the new south platform at Union subway station as well as the new lower concourse within the railway station.  Passengers will now board and alight from streetcars on straight sections of platform, and moving cars will no longer conflict with pedestrians.

The timing of this loop’s reconstruction is uncertain and is affected both by the date when a Harbourfront East line would open as well as the construction projects at Union rail and subway stations.

The Port Lands

The Port Lands are an immense area south and east of those portions of the waterfront most people see regularly.  At 400 hectares (988 acres) these lands are roughly equivalent to a block bounded by Yonge, Bloor, Bathurst and Queen.  However, they are oddly shaped and much harder to reach.

Eventually, rail transit will cross into this area (again, this work depends in part on the Lower Don Lands scheme to realign roads at the Cherry, Lake Shore, Parliament, Queen’s Quay junction), but in the medium term we won’t see anything more than a bus.  The 72A Pape route now serves the northwestern part of these lands with a summer extension south to Cherry Beach, but transit service to these lands is rather sparse.

The proposed hockey arena would be located here, and will no doubt spur some debate about transit access.  Although hockey players tend to come by car at odd hours and be burdened with equipment, other uses for this arena may require better transit service.  However, the buildout of development in the Port Lands is so far off, compared with lands closer to downtown, that nobody is really thinking seriously about transit for this area.

The Gardiner Expressway

Waterfront Toronto is conducting an Environmental Assessment of a proposal to replace the Gardiner Expressway between Jarvis and the Don River with an at-grade road or with an alternative form of elevated or underground expressway.  This is a major issue for political candidates and is viewed by some as the most striking element of the “war on the car”.  What is often lost in this discussion are some basic facts that led to the proposal in the first place.

  • This is not about demolishing the entire expressway, only the portion east of Jarvis.  This structure is much wider than is necessary to handle current traffic as it was built for the combined demands of the Don Valley Parkway and the never-build Scarborough Expressway.
  • The Gardiner runs close to the rail corridor and is part of the same physical barrier between the main part of the city and the waterfront.  Bringing it down to grade level from the Don to Jarvis would eliminate the need to maintain the structure and would lessen its effect on lands further south that are slated for development.
  • Other options include putting the Gardiner underground, or rebuilding the elevated structure at a scale appropriate to the capacity required to serve the DVP/Gardiner link.

An at-grade Gardiner would have to mesh with the planned local road changes in the Lower Don Lands (see above) and would interact with traffic on north-south streets such as Sherbourne.  At this point, it is unclear which arrangement, all things considered, would be ideal.  Although the proposal has come under much fire, I believe that the EA should continue if only to get all of the options and implications of various designs on the table to allow informed debate.

Ashbridge Carhouse

Out at the east end of the Port Lands, the TTC’s proposed Ashbridge Carhouse at the southeast corner of Leslie and Lake Shore stirred up a hornet’s nest with local residents and Councillors.  This project is an essential part of the new streetcar order, but there is no indication of any funding to build it beyond what might be found within the TTC’s capital budget.  That, as I wrote elsewhere, is constrained by the peculiarities of capital transit financing and support from all levels of government.

Through the discussion of both the site and the access to it via Leslie from Queen, it became clear that the ideal location would have been the Lever property just east of the Don south of Eastern Avenue, but the TTC had gone too far down the road with Ashbridge and timelines for getting the new carhouse built were very tight.

This project will be one of the critical items to watch when the new Council debates about the TTC’s 10-year capital planning.

The Central Waterfront and Railway Lands

Once upon a time, the land south of Front (indeed south of King west of Simcoe) and the waterfront was filled with rail yards, the remnants of Toronto’s port and a lot of vacant land.  Now it looks as if some passing deity scattered a bag of condo seeds over the neighbourhood.

Transit is still trying to catch up, and city designers are all too aware that the original version of the waterfront left much to be desired.  The Harbourfront streetcar line opened in 1990, a shuttle from Union Station to Spadina & Queen’s Quay, joined in 1997 by the Spadina car and the Harbourfront extension west to Bathurst in 2000.  Waterfront Toronto’s design competition brought us many beautiful pictures with Queen’s Quay transformed into an oasis of pedestrians, cyclists, transit and a few lanes for cars.  A wonderful vision, but as usual one compromised by funding.

