Updated July 15, 2010 at 11:00 am:
With luck, this will be the last update in this thread.
At the TTC meeting on July 14, there was a long presentation and discussion of the issues at Donlands and Greenwood Stations. The presentation materials are not yet online as the project pages are being updated by the TTC to reflect recent changes.
TTC staff recommended and the Commission approved that the community’s alternative proposed second exit route be used. This route passes through the back yards of numbers 11 and 15 Linsmore rather than through a site now occupied by any house.
The first version of this scheme included the expropriation of the house now under renovation at 9 Linsmore. A newspaper report of the affected landowner gives some idea of the background and suggests that his 7-year renovation project is a long-standing annoyance to at least some in the neighbourhood.
In any event, it appears that other owners on Linsmore may be willing to sell, and one way or another, that’s where the exit will go. The only remaining issue for the TTC is to determine the location of a sewer that may interfere with the proposed route to the exit, and the feasibility of diverting this sewer to suit the new construction.
The situation at Donlands is more complex than at Greenwood. TTC staff did a much more thorough job at the Commission meeting, compared with the public meeting a few days earlier, of explaining the standards and calculations used in evaluating the alternatives. Their target for the path length from the point where an exit stair meets the platform to the surface is two minutes. This keeps the total exit time, including getting to the exit on the platform, within the overall code targets.
The original group of exit proposals by the community fails to meet the exit time criterion. However, a new alternative came to light at the Commission meeting. This would link into the east, rather than the west, end of Donlands Station. The exit passages would all lie under roads rather than houses, and the exit building would be on the north-east corner of Donlands & Strathmore where there is now a school parking lot and a vent shaft to the subway. TTC staff will report back on this option once they have a chance to review it.
The most contentious part of the discussion turned on whether the TTC would give approval to any plans on July 14, or would wait until their August 23 meeting to finalize their choice. The community, understandably, does not trust the TTC, and a deferral would have been a sign of good faith from the Commission. Such an action would not have slowed work because the Council meeting at which expropriation will be considered is not until August 25. A TTC recommendation could be taken to Council as supplementary information, a routine process.
On a split vote of 6-3, the Commission decided not to delay approval, and decided to give staff the authority to proceed with the three proposals now on the table: (a) Donlands & Strathmore, (b) the new TTC alternative with a building in the Dewhurst road allowance and (c) the original scheme using property now occupied by 1 & 3 Strathmore.
Staff assured the Commission that they will report back in August with the outcome of their review. More generally, there is a recognition at TTC that a public consultation process is needed for “small” projects that don’t trigger formal Environmental or Transit Project Assessments.
Updated July 12, 2010 at 10:30 pm:
At a public meeting this evening, the TTC presented a review of the options they had originally examined for Donlands and Greenwood Stations’ second exits, as well as comments about alternative schemes put forward by the community. This material is not yet available online, but I hope that it will appear on the TTC’s site in the next few days.
At Greenwood Station, the TTC has accepted the community’s proposed option that would take a tunnel south from the station under the back yards of 11 & 15 Linsmore Cres. emerging in a new exit building to replace the derelict house at 9 Linsmore.
At Donlands Station, the TTC proposes to shift their original planned exit building, which would have required the taking of the houses at 1 & 3 Strathmore Blvd., about 10m to the west. This would place the exit building partly within the roadway of Dewhurst Blvd. This option was not well-received by the community who have argued for various alternatives, notably a point slightly further south and on the west side of Dewhurst.
An issue affecting several of the alternative schemes is that the TTC wants the distance from the platform to the street not to be too long, but they have not defined exactly what this means or cited the standard that would produce an acceptable or unacceptable rating.
When this comes to the TTC for a decision on July 14, there will likely be an effort to split the vote so that each station option is dealt with separately. The Greenwood scheme would proceed, while Donlands would be held back for further consultation. Whether the split-vote tactic will be succeed depends on the lobbying efforts of each side in the debate.
Staff would prefer to get approval for both sites right away and continue consultations afterwards. That, however, effectively says “we are not going to change our minds”.
From the TTC, a request to expropriate property (and any other necessary changes such as narrowing Dewhurst) would go to the August 25 Council Meeting.
I will update this article following the Commission Meeting.
Updated July 7, 2010 at 1:30 pm:
Minutes of the first community meeting have been posted on the TTC’s website. Also available are pages for the Donlands and Greenwood sites, but these show only renderings of the proposed exits, not the details of the below-grade links to the subway or the property requirements.
Updated July 6, 2010 at 11:00 pm:
The TTC will hold a follow-up meeting at Danforth Collegiate & Technical School, 800 Greenwood Avenue, on Monday July 12 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. The purpose, as stated in the notice is:
This meeting is to provide residents of the local community with more information, discuss construction impacts and to consider community proposals, and review alternative options that were previously considered.
