Eglinton-Crosstown Public Meeting (Updated)

Updated April 27, 2011 at 4:10pm: The presentation from the April 26 public meeting is now available on the Metrolinx website.

Original post from April 21:

There will be a public meeting about the Eglinton-Crosstown project on Tuesday, April 26 from 7:00 to 8:30 pm in the auditorium of St. Clement’s School, 21 St. Clement’s Avenue.

For those who don’t know the area, this is roughly a 3/4 km walk north from Eglinton Station, or you can transfer to the 97 Yonge at Davisville (indoors) or Eglinton (on-street) Stations. The service runs roughly every 15 minutes, at least on paper.

All the attendees will arrive by transit, won’t they?

This meeting is a joint presentation of several Councillors along the Eglinton line.

One can only hope that the public will actually get a chance to speak, a rare event in our fine city these days.

37 thoughts on “Eglinton-Crosstown Public Meeting (Updated)

  1. If I don’t get to attend, can someone please ask “why hasn’t council voted on whether to go with Rob Ford’s plan or the original Transit City plans?”.


  2. Now Steve, you know that’s just scaremongering.

    The public WILL be allowed to speak, as long as they are willing to wait six hours, be cut off at any time and need absolutely no attention from the Councillors who will be busy reading their Blackberrys or stepping outside.


  3. Hmm… just googled it. Interesting choice of a PRIVATE school – and location wise a more proper location for a Glencairn/Yonge station consultation 🙂 – when North Toronto CI is a lot closer (although the demolition activity probably precluded it as a choice). Alternatively they could have used Northern at Mt Pleasant and Eglinton which would allow attendees to savour the existing Eglinton transit experience.


  4. In an earlier meeting this year sponsored by Joe Mihevc and the TEA, Joe Mihevc told a member of the audience that tunneling for the Eglinton LRT would not leave a mess on the surface. One just digs a hole to insert the boring machine, and everything else pretty much happens underground.

    However, I remember that Sheppard seemed mostly dug up for most (if not all) of its length especially at station sites during the construction of the subway there.

    So have things changed, or was Joe wrong?

    Steve: Joe is wrong. The stations and nearby areas where there are crossovers and/or centre tracks will be built cut-and-cover. All of this is covered in the EA materials and numerous public presentations.


  5. Where is this posted? I could not find it on the City of Toronto Website, or Metrolinx, and call me a conspiracy theorist, but having a meeting the day after a holiday weekend, and on such short notice? Seems Metrolinx and the TTC want to have as few people as possible at this meeting.

    Steve: I think this was put together by the Councillors. It’s not an “official” City or Metrolinx meeting, and therefore it is not on either website.


  6. I think what Tom is asking is one hell of a good question. You would surely think that City Council would have at least some say unless it’s just a rubber stamp for Ford.


  7. Richard L says:

    “Joe Mihevc told a member of the audience that tunneling for the Eglinton LRT would not leave a mess on the surface. One just digs a hole to insert the boring machine, and everything else pretty much happens underground.”

    This is the same problem that I have with the “Save Our Sheppard” group. They say that building an LRT will mean the streets will be dug up for construction but assume that Sheppard will not be dug up to put in a subway line. So how exactly would they build the infrastructure underground? Will it just appear there like magic? The fact that they think you don’t have to dig up the street to build a subway just shows how clueless these people really are. If a subway ever gets built under Sheppard to STC (which it won’t) I hope the “Save Our Sheppard” people enjoy having Sheppard dug up for the next 10 years or so. With the LRT, the line would have been opened for revenue service in 2 years from now! A lot less time that there precious roadway would have had major construction work going on.

    How exactly is Ford allowed to act like a dictator and get away with it? He hasn’t brought any of these changes to Toronto’s transit plan to City Council for approval.


  8. To be fair, remembering from the current Sheppard line, not all of the length along Sheppard was ripped up. Wheras with an above ground LRT, every inch along the line would be under construction at one point.