The Harbourfront line, Toronto’s first attempt at “LRT” since the decision to keep streetcars back in 1972, is less than ideal.  Union Loop (see above) has always been an undersized, unpleasant place to connect with what should be a shiny, new, attractive line.  TTC’s line management on Spadina treats Queen’s Quay as a place streetcars might go now and then, provided they don’t have to short turn, and service can be rather spotty.  Years after the line opened, the combination of frequent stops, crossings and traffic lights don’t give the fastest ride on the system, and at major locations such as the crossings with Lake Shore, road traffic still dominates transit.

Waterfront Toronto’s Queen’s Quay project will completely change the look and feel of that street and pull together the many islands of good, but hidden design along the water’s edge.  Alas, like so much else in Toronto, this project has funding problems.  The money available will not allow completion of the full first phase from Bathurst to Bay.  Design work is now underway to determine which 800-metre stretch would be most appropriate.  Construction will begin early in 2011.

While the TTC’s streetcar tracks are rebuilt and, in some cases, relocated, the Harbourfront line will be shut down and replaced with buses.  This work will replace some of the last “thunder track” left on the streetcar system from the era when rails were laid in concrete, welding was an afterthought, and noisy, disintegrating trackbeds the norm.

The area from York through to Yonge is a problem on Queen’s Quay visually and for transit service.  The street is surrounded by dull buildings giving little care to pedestrian traffic with the Harbour Castle hotel being a particularly offensive example.  To the degree possible within the built-up framework, this will change as the south side of Queen’s Quay is pedestrianized.  York Street will see a new design, possibly including the replacement of the spiral off-ramp from the Gardiner by a park.

At Bay Street, a scheme to move the streetcars, including the junction for the Harbourfront East line, up to the surface was discussed but rejected because of technical difficulties in placing a new ramp on Bay Street north of Harbour Street, and because of concerns for the interaction of frequent streetcar service with pedestrians just north of the Island Ferry docks.

Bremner and Fort York

West of Spadina, the railway lands are quickly filling with condos and new buildings on Fleet Street strain the Harbourfront car’s abilities during peak periods.  The entire area along Bremner and Fort York Boulevards, Bathurst and Fleet has seen much ad-hoc planning and a poor integration of transit with a fast-developing residential community.

This all began with the 1990 proposal for the Waterfront West LRT line.  What we have to date is the Harbourfront extension from Spadina to Bathurst, and the reconfigured Fleet Street west to Strachan.  However, once that was in place, the TTC realized that they had build a local streetcar line, not an LRT, and traffic signal problems, especially at Bathurst, Fleet and Lake Shore, would constrain the route’s capacity.

A parallel scheme using Bremner and Fort York Boulevards has floated around in the background rarely showing up on maps and almost never discussed when larger transit schemes and funding are at issue.  A staff report and Commission approval were hurriedly pushed through in June 2008 to get this idea “on the table” as part of the MoveOntario2020 scheme.

The line would begin at Union Station (provision for it is shown on the station plan linked above), would run underground through the north edge of the Air Canada Centre and then swing south at Simcoe to reach Bremner.  At this point things get tricky.

The line could emerge in a portal to run on the surface, but this would be through the area just south of the Dome where pedestrian traffic can be quite intense.  A grade crossing with the Spadina car would make that intersection even busier and more challenging for transit, and the right-of-way kept on Fort York Boulevard west of Spadina is barely wide enough for the streetcar tracks let alone any platforms.

When the line reaches Bathurst, the level at which Fort York approaches from the east is lower than the existing bridge structure.  A major, as-yet unresolved controversy, involves the Bathurst Street bridge where the TTC wants two new lanes as part of a new transit right-of-way on the wider south end of Bathurst.

West from Bathurst, the TTC wants to continue the Bremner line along Fort York Boulevard, a street that was originally designed as the auto traffic bypass for the Lake Shore intersection, through a parking lot behind the Armoury at Strachan Avenue and into Exhibition Loop from the northeast.  This arrangement interferes with Fort York’s planned redevelopment including a new visitor centre and parking relocated from the fort site itself to the land behind the Armoury.  In the long term, the Fort hopes to integrate all of the lands down to Fleet Street including the Armoury building itself once the Department of National Defence decamps sometime in the next decade.