Updated June 30, 2010 at 10:00 pm:
A community meeting on June 29th brought TTC staff, Councillors Giambrone and Ootes, and the communities around Greenwood and Donlands stations together for a meeting that ran just over three hours. To everyone’s credit, the discussion stayed focussed and didn’t degenerate into a shouting match between the audience and the presenters.
First off I must congratulate representatives from the two communities whose presentations of neighbourhood concerns and proposed alternative schemes were as good as if not better than those given by the TTC. From my experience with other public participation schemes that have been much more community focussed, I think that starting off with a polished presentation by both sides set the tone for an actual conversation, although at times it was quite animated.
A major concern, separate from the actual design, was the process by which people, especially those whose homes would be expropriated, learned of the TTC’s plans. Sending a general mailing with a drawing that just happens to show your house as a future station entrance is the height of insensitivity, but that’s just what the TTC did. To its credit, the TTC team, headed up by Chair Giambrone, committed to a complete review and improvement of the way they handle this type of situation. Less clear is the role of Councillor Ootes who expressed displeasure with events, but failed to explain why, even though he knew of the plans at least in March 2010, if not earlier, he did not inform the affected homeowners or organize community meetings. He will be gone from Council after October’s election.
The proposed alternatives will be reviewed by the TTC who will meet with community representatives to go over these and over any other schemes the TTC might have considered but discarded. The information will be brought back to another public meeting, likely on July 12, with the intention of still taking a recommendation to the July 14th Commission meeting.
The proposed exit requires the demolition of a house on the southeast corner of Strathmore and Dewhurst. There are three alternatives proposed for consideration by the TTC:
- Relocate the exit building to the site of an old garage just south of the lane on the west side of Dewhurst opposite number 17.
- Build a tunnel under the lane dividing numbers 14 and 26 Dewhurst to a point where the exit would surface in an existing municipal parking lot behind 14 Dewhurst.
- Build a tunnel south under Dewhurst so that the new exit would surface on Danforth Avenue at Dewhurst.
There are variations on each of these, but broadly this is what community representative have suggested. Their presentation is not yet available online.
This station is a trickier situation because the station lies in the middle of a residential block and the new exit cannot be placed at an intersection.
The proposals here are:
- Shift the new exit to the west so that the north-south passage would lie in the back yards of 11 and 15 Linsmore, and the exit building would replace 9 Linsmore which has been unoccupied and under renovation for a considerable period of time.
- Tunnel the north-south passage to Danforth Avenue and emerge through a store front.
My own point of view is that the first of the proposals in each case has a chance of being accepted because each of them stays fairly close to the station and are likely to meet both the distance and cost criteria for the projects.
The second Donlands option (a tunnel under the lane separating 14 and 26 Dewhurst) will likely fail on distance criteria.
Exits on the Danforth itself have problems with distance from the station, but also in the case of Greenwood Station, a tunnel would be required under existing houses to reach the Danforth property. Such a tunnel is not likely possible given that it would be close to the surface (between the roof of the subway station and the street) and would pass under houses that are likely quite difficult to underpin for this sort of construction. Any house that would be tunnelled “under” would almost certainly have to be demolished.
Another consideration, particularly for an exit to Danforth itself, is that the building should include entrance turnstiles given the prominent location.
Further news on this subject awaits the next round of meetings with the TTC.
Original Post from June 23, 2010:
An obscure report at the recent TTC meeting authorized the release of confidential plans for Donlands and Greenwood Stations as a means of aiding public discussion in the affected neighbourhoods. The actual implications are not mentioned in the TTC report, and even the version released after a letter to the General Secretary’s office doesn’t give much detail of what is going on.
I was recently contacted by representatives of both neighbourhoods who found in their mail notices of the impending projects. A few found that there would be substantial easements for construction and new underground structures. A few more found that their houses would be expropriated.
They were not amused.
What is rather odd is that on the same agenda, there was a report about the second exit planned at Woodbine Station which does include detailed drawings including notes about the property taking that would be required. This is not as extensive as in the proposals at Donlands and Greenwood for which no drawings were shown.
As a public service (and because the TTC will only release the info to those who ask for it), here is the material sent to the communities around Donlands and Greenwood Stations.
In both cases, residents have come up with alternative schemes that may prove less intrusive to their neighbourhoods than those put forward by the TTC. I will not discuss these here as the plans may still evolve, and each community is responsible for its own affairs. They have two separate websites.
I hope that the TTC will actually listen with an open mind to alternative proposals for both stations. The organization has a bad history of “knowing what’s best for you” and dismissing critiques and suggestions out of hand. Considering that this is the first anyone in the two neighbourhoods heard of the proposal, the TTC owes people a fair and honest hearing.