    I’m more interested to hear that this is coming from all the neighbourhood councillors, including Karen Stintz. I wonder if, in the absence of opportunities to discuss community issues, we will get more meetings like this? And, given the current mayor’s office approach to keeping on message, will executive councillors be allowed to attend these meetings if they are seen to go off message?


  9. @ Richard How exactly is Ford allowed to act like a dictator and get away with it?

    The same way Mike Harris did. Enough people voted for him to get him elected. He then did whatever he pleased. Same thing will happen if Harper gets a majority.


  10. Ray Kennedy says:

    “The same way Mike Harris did. Enough people voted for him to get him elected. He then did whatever he pleased. Same thing will happen if Harper gets a majority.”

    City council is a bit different though. The Mayor has some control through the executive committee but in the end everything needs to go through council for approval. There isn’t really a party system at the Municipal level.

    At the Provincial and Federal levels, if a party gets a majority, that party can basically do whatever they want. Even then they still have to bring things forward to the legislature or House of Commons but if they have the majority of the seats it’s a formality really.

    The problem with the way Ford appears to be handling City business is that he has not been bringing some very important issues to council to vote on. I’m still not sure if he brought his new transit plan to city council for approval. I’m also still not sure if he put it to a vote to council to cancel Transit City. My understanding of Municipal politics is that the Mayor cannot do whatever he wants but needs to consult and persuade council to move his agenda forward.

    Steve: The cancellation of Transit City and the approval of a new transit plan have not come to Council. Ford is using a dodge that the TTC is technically a separate agency, and unless Council is actually asked to spend some money or change the Official Plan, the TTC is more or less free to do what it wants. David Miller was criticized for using the same approach to introduce Transit City through the TTC, but the issue came to Council on several occasions for funding of the preliminary engineering and EAs.


  11. @OgtheDim: “To be fair, remembering from the current Sheppard line, not all of the length along Sheppard was ripped up. Wheras with an above ground LRT, every inch along the line would be under construction at one point.”

    True, but keep in mind that at-grade construction, properly executed, can be completed in one or two construction seasons. Underground construction is much more disruptive and results in the road being dug up for three or four years.

    The end result is no construction headache=no benefit from the new line and to benefit from the line requires a construction project that will make people wish they were on St. Clair.


  12. Steve said: “Ford is using a dodge that the TTC is technically a separate agency, and unless Council is actually asked to spend some money or change the Official Plan, the TTC is more or less free to do what it wants.”

    I don’t recall any news report about the TTC commissioners approving or even getting involved in the transit plan changes. (I realize this is academic since the majority of commissioners are Fordites.) So does this mean that the mayor has the legal right to treat the TTC as if it were merely an extension of the mayor’s office? It seems that what the TTC wants is irrelevant.

    Steve: More generally, as long as Council (or whatever agency has carriage of an issue) is dominated by people who will always, unquestioningly, do what the Mayor wants, then the situation you describe is, de facto, what happens. It’s not a question of legal right, but rather of who has the votes, and how scared they might be to tell the boss he’s wrong. It’s not a question of the TTC, but the entire city being irrelevant.


  13. It is interesting to note (from the presentation) that the goal is to have the Eglinton-Crosstown-Scarborough LRT running from Jane to Scarborough Centre, with a note that an EA addendum is required for the extension. That almost clears up the question of whether the LRT will be going to Jane or not.

    They are only launching the tunnel-boring machines for the “Midtown tunnel” segment (from Black Creek to Laird) in 2012.

    Steve, can you just confirm that they are boring a single tunnel or twin tunnels? Once the EA Addendums (addenda? are completed, accepted and gazetted, will they simply have the TBMs continue on to Jane and Kennedy?

    And if that is the case, I suppose they will have to then relaunch the TBMs (from Jane east to Black Creek and Kennedy west to Laird) to complete the missing tunnel segments? How much time will that take?

    Steve: There will be four tunnel boring machines. Two will drill east from Black Creek and two west from Leaside (the exact location is to be determined) with the intention of meeting at Chaplin Station which is a point where the line is very close to the surface. That gets us to late 2014 in the construction schedule, by which time details of the design for the outer parts of the line will be known, and the TBMs can shift to the “extensions” of the original segment. The big question still unanswered is the handling of valley and river crossings.