Exhibition Place and Ontario Place

The CNE and its comparatively upstart neighbour, Ontario Place,  don’t have the greatest history of support for transit.  The original Exhibition Loop (seen here in a 1933 photo from the City Archives) stood on lands now occupied by the National Trade Centre (now known as the Direct Energy Centre).  A scheme to put the loop in the Centre’s basement was rejected as too costly, and transit service was relegated to the north end of the site under the Gardiner Expressway.

In its original form, the WWLRT would have created a major transit terminal at Ontario Place.  This scheme ran aground on the combined opposition to the use of Lake Shore as a transit corridor and Ontario Place’s desire to preserve their parking lot.  The right-of-way we now have on Fleet Street is a remnant of this plan, shifted north to serve the new Exhibition Loop, but of little use to lands further south.  Putting transit where people actually wanted to go was not a high priority.

By the time of the most recent review of alignments, the WWLRT was firmly entrenched on the north edge of the CNE site, well out of the way.  Option 1 in blue on the linked map is the preferred route.  It is direct, presuming that the goal is to get through the CNE as fast as possible, but it is remote from the more attractive south end of the site.

In the past year, Exhibition Place has started to rethink itself with a proposed hotel on the Lake Shore frontage.  This is the obvious place for any redevelopment being the most attractive land.  Meanwhile, Ontario Place also contemplates a redesign.  Where is the transit planning?  Nowhere to be found.

The City, TTC and Queen’s Park need to rethink the role of transit to Exhibition Place and Ontario Place with a view to making them truly accessible, especially along the waterfront.  Those who would visit the new developments, attend events for which the sites exist, should not have to pick their way through whatever maze blocks the path from Exhibition Loop to the lake, or brave the weather for a trek longer than we would expect of riders anywhere else in the city.

The Western Waterfront

The City of Toronto approved the Western Waterfront Master Plan in August 2009, but like so many wonderful ideas, it lacks funding.  Transit plans for the area ran headlong into the TTC’s scheme for the Waterfront West LRT.

In the TTC version, the line would link into The Queensway just west of Roncesvalles making this an even more complex intersection than today.  The City (at least the version of it under David Miller) prefers that the line run via a redesigned Lake Shore Boulevard and link with The Queensway at Colborne Lodge Road (the stop in the centre of High Park).

Neither of these is likely to see construction soon as the WWLRT is not high on anyone’s priority list.  Sadly, the TTC may bull ahead with the connection at Roncesvalles even though it is inferior and will no doubt worsen already difficult traffic conditions there.

Meanwhile, the long-standing battle for good transit service to southern Etobicoke will continue as the TTC refuses to entertain alternatives to the shoddy service now provided by the 501 Queen car, and the local Councillor is more interested in supporting an express bus to downtown than runs almost empty.

The long term issue here is the future of development on Lake Shore west of the Humber River and the nature of transit demand this will produce.  Competing GO service in the same corridor attracts some riding by commuters to downtown, but local demand is left with the 501 for east-west travel.  The TTC fixates on obtaining a private right-of-way from Humber to Long Branch even though the road is not wide enough over the entire distance, and the service quality makes the idea of “LRT” an open joke.

Thinking Big

Toronto is beset by politicians who think one project at a time.  They look at one ward, one development, one zinger-of-a-comment in a debate, but they don’t look at the larger issues of planning the city.  For decades, the waterfront suffered from planning that treated much of the land as a road corridor and fitted in new developments as political and fiscal capital came available.  The past decade brought a glut of new housing, a noble part of the goal of increased downtown densities, but transit did not keep pace.

Toronto risks making the same mistake as many suburbs — creating residential density beyond what the local road system can handle — right in the heart of the city.  The true irony is that the cost of many transit proposals on the waterfront is a fraction of various subway or LRT proposals.  The distance to be covered is short compared to Eglinton, Sheppard or Finch and the passenger demands will be well within the capability of LRT.

The “Transit City” brand is notable for its absence on much of the waterfront, and Metrolinx’ regional plan focuses on the GO rail corridor leaving Waterfront Toronto to handle the local planning.  Much work has been done to show what the waterfront can become, and this must be continued by whoever takes over from the Miller administration.  We need the will to build good transit service, to see the waterfront not just as the playground of pampered city folk, but as a vital part of Toronto.

About Steve

Steve thanks you for reading this article, even if you don't agree with it.
This entry was posted in Transit, Urban Affairs, Waterfront. Bookmark the permalink.
RSS for Comments

13 Responses to Revisiting The Waterfront

  1. Misha says:

    I can understand that we may or may not get the Waterfront East LRT.

