Waterfront West LRT and Fort York (Updated)

Updated July 5:  I have added new links to the list at the start of the post, and commentary on them down at the end.

A few posts back, I wrote about the two main options proposed by the TTC for the Waterfront West LRT (WWLRT) route between Bathurst Street and Exhibition Loop.  This post stirred up a good deal of email as the implications of the plans for Fort York became apparent.

Recent events and actions by the TTC regarding the WWLRT and its proposed alignment are rather strange.  This route has suddenly jumped from the bottom of the barrel among future Transit City routes, to a high priority project for which the TTC seeks funding.  Have they finally discovered that there is a large and growing population living just west of downtown which threatens to become a car-oriented “suburb” without substantially improved transit?  Better late than never, I suppose.

However, the process is leapfrogging ahead with a major new “preferred option” that has not been subject to public review.  Indeed, the report itself appeared at the last minute on the Supplementary Agenda for the June TTC meeting.  At least one Commissioner had not read it before the meeting, and there was only perfunctory debate.  There were no deputations or critical voices because nobody expected the report.

Meanwhile, various aspects of the entire WWLRT EA are supposed to be on hold at the request of local Councillors pending integration of the EA with other planning work underway for waterfront districts.

If this is an indication of how the TTC plans to use or abuse the new, streamlined EA process for transit projects, then we are in for some major battles on Transit City and on Metrolinx’ Regional Plan.  The more people distrust an agency’s intentions and expect that it will ignore their concerns, the more combative and obstructionist they will be.  This is not the setting we need for widespread expansion of transit services, and the TTC would do well to be more sensitive to community input. Continue reading

The St. Clair Right-of-Way Debate (Updated)

Updated July 5:  Christopher Hume wrote again in yesterday’s Star on the issue of giant fire trucks.

The St. Clair transit right-of-way issue surfaced again recently with the publication of a report by  Toronto District Fire Chief Robert Leek claiming that the design was unsafe for emergency vehicles.  Only a day later, the Fire Chief Bill Stewart walked the route with TTC Chief general Manager Gary Webster and concluded (also here) that with some minor adjustments, there was nothing wrong with the route.

Disagreements like this are nothing to scoff at, and they come in the context of rumours that various municipal agencies were forced to toe the line on approving the St. Clair design.  We will never know how much truth lies there, and the issue remains clouded in politics. Continue reading