    Well, at least if the LRT does go underground as far as Jane, some of the concerns of residents of the Mt. Dennis (Weston & Eglinton) area would be resolved. I’d still much rather see the tunneling guaranteed through that area as opposed to Eglinton east from Laird to Kennedy.

    Also surprising was the need for an EA for the Eglinton West yard at the old Kodak lands. I would have thought that would have been completed some time ago. Also, do you know if they would need to keep both yards operating? Or is McCowan still likely to be closed?

    Regards, Moaz Yusuf Ahmad

    Steve: Both the Kodak yard site and McCowan are still in the plans. The problem with the Kodak EA approval is that it is for a different version (surface) of the route that will now be built. Putting the LRT undergound changes both the Weston station design and the gradient and/or alignment for the yard access, and that means an amendment to the existing EA.


  14. If the City of Toronto and/or TTC has to eat the $50-million+ of costs to cancel Transit City contracts, doesn’t council get a vote on this?

    Steve: In theory, yes. I am sure Mayor Ford and his minions will try to figure out some way to avoid a vote on as much of this as possible.


  15. Looking at the presentation, which should have been titled
    “Ms. Stintz Tells You Like Its Going to Be So You Won’t Get Upset with Her Like Those People on St. Clair”

    a) The Finch enhanced bus service (whatever that is) says its to go from Yonge west but the fancy orange line only goes from Finch West station. You know, they make people do Powerpoint stuff in high school these days. How much are we paying these people?

    b) 45 minutes from STC to Jane? Maybe on a Sunday morning if nothing breaks down.

    c) They now use the phrase “Up to 26 stations” . Good place to start creating financial wiggle room.

    d) Why does every stop need a Mezzanine level? That’s four more escalators and two more elevators to be out of service.

    e) Tunnel prep will take a year to start tunnelling? Wow

    Steve: The Finch service runs from Keele west because by the time it’s operating, there will be a subway station there. Don’t forget that the LRT line was not supposed to be there for a few years yet, even on the original schedule.

    There are mezzanines for several reasons. First, if you have an entrance on both sides of the street, you need to connect them. Also, all of the stations are centre platform, and you need to make the transition between a side of road street entrance to a centre of road drop to platform level. Finally, Eglinton has a lot of utilities under it, and it is not practical to put the station immediately below street level. Finally, closely following street level would accentuate the grades in the tunnels, and would also make it difficult to build the line any way but cut-and-cover.


  16. I’ve never seen underground transit being sold to the public by showing an artistic rendering of a vehicle in a depressing tunnel setting (page 24). Frankly, it looks more like a treasure-hunting fantasy in a dungeon.


  17. In response to Mark Dowling, the venue was just fine, and if anything the public may have been allowed to speak a bit too much.

    I’m now at the point where I just want them to build the damn thing.


  18. Any thoughts on how this might be impacted by the ongoing election?

    Steve: My suspicion is that any effect will be indirect. Ford & Co. seem to think that their friend, the Minister of Finance, will throw more money their way after the election. How, exactly, this fits with “private sector” funding, I’m not sure, but consistency is not one of Ford’s strong points. If we have a Liberal/NDP government, there will be pressure to increase something like the gas tax, but this is still small change in Toronto’s overall context. At the Federal level, nobody will touch operating budget issues as this is seen as a Provincial matter.


  19. Could I suggest people contact their concillors and ask them why council hasn’t voted on Ford’s transit plans?


  20. OgtheDim wrote, “To be fair, remembering from the current Sheppard line, not all of the length along Sheppard was ripped up. Wheras with an above ground LRT, every inch along the line would be under construction at one point.”

    During the construction of the Sheppard line, station locations all along its route had major excavations that removed a wide segment of the street requiring significant shifting of traffic lanes for an extended period of time. As I recall, this period of time was well over half of the entire construction time.