    While it will or may be a bus route, that may more likely occur if Rob Ford destruction of streetcar lines wins the election this October.

    That means that Waterfront West Queens Quay makeover with only one lane in each direction could be destroyed and possibly terminated if Rob Ford wins. That is one of the dangers that we could face.

  2. DavidC says:

    Steve said: On the waterfront, the City has a “Transit First” policy that approves high densities on the assumption that good transit will be in place to serve the new offices and residents. Whether this will actually happen remains to be seen.

    I fear we already can see; the Corus building is almost fully occupied but no sign of the QQ East LRT or even a temporary reworking of the existing bus service to provide better links in the interim. The new George Brown campus is set to open in September 2012 and I doubt that the LRT will be built then (despite the requirement when the Corus land was transferred by the City to have it up and working by 2012.)

  3. Ed says:

    Long post to digest. (Maybe breaking posts up might make for more focused comments.)

    Two quick points for now:

    1) It’s “Colborne Lodge” [fixed -- thanks]
    2) Perhaps the TTC’s plan to hook WWLRT into the Roncesvalles/Queen/King/Queensway intersection is inspired by these City archive photos:

    Queen & Roncesvalles 1923: 1 2 3

  4. Why should there be funding problems for the rebuilding of the existing track on Queens Quay between Bay and Spadina? The bulk of the cost would be rebuilding the track which needs rebuilding anyway. They have found the money to rebuild all the other streetcar track across the city. The rest is just resurfacing the street and rearranging the stop lights.

    Steve: The problem lies in co-ordination with the restructuring of the road and the fact that the new tracks will not go exactly where the old ones are. Ideally the TTC should do this all in one job, but a shortened Waterfront Toronto project could make this difficult.

    Between the tunnel changes and the slow rebuilding, sounds like this section is going to be running buses instead of streetcars a lot the next few years, and it has been bustituted pretty frequently in the last few years already.

    Last I heard they weren’t going to rebuilt the section between Spadina and Bathurst because the track is relatively new but create an awkward crossover for the eastbound lane (westbound cyclists are expected to take the pedestrian crossing). I was thinking there might be room on the south side for two lanes without rebuilding the tracks if they got rid of the little green space between the tracks and the street.

    Steve: The section west of Spadina is 10 years’ younger than the track to the east, and it is built to the “new” track standards. The change of lane arrangements is due to differences in access requirements to the south side of Queen’s Quay closer to Bathurst Street.

  5. OC, Corktown says:

    I attend meetings of the West Donlands Committee regularly and live alongside the King-Sumach intersection where the Cherry Street cars are planned to go. This is the first I’ve heard of any scheduling plans for the implementation/build, so thank you for posting that. You’ve probably already heard the various stories from Waterfront Toronto staff about the turn-around loop south of Cherry-Mill, a somewhat tragic yet typical tale of Euro-style planner wishes running up against the brick wall that is TTC operations… from what I gather neither side is thrilled with the result, but at least at this point it’s a “go”. Even as short as just a few months ago there was talk that the province might suggest not building it until AFTER Pan Am, esp. as the continual construction traffic across it through 2015 could potentially damage the infrastructure before it ever even sees significant use, and that it’s not a priority for the actual Village use itself during the Games. Glad to see they’re going with an install-ahead of the neighbourhood plan instead.

    Interestingly, for all the talk of a DRL somewhere through this part of town, it has never factored into the precinct planning for any/all of West Donlands… so in my head that’s reading as “even is Thompson somehow wins and supports DRL, it won’t even begin work through that area until after the showpiece period of summer 2015 — so in effect after her first term as mayor and facing the next mayoralty race before it even gets a shovel in the ground.

    More scarily, is the notion that the Province could support and push the infrastructure builds like Cherry Street around the Village site, only to have a Ford administration already well advanced on phasing out all streetcars before the neighbourhood has even come to fruition. *sigh* It’s so encouraging to spend years following the planning of a neighborhood just to know that before it even gets rolling a key link for it would/could be scuppered.

