Toronto Council has approved the transit plan for Toronto featuring Mayor John Tory’s SmartTrack line and the Scarborough Subway after a long debate on July 14, 2016. Notwithstanding severe problems with financial pressures and the blind faith needed to expect that the entire package can actually be funded, Council added a few pet projects that never quite fade from view thanks to the efforts of individual members.
LRT proposals for Eglinton East and West survived the vote largely because they are part of larger packages – SmartTrack in the west, and the Scarborough Subway Extension in the east. The subway debate has so polarized camps that “LRT” is synonymous with third class transit simply because it was the heart of the “non subway” option. Without the bitterness of the SSE that required subway advocates to paint LRT in the worst possible light, its potential role in Toronto’s future network might not have been so poisoned while other cities embrace this mode.
Staff recommendations in the report were amended in some respects, and a few new clauses were added, notably one asking for City staff to pursue a co-fare arrangement with GO Transit.
The Waterfront Transit Reset report is a separate agenda item and, at the time of writing, Council has not yet dealt with it.
The Finch West and Eglinton Crosstown LRT projects are under Metrolinx, and they are already underway to varying degrees.
SmartTrack & Eglinton West LRT
The report’s recommendations were amended to include additional studies (see underscored text below):
- on a motion by Councillor John Campbell (carried 11-32) for additional grade separations at Royal York and at Islington, and
- on a motion by Councillor Holyday (carried 38-5) for commuter parking on the LRT.
1. City Council approve the following components which comprise the SmartTrack project scope, and request the Province of Ontario and Metrolinx to partner with the City of Toronto and the Toronto Transit Commission, to complete the remaining technical and planning analysis and undertake any required Environmental Assessment/Transit Project Assessment Process:
a. SmartTrack/Regional Express Rail (RER) Integration scenario with up to six new stations located at Finch, Lawrence, Gerrard and Unilever on the Stouffville/Lakeshore East GO corridors and Liberty Village and St. Clair West on the Kitchener GO corridor; and
b. Eglinton West LRT extension with between 8 to 12 stops between Mount Dennis and Renforth Gateway, and potential grade separations located at Martin Grove Road, Kipling Avenue and the Eglinton Flats as well as the potential grade separations at Islington Avenue and Royal York Road and a review of their associated costs.
2. City Council request the City Planning Division and the Toronto Transit Commission, in partnership with Metrolinx, the City of Mississauga and the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA) to further develop options for extending the Eglinton West LRT between Renforth Gateway and Pearson International Airport and examine opportunities to provide commuter parking for the LRT.
Scarborough Transit Network
Councillor Josh Matlow moved to replace the SSE with the Scarborough LRT, and to redirect funding from both the Scarborough Subway tax and the Federal contribution earmarked for the SSE to the Eglinton East LRT (lost 27-16).
Councillor Gord Perks moved that work continue on design for the Scarborough LRT in parallel with work on the SSE so that comparison of the projects could be made on an equal footing with up-to-date, contemporary cost estimates (lost 27-16).
Councillor John Campbell moved that a cost estimate for a subway on the SRT alignment be prepared. See clause 3.c below. (Carried 29-14.)
3. City Council request the City Manager and the Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Transit Commission to remove from consideration the 3-stop McCowan Scarborough Subway Extension (SSE) and continue to develop an SSE Express option, by conducting the following:
a. retaining the services of a third-party rail transit construction and cost-estimation expert to undertake a risk assessment and detailed review of the TTC’s 5 percent design cost estimates for the McCowan corridor and other possible express subway alignment options; and
b. prepare the Environmental Project Report for the SSE express subway and issue the Notice of Commencement for the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP) once ready to proceed.
c. preparing a cost estimate for Scarborough Subway Extension Option 2C (Express subway- SRT corridor alignment to Scarborough Centre (with partial at-grade)) that specifically reviews and assesses the current SRT surface route alignment, and which would route the subway track on surface or above ground, from a point just south of Lawrence Avenue East.
4. City Council request the City Manager and the Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Transit Commission, in partnership with Metrolinx, and in consultation with the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC), to undertake further technical and planning analysis with respect to an Eglinton East LRT extension to the UTSC, including:
a. advancing the Eglinton East LRT to a minimum of 5 percent design;
b. assessing the interface at Kennedy Station of the Eglinton East LRT, Metrolinx Eglinton Crosstown project, and the preferred Scarborough Subway Extension (SSE) option as a result of the analysis requested in recommendation 3;
c. assessing the potential realignment of Military Trail through UTSC; and
d. identifying the requirements for the next phase of the Eglinton East LRT extension to Malvern.
5. City Council request the City Manager and the Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Transit Commission, in consultation with Metrolinx, to develop a business case analysis for the Scarborough Transit Network solution, and include the following components in the network scenarios:
a. Express Scarborough Subway Extension (SSE), subject to the additional analysis outlined in recommendation 3; and
b. Eglinton East LRT extension based on the additional analysis outlined in recommendation 4.