    Staging plans for the surface Transit City projects had staging done that would have one side of the road shifted to its new location that would then be put in use for traffic, followed by the same thing for the other side. Then construction would proceed on the line in the middle. For each section of the line between major intersections, this would consume about six months of time.

    While there is the assumption (or forgotten memory) that tunnelling has little to no impact on the street, there is also the assumption that plans cannot change once ground is broken. Couldn’t happen? Just ask the folks along Cambie Street in Vancouver.


  21. Terry G. says:

    “I’m now at the point where I just want them to build the damn thing.”

    I agree.

    Hopefully in 2014 when Ford loses the next election, Toronto’s next mayor will take the $650 million surplus money from the Eglinton-Scarborough line (hopefully there is a surplus) and still manages to get $333 million from the Federal government to build the Sheppard LRT from Don Mills to Morningside.


  22. The slides say design concepts are being developed for Keele, Caledonia, Dufferin, Eglinton West, and Bathurst. What happened to Oakwood? First casualty of the new plan perhaps?

    Steve: I suspect so. I also suspect we may lose Chaplin, even though it’s supposed to be the TBM extraction site. It’s not exactly a hot spot for demand.


  23. The plans for the Eglinton-Scarborough line look good on paper (based on what was presented in the presentation slides).

    I hope they actually build this thing. The fact that tunneling won’t start until mid-2012 still gives a future Provincial government the opportunity to cancel the line. Anyone remember Mike Harris ordering construction crews to fill in the hole on the Eglinton West subway in 1995? I’m sure everyone remembers Rob Ford ordering all construction on the Sheppard LRT to stop in late 2010. Will 2012 be year in which another Conservative government cancels construction on a transit line for the third time in Toronto? I won’t believe it will get built until its open for revenue service.


  24. “I also suspect we may lose Chaplin, even though it’s supposed to be the TBM extraction site. It’s not exactly a hot spot for demand.”

    That sounds like a big mistake. Chaplin is like 700m away from Bathurst and at the bottom of a fairly large hill. Not exactly easy to walk from one to the other.

    Is there ever going to be any public consultation on these changes or is Metrolinx just planning to show up one day with a new plan and present it as a fait accompli?

    Steve: There will be public meetings for EAs on the revised outer sections of the line, but I suspect we won’t have much chance to comment on the central section as that’s an already approved project. Also, I would not be surprised to see much of the discussion pushed off until after the Provincial election that is less than 6 months away.


  25. Most people know that the Ford brothers don’t take transit, if they have to. Losing stations like Oakwood and Chaplin would be of no problem to them since they would not be using the line anyway. Unfortunately, the rest of us will not be heard by the city brown-nosers, sorry, councilors, who could keep those stations from disappearing.


  26. Steve wrote, “I suspect we won’t have much chance to comment on the central section as that’s an already approved project.”

    It wouldn’t surprise me to find that changing the Chaplin station to the “Chaplin emergency exit” won’t require any EA amendment or public consultation.


  27. Is the Chaplin extraction site the sort of spot where one could throw a decent sized building on top of a station to partially defray costs?

    Steve: Tricky given the intersection layout, the presence of existing buildings, parks and a fire hall, and most importantly the fact that it’s Forest Hill. Even Rob Ford would sit up and take notice of that part of Toronto.


  28. Was there any talk at the meeting about opening the Jane-Laird portion of the line before the rest of the line is completed?

    Steve: It would probably not be to Laird, but rather to Yonge, given the relative simplicity of the changes to the surface bus routes. It is possible, but no word yet on the option.


  29. I was hoping to attend this meeting but I ended up making dinner for a friend who was sick and didn’t make it.

    Were questions from the attendees allowed? If there were, were there any particularly good questions or interesting answers given?

    Steve: I too had another engagement, but reports from a friend indicate that there were many questions, and they included some discontent with burying the east end of the line just to keep Ford happy at a cost of billions.