  6. NCarlson says:

    What I’d really like to see is the western and central waterfront stuff rolled into the downtown rapid transit study that is supposedly starting up. My suspicion is that the CNE – Dufferin loops connection makes sense, but that the rest of the WWLRT should probably be scrapped in favor of a long branch car terminating at Roncesvalles or Dundas west and creating a transfer to the Downtown Relief Line at Roncesvalles and Queen as soon as possible. In any case, all the waterfront stuff needs to be reexamined in the context of the DRL; while I don’t see much in the way of changes coming to the eastern lines, which with or without a subway are needed for their Lower Don Lands Portlands connections they really do need some kind of integration with any new subway, and should be taken into account.

    Basically I would suggest that the WWLRT study (whenever it gets going again) become solely focussed on west of Roncesvalles, and that the Downtown Rapid Transit study become a comprehensive central transit study, rather than a simple restudy of the DRL as a single line.

  7. Denis T says:

    Rob Ford’s waterfront is where the automobile dominates over everything else, I can just feel it…..

  8. Andrew says:

    What seems to be entirely missing from this thread is the role of GO in serving waterfront condo developments. There ought to be at least four new GO stations along the waterfront – somewhere around Cherry Street, somewhere near Spadina/Front beside CityPlace, somewhere near King/Sudbury or Queen/Dufferin around Liberty Village, and somewhere near Humber Loop to serve the condos there. It ought to be possible to set up some temporary GO shuttle trains at low cost – GO now owns most of the tracks in this area now – while waiting for the track improvements/electrification to allow more frequent service (e.g. a Union-Exhibition shuttle would be very useful for CNE crowds, Toronto FC games and morning rush hour on the King streetcar). Streetcars alone are inadequate alone for serving the waterfront.

    Steve: Although GO has a role for commuter traffic from southern Etobicoke to downtown, I am less convinced of its link with Liberty Village, Don Lands or Port Lands. Similarly, the DRL is likely to be too far north to be of much use to a great deal of the development taking place in the waterfront, and in any event it will be a long time before the DRL is actually operating.

    Trying to use GO to get from near-downtown locations to Union is like trying to get on the subway westbound at Broadview in the morning rush hour. Possible, just, and with a great deal of patience and love for riding in close quarters. Also, there are many transit demands in various waterfront districts that are not peak period or downtown oriented, and which require a more finely grained service than GO or the DRL are likely to provide.

    As a general caution, I recommend that people actually look at a map to see how far south of the rail corridor much of the land in question actually lies.

  9. the Corus building is almost fully occupied but no sign of the QQ East LRT or even a temporary reworking of the existing bus service to provide better links in the interim. The new George Brown campus is set to open in September 2012 and I doubt that the LRT will be built then

    I’ve noticed a private shuttle going to the Corus building. I don’t know where it comes from, but I suspect it is Union Station.

    On the other hand, the Bay bus does provide decent service one block from the Corus building, not to mention the Sherbourne bus. Perhaps the Bay bus will be extended when George Brown opens.

    The change of lane arrangements is due to differences in access requirements to the south side of Queen’s Quay closer to Bathurst Street.

    I bike through there frequently. There is really only one driveway on the south side of Queen’s Quay between Spadina and Bathurst and is it close enough to Dan Leckie Way for a connection to be built.

  10. Sorry to harp on only one part of this extensive post, but this has been grinding my gears for a fair while now…

    The transit priority along the LRTs (or perhaps “LRTs”) downtown is a joke. I haven’t seen the rebuilt St. Clair in operation, but I have watched the disasters on Spadina and especially Queen’s Quay. Stand at QQ and York at the end of a summer day and watch the streetcars get one 10 second green per the entire cycle. Watch the crowd at the farside stop while a streetcar sits at its light while cars on QQ have the green (and nobody’s turning left). Watch the crowd and the streetcar continue sitting there while the two cars on York get the green. It’s a mockery.

    Spadina appears a bit better, perhaps thanks to the left-turn lanes, but the far-side stops still mock streetcars waiting for their green.

    Reading somewhere about Queen’s Quay East and its new, two-lane-streetcars-off-road layout, I caught that every driveway will apparently have a traffic signal. This is already done on Queen’s Quay West… the absurd signal east of York regulating entry to a parking lot comes to mind. Is the requirement that every single opportunity to turn across a streetcar ROW a Toronto thing, or is it mandated by some provincial law or MTO regulation? Must we really treat drivers like total imbeciles incapable of doing anything but following explicit signs and signals? Who could we complain to to hopefully get some sanity injected into this?

