Background

The 248 streetcars purchased by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) in the 1970s and 1980s are nearing the end of their useful lives and need to be replaced. The TTC is acquiring a new fleet of 204 Light Rail Vehicles (LRV) that will be low-floor, quieter, have features such as air conditioning for greater customer comfort, and be able to carry almost twice as many people as the current TTC streetcars. The new LRVs will have leading-edge technology for better reliability and performance.

The existing facilities for maintaining and storing the streetcar fleet are the Roncesvalles and Russell Carhouses (near Queen Street West and Roncesvalles Avenue, and at Queen Street East and Connaught Avenue respectively). These facilities are both over 80 years old. These existing facilities will not support the maintenance requirements of the new LRV fleet due to limitations like building roof height and distances between tracks. There is also a lack of adequate storage track capacity at the existing facilities.

The construction of a new Maintenance and Storage Facility is required to provide the necessary vehicle maintenance, repairs and servicing inspection and provide adequate storage capacity for the new LRV fleet. The site will need to be approximately 9 ha.

The TTC investigated fourteen potential sites across Toronto, and determined that six of these sites met the property requirements. Of these six sites, three were identified as having the highest potential of meeting the project schedule. In order to identify a preferred location for the new facility, the TTC consulted with the public in the neighbourhoods around the six potential sites.

Consultation

Consultation included a series of three public information centres (PICs). All information presented at these meetings was also published on a project web page (toronto.ca/involved/projects/lrv/). The public had the opportunity to submit comments at the meetings, by mail, electronic mail (LRVYard@toronto.ca), or telephone.

Notification

The public was notified of the project and PICs by newspaper advertisements, fliers, and direct mail or electronic mail sent to existing contact lists. The public was directed to the project web page and asked to contact staff for more information at that time.

The newspaper ad appeared in the Beach Mirror on June 12, 2009. A copy of the ad as it appeared is found in Appendix A.

Fliers were delivered by Canada Post ‘premium’ unaddressed admail within the project study area. This study area was bounded by:

  • The Don River to the west;
  • Gerrard Street East and Kingston Road to the north;
  • Victoria Park Avenue to the east; and
  • Lake Ontario to the south.

The same notice was sent by electronic mail or Canada Post (first class mail) to City of Toronto (Public Consultation and City Planning) contact lists for other projects within the study area.

A map of the study area (including potential sites) and copy of the notice are found in Appendix B.

Public Information Centres (PICs)

PICs were held on:

  • 16 June 2009 at the Jimmie Simpson Community Centre, 870 Queen Street East, and
  • 17 and 18 June 2009 at the City of Toronto Fire & EMS Training Centre, 895 Eastern Avenue.

The events were each open from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. During the events, a series of 37 display panels were presented. These outlined the rationale for the project, requirements of the new facility, the fourteen sites that were investigated, screening criteria, the six potential sites and preliminary designs for each of the three sites of highest potential. The display panels are available online at toronto.ca/involved/projects/lrv/pdf/2009-06-16-n-17_lrvyard_panels.pdf. The public was asked to submit formal comments using a comment sheet, included in Appendix C.

In total, 184 people ‘signed in’ to the public meetings. 86 comment sheets were submitted at the events, as well as by mail and electronic mail afterwards. All original comment sheets are archived by the City of Toronto’s Public Consultation Unit.

Comments

The comment sheet (Appendix C) asked the public to submit comments about each of the three highest potential sites, as well as the three lower potential locations. A summary of the responses submitted follows. Comments on each site are divided into positive, negative and other comments.

Site 1: Ashbridges Bay

Positive Comments

More than two dozen respondents indicated that this site is most preferable, and two more indicated that it was their second choice

  • Over twenty participants felt that this site had the least impact on residential area
  • A few respondents indicated that the area is already industrial
  • A few suggested that there are no existing businesses to relocate
  • A couple of participants that that this location would facilitate public transit service to a new area, and a few more indicated that this location would easily be connected to Queen’s Quay and Queen transit routes. A few respondents suggested that this location would require the least amount of additional track to be laid.
  • A couple of respondents suggested that soil contamination on the site means that it can’t be used for much else

Respondents also indicated that this site is:

  • not too close to the lake;
  • most economical;
  • an accessible location;
  • and not currently accessible to public;
  • better than Eastern; and
  • has potential to open up development on Commissioner’s St.

Negative Comments

  • About a dozen participants were concerned about a loss of park space
  • Nearly ten respondents simply said “NO”
  • Around a half-dozen respondents felt that tracks would complicate traffic and make the Leslie-Lake Shore intersection busier
  • Several indicated that the Leslie-Queen intersection is too congested
  • A few participants suggested this is one of the major access points or gateways to the waterfront trails and Leslie St. Spit
  • A couple of respondents indicated that the site does not belong to City (Port Authority) and this will be a problem. A couple of more suggested that the land use is strictly limited to sewage treatment.
  • A couple of participants suggested this location would be bad for employee health, as it is too close to the wastewater treatment plant
  • A few respondents indicated that this site was promised as a park 8 years ago
  • A few also suggested that this site is too close to people
  • A couple of respondents suggested that heavily contaminated soils will become TTC’s problem if this site is chosen

Other negative comments about this site were: 

  • it would be very costly;
  • traffic must be laid out better;
  • if Lake Ontario Park is being considered, High Park should be as well;
  • there would be no opportunity for future expansion of the facility;
  • the existing view of the green berm would be replaced with overhead wires;
  • the city may need the site for expansion of the wastewater treatment plant;
  • this site should be used for commercial development;
  • this site should be a park to hide the wastewater treatment plant;
  • it is not appropriate to have noisy yard near marinas and sailing clubs; and
  • the Leslie-Lake Shore intersection is too important for a transit garage.