  30. I attended the meeting. It was informative and generally ran well, with lots of questions (it went almost an hour past the scheduled finish time). The crowd and most of the Councillors seemed to be all on the same page as to thinking the original plan was the best, particularily Joe Mihevc, who was clearly angered by the changes and that Rob Ford had been doing everything without council votes. Karen Stintz stayed fairly neutral and stuck to her reading points.

    One thing I noted that was mentioned by one of the councillors (I think Josh Matlow) was that the new EA for Laird-Kennedy would have to evaluate and do a cost-benefits analysis between both underground and surface options (as an EA has to cover all the bases). I asked later on whether that meant the new EA would basically just be duplicating the work of the old one, and he mentionned that the old one didn’t consider an underground option (though the crowd seemed to disagree). Do you know if the original EA looked at putting the LRT underground for the entire length? I thought it did.

    Steve: No, there was never any study of putting the whole line underground done in the EA. The intent was to stay at grade as much as possible — east of Brentcliffe and west from Black Creek, with small exceptions such as the Don Mills crossing.


  31. How biased can EA’s be? Was the original EA unjustly biased toward surface alignment [east of Laird]? Could the new EA be unjustly biased toward underground alignment? I wonder if politicians have any influence on what is said in technical reports.

    Steve: Before the EAs were started, it was decided that Transit City would be surface LRT as much as possible. This created situations such as the Don Mills proposal where attempts were made to shoehorn an LRT design into street running through East York even though it was clearly impossible. This serious damaged the credibility of the EA.


  32. What happens if the EA CBA returns a conclusion favouring a surface alignment?

    Steve: I suspect that this option won’t be in the EA. It will actually be a “Transit Project Assessment” where the choice of alignment is already presumed, just as on the Transit City projects.


  33. Could city council reject any “amendment” and vote to keep the original EA? In theory they could, but would the newbies and others get the courage to do so?

    Personally, I would like to see a vote for either Rob Ford’s phobia based plan or a compromised version, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on that.

    Steve: This is possible in theory, but requires quite a shift politically. Also, don’t forget that the City has nothing to do with the Eglinton EA as this is now a Provincial matter. The City only gets a say on Sheppard.


  34. Since I just purchased a house slightly west of Black Creek and Eglinton I have a personal interest in just what happens with this idea. Firstly, just how the construction at this end will impact my neighbourhood, on street parking, heavy vehicle traffic etc. and how it will affect my traveling in Toronto. I fully intend to scrap my car at age 65 as I will no longer need it for business and I *hate* driving in this city. Manhattan is far better, but then I am not a defensive driver.

    Whether or not it is “Ford and Company” gets it built makes no difference to me. It has been “politics” for years that has delayed any improvement of transportation in this city and a “benevolent dictator” maybe what we need at this point. As a couple of writers have said in so many words, “Just build the damned thing!”.

    I am curious about the definition of “mess” though. Unless the contractors have some way of transporting the removed material to another dimension, there will be a “mess” and it is this that worries me. Oh, and a budget of 8 Billion dollars? I will gladly take Steve out for supper if it comes in under 12 Billion dollars.


  35. There’s an update meeting coming up for “The Crosstown” project (TTC’s lingo):

    Crosstown Project Update

    Date: May 31st, 2011
    Time: 7:00pm – 8:30pm
    Location: Leaside Memorial Gardens – 1073 Millwood Road

    Doesn’t seem to be advertised anywhere that I’ve seen except on the project page.


  36. Looks like all the talk about losing Oakwood and Chaplin was just talk.

    TTC awarded Aecom $4-million contracts to design the stations last week.

    Steve: Interesting. We shall see who the winners and losers will be.


  37. nfitz says: “TTC awarded Aecom $4-million contracts to design the stations last week.”

    I am confused. The Eglinton line is all Metrolinx’ baby, right? Is the TTC the prime contractor? What’s the current division of responsibilities?

    Steve: As prime contractor, the TTC runs the project for Metrolinx. They would not have awarded a contract for designing stations that Metrolinx didn’t plan to include in their route. This is, on a grand scale, like you hiring a contractor to build you a house. It’s their job to hire the bricklayers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and to purchase the materials, but to your specifications.


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