6. City Council request the Province of Ontario to confirm the timing for delivering the approved Sheppard East LRT extension, with committed funding under the Building Canada Fund and the Toronto-Metrolinx Light Rail Transit Master Agreement signed in 2012, in order to inform transit network planning and business case analysis for Scarborough’s future transit network.
Councillor Glenn DeBaeremaeker moved to protect the woodlot at the southeast corner of STC from damage by the SSE project (carried 39-4).
That City Council direct staff to rule out any further consideration of locating the work site for the Scarborough Subway Extension in the Frank Faubert Woodlot.
When the report was at Executive Committee, the section on the Relief Line had been amended to include a request to report on an alternative alignment roughly between Gerrard and Queen Streets via Carlaw rather than via Pape. This was part of the recommendations before Council.
Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon moved that provision for this study be deleted, and the original staff recommendation including only the Pape alignment be restored. Her motion lost on a vote of 35-8. Study of the Carlaw option will, therefore, proceed at an estimated cost of $520,000.
7. City Council approve the Pape-Eastern-Queen alignment for the Relief Line, subject to the determination of a specific alignment in Part 7b below, and authorize the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning and the Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Transit Commission to:
a. work in partnership with Metrolinx to confirm station locations for optimal connections between the Relief Line and SmartTrack/Regional Express Rail, including future extensions of the Relief Line; and
b. undertake an additional assessment of an alignment west of Pape Avenue, starting immediately north of the GO tracks on Pape Avenue to south of Queen Street, with a station box at Queen Street and Carlaw Avenue and:
1. prepare an Outreach Plan in consultation with the local Councillor to review these option(s) with stakeholders, including the General Manager, Economic Development and Culture, and the public, including local residents; and
2. bring back a recommendation to Council, through Executive Committee, prior to commencing the formal Transit Project Assessment Process; and
c. prepare the Environmental Project Report for the Relief Line and issue the Notice of Commencement for the Transit Project Assessment Process once ready to proceed.
8. City Council authorize the City Manager in consultation with the Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Transit Commission to develop a Terms of Reference with the Province of Ontario and Metrolinx to advance the next phases of planning and design for the Relief Line, including extensions of the Relief Line north to Sheppard Avenue and west to the Bloor subway line.
9. City Council request the Toronto Transit Commission and the City Planning Division to assess potential impacts associated with tunnelling and station construction during the detailed design phase of the project, and identify mitigation measures for private property owners, and conduct further public consultation where impacts to residential areas are identified.
Cost Sharing & Funding
The recommendations include explicit funding for more detailed design work on the Eglinton East LRT (see clause 13 below) because this is not as far advanced as other parts of the network proposal. Eglinton West received more study up front as part of the review of SmartTrack and the decision already taken by Council to substitute it for the ST heavy rail branch westward from Mount Dennis.
10. City Council authorize the City Manager to undertake the following and report to City Council for its consideration:
a. negotiate cost sharing and intergovernmental fundings arrangements with the Province of Ontario for shared costs associated with:
1. implementing SmartTrack within the Regional Express Rail program;
2. extending an LRT along Eglinton West;
3. extending an LRT along Eglinton East;
4. operating and maintaining Metrolinx Toronto LRT projects;
5. municipal utility and infrastructure within Metrolinx-owned rail corridors; and
6. any other outstanding transit related matter.
b. review and report back on governance implications and arrangements to be put in place to effectively carry out the intergovernmental funding and cost share arrangements; and
c. negotiate and enter into a funding agreement with the Government of Canada for the federal contribution towards the incremental costs associated with implementing the SmartTrack components within the Regional Express Rail program, per recommendation 1, and the Scarborough Transit Network per recommendation 3.
11. City Council request the City Manager and the Deputy City Manager and Chief Financial Officer to report to City Council on the funding implications to the City associated with the proposed terms of cost-sharing arrangements provided for pursuant to recommendation 10.
12. City Council authorize the City Manager to include additional planning and design work for SmartTrack, Eglinton West LRT, Scarborough Subway Extension, Eglinton East LRT and Relief Line, as part of the priority list of projects to be submitted to the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario under phase one of the Federal Public Transit Infrastructure Fund.
13. City Council approve the creation of an Eglinton East LRT capital sub-project within the Corporate Initiatives Capital Program’s Transit Expansion Initiatives project, with approval for a 2016 cash flow of $3 million and a 2017 cash flow of $4 million for a total of $7 million, for the purpose of advancing the Eglinton East LRT design work to 5 percent, fully funded from the Capital Financing Reserve Fund (XQ0011).