    Steve: Five years ago, the transit Commissioners asked staff for a report on improving transit priority signalling on Spadina/Harbourfront. They are still waiting. The arrangement on Queen’s Quay is a joke with those short cycle times, and the signal east of York that holds every car just after leaving the stop is a perfect example of bad design. Operators should be able to send a request to the signal system to initiate the transit cycle when they are close to ready to leave the stop. At other signals, the detection system should deal properly with multiple cars rather than turning the signals red after only one has crossed the intersection.

    In far too many places, “transit priority” means keeping streetcars out of motorists’ way.

  11. Trevor says:

    I remember seeing what London (England) did for the start of its Docklands area. The well-planned utilities and transportation were present years before the buildings went up. That way, the city managed to avoid much of the political project-by-project nonsense. The strategy precluded political tactics. As a result, the city won its future in that area.

  12. DavidC says:

    Trevor said: “I remember seeing what London (England) did for the start of its Docklands area. The well-planned utilities and transportation were present years before the buildings went up.”

    That is what the City, the TTC and Waterfront Toronto hoped for with their “Transit First” mantra. Unfortunately they did not achieve it: the 504 extension down Cherry Street will, MAYBE, be in place not too long after people move into the West Don Lands and Distillery developments but the Corus Building is open now and GBC’s building will open in summer 2012. (In addition East Bayfront and Parkside are being planned right now.) Though the Corus land was transferred with a requirement to have the LRT up and running by 2011 Admiral Adam was quoted the other day as saying he “hoped” the Queens Quay East line would be open in time for the Pan-American Games in 2015 but it depends on getting the streetcar access to Union Station improved and that project is moving rather slowly. Tenders closed a couple of weeks ago but nothing is yet approved or signed.

    The actual wording was “an operational LRT from Union Station to Parliament Street, along Queen’s Quay East by December 31, 2011″; See EX-10.8.

  13. OC, Corktown says:

    Steve wrote: “Waterfront Toronto’s plans for the water’s edge and for a totally redesigned, transit, cyclist and pedestrian focussed Queen’s Quay will be wonderful if we pull it off, if the money doesn’t run out, if the will to build streets for people, not for cars, survives the coming election.”
    ——–
    My fear now, and I suppose it’s one that ties just as well to other posts against a Ford administration, is that with the strong front-runner status that Mr. Ford now commands there is even less chance of him publicly stating his clear intent for the waterfront redevelopments, especially the Queen’s Quay eastbound lane removals in favour of expanded pedestrian and trail access through the central waterfront. Sadly, I suspect that project along with anything beyond a bus for Queen’s Quay East will die with his election as mayor — he’s shown little interest in the past of seeing infrastructure builds as investments rather than expenses, and I sense he NEVER considers car-lane removal as something that could actually improve an area. (Heck, he’ll probably even force Ryerson to reopen their stretch of Gould.)

    I had hoped by now one of the other candidates would ask him directly to tell us what projects that are far along the planning process he would endorse and support, and which ones he does not. Sadly, they too do not appear to openly list any of their waterfront favourites either, perhaps because it looks too much like supporting the current administration (Mr. Pantalone aside, of course)… so where Ford had little impetus to do so before, for the next five weeks he’ll have even less reason to — candidates with strong leads are better off staying quiet for the rest of the campaign than they are of spelling things out clearly. Maybe the media will pick up on it instead, with a “what will go away with Rob as mayor” list, but even that I fear would get scant headlines to those that may still be swayed.

    More sadly, the loss of those advanced plans after countless hours of work and public involvement will drive fewer people to volunteer their time and ideas to future projects — just think of the public EA meetings you’ve all attended for new transit and how wasted that time was now if the project gets nixed — so over time the projects will come to be things that are foisted onto neighbourhoods rather than put there following some semblance of community involvement. Maybe that’s a good thing in some ways, but right now I can’t see how… I can’t even bring myself to attend a future West Donlands meeting as it seems to me anything and everything discussed there will just be overrun later by decisions coming straight from the mayor’s chair. Very disheartening.

    Maybe the media and other candidates could take that one step further right away, asking Torontonians if that’s really the city they want — one where community involvement is limited and maybe even derided, and where the mayor only supports ideas that are entirely his administration’s. At the very least, somebody has to figure out a way to get him to say point-blank before the election if certain projects or others are going to die or not. We deserve to know.

Comments are closed.