Other Comments

  • Must preserve existing bike paths and improve for cyclists
  • Consider putting the facility underground with a park on top/green roof
  • No objection if site is made attractive
  • How will LRVs cross Lake Shore?
  • Consider a grade separation under Lake Shore
  • Consider widening Leslie
  • Seems like the proposed berm and landscaping would be fine
  • Good design, preserves access to trails and routes
  • Consider siting the facility further south on Leslie
  • Need to address walking and cycling conditions on Leslie Street north of Lake Shore Boulevard – make a Green Connection with a Complete Street
  • OK, as long as you don’t try to make it part of the park plan
  • These are already busy and noisy roads

Site 2: Eastern Avenue

Positive Comments

  • A few respondents indicated that this site was most preferable, and one more indicated that it was their second choice
  • A few participants suggested that this site is the most accessible
  • Participants also indicated:
  • there would be no impact to traffic on Lake Shore Boulevard;
  • this site would be most cost effective;
  • and expansion of the facility in the future may be possible.

Negative Comments

  • Nearly 40 respondents indicated that this site is too close to a residential area
  • Around 20 participants suggested that they “didn’t fight big-box for a maintenance yard” or asked how this proposal would be employment lands. Nearly ten more suggested that there would be a major fight from community.
  • Nearly 20 simply said “NO”
  • More than a dozen respondents said that traffic at the Eastern-Carlaw intersection would be too congested
  • Nearly a dozen respondents suggested that Toronto needs film studio space, and this proposal would affect three studios
  • Almost a dozen participants said that noise, vibrations or dust from sharp turns would affect residents and film studios
  • Several participants said that the city would need to expropriate private property that could otherwise be better used
  • Several respondents suggested that this site should be designated for community uses. Tow more suggested that it should be used for small businesses.

Participants also said:

  • the site does not meet the prescribed schedule;
  • the site doesn’t belong to the city;
  • construction would be too disruptive;
  • the area is zoned for film studios;
  • the existing uses would require relocation;
  • the facility would create a ‘dead zone’ next to a community;
  • the facility would require too much track;
  • the proposal would cut off potential access to lakeshore trails from Eastern Avenue;
  • house values will drop;
  • the chance of collisions would increase; and
  • public transit doesn’t provide return to city in taxes/revenue.

Other Comments

  • Premium required to have this site ready is financially irresponsible when there are other sites
  • How would this impact bike lanes?
  • Why are there no trees hiding it from Lake Shore?
  • Can landscaping hide the facility in this location?
  • Does the garage meet the City’s job density requirement?
  • Surprised to see that LRVs would not enter from Lake Shore, as this is away from homes
  • Argument for this site contradicts the City’s position re. Smart Center

Site 3: TEDCO-Unwin Avenue

Positive Comments

  • More than two dozen respondents indicated that this site was most preferable, and several more indicated that it was their second choice.
  • Two respondents simply said “YES.”
  • Nearly ten participants indicated that this site was good because it is far away from people
  • Nearly ten participants suggested that this development could provide the opportunity to service this area which would lead to redevelopment
  • A few respondents suggested that this area is already industrial
  • A few respondents suggested that a neighbourhood could grow around this development

Respondents also indicated that:

  • this is the only location that will not destroy a neighbourhood; this site would have the least impact on residents and users of the Martin Goodman trail;
  • the facility would make recreation more accessible;
  • expansion of the facility in the future would be possible;
  • this site would have the least impact on traffic;
  • this site is a better choice than Eastern; and
  • this site is already owned by the city.

Negative Comments

  • Nearly ten respondents suggested that this site is too far from the existing track network, and a couple of more indicated that it would cost more to access existing streetcar lines.
  • Several respondents claimed that this site is too close to the lake, Lake Ontario Park or the waterfront
  • Several suggested that this site should be designated for passive/recreational uses
  • A couple of participants indicated that this site is too close to the area to be redeveloped
  • A few participants suggested that the facility would be too disruptive to traffic on Carlaw Avenue
  • A few participants suggested that this proposal was not part of the Portlands Development Plan
  • A few respondents simply said “NO”
  • A couple of participants also suggested that the LRVs crossing the railroad track would be a significant technical problem

Respondents also suggested:

  • this proposal is completely counter to city’s plan for waterfront;
  • this site is not a good option;
  • the portlands should be left alone;
  • this would destroy potential for marina development on the waterfront;