14. City Council request the City Manager in consultation with the Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Transit Commission, the Deputy City Manager, Cluster B and the Deputy City Manager and Chief Financial Officer to report through the budget process on the feasibility of establishing dedicated and properly resourced functions for the coordination, analysis and implementation of the City’s multi-billion dollar transit expansion initatives.
Hope Springs Eternal
Despite the fact that three transit projects have been studied and prioritized before and never make the cut, they have local defenders: extensions east and west of the Sheppard Subway to STC and Downsview, and a western extension of the Bloor Subway to Sherway Gardens.
The motion below regarding the Sheppard East subway extension conflicts with clause 6 regarding the Sheppard East LRT.
The Sherway and Downsview extensions are already part of the set of transit proposals under review by City Planning.
In the Feeling Congested study, the Sheppard East LRT consistently ranks among the top 5 routes through a variety of evaluation filters, but the Sheppard West and Bloor extensions fall below the top 5 in all cases. (Background Materials Scroll down to “Transit Maps”)
The real question here will be whether Mayor Tory will exert the same behind-the-scenes influence to gerrymander priorities to pay off political debts incurred to achieve support of his transit plan, or if we will actually see a fair comparison of these schemes against other proposals. There is a point at which the “integrity” of the planning process and staff could become meaningless.
The following motions put the three subway proposals back on the table for another round.
Councillor Justin J. Di Ciano moved that staff include the proposed Bloor West Subway Extension to Sherway Gardens in their ongoing studies (carried 32-11).
That City Council direct the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning to include in the previously requested report to Executive Committee in the first quarter of 2017 on the second phase of Toronto’s long term transit network plan, a review and consideration of potential alignments and costs for an extension of the Bloor Danforth line from Kipling Avenue to Sherway Gardens.
Councillor Jim Karygiannis moved that staff include the proposed Sheppard East Subway Extension to STC in their ongoing studies (carried 24-19).
That City Council direct the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning to include in the previously requested report to Executive Committee in the first quarter of 2017 on the second phase of Toronto’s long term transit network plan, a review and consideration of potential alignments and costs for an extension of the Sheppard Subway east of Don Mills to join the extension of the Bloor Danforth line.
Councillor James Pasternak moved that staff include the proposed Sheppard West Subway Extension to Downsview in their ongoing studies (carried 28-15).
That City Council direct the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning to include in the previously requested report to Executive Committee in the first quarter of 2017 on the second phase of Toronto’s long term transit network plan, a review and consideration of the construction of a subway link between Downsview station and the Yonge and Sheppard interchange.
Councillor Vincent Crisanti moved that a Woodbine GO Station be studied for the KW corridor (carried 38-5). Note that this station would lie beyond the currently proposed scope of SmartTrack, but there was no discussion of examining a revised service design to extend ST service beyond Mount Dennis.
That City Council direct the City Manager and the Deputy City Manager, Cluster B to work with Metrolinx to consider further the feasibility of a Woodbine GO Station on the Kitchener GO Corridor to coincide and support potential future development in the vicinity, including development of more than 700 acres at Woodbine, and to report back to Council as appropriate, including the identification of potential contributions for a new station from private partners.
Councillor Mike Layton moved a request for GO co-fares to be extended into Toronto (carried unanimously).
That City Council direct the City Manager to negotiate a co-fare system with Metrolinx, similar to that current in place for other GTA municipalities, for existing GO Transit routes currently operating in Toronto.
Councillor Ana Bailão moved that staff report on a potential connection from the proposed new station on the Barrie GO corridor at Bloor Street to Lansdowne subway station (carried 41-2).
That City Council request the City Manager and the Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Transit Commission, to report to the Executive Committee in the fourth quarter of 2016 on the financial and logistical conditions imposed by Metrolinx that the City “provide accessible, weather-protected, pedestrian connection to Lansdowne Subway Station” and on the potential solutions to finance the investment needed to make this connection, as outlined in the City’s Official Plan.
Councillor Ana Bailão moved that staff report on potential changes to regulations governing trains to reduce the noise from GO services (carried 41-2).
That City Council direct the City Manager to initiate discussions with Metrolinx and Transport Canada to identify best practices and possible solutions that avoids the use of train bells and/or whistles for trains entering and exiting passenger rail stations, and to provide a progress report to the Executive Committee by the end of 2016 on the status of those discussions and to include any steps or legislative requests which City Council can take in order to eliminate the use of bells and/or whistles at existing GO Train stations.
Vote on the Item as Amended
- Clauses 1.a and 2 carried unanimously.
- Clause 1.b carried 42-1.
- Scarborough Network:
- Clause 3 carried 28-15.
- Clause 4 carried unanimously.
- Clause 5 carried 36-7.
- All remaining clauses carried 41-2.
This is by no means the end of debate as many more reports will be required with further details on project options, cost estimates and funding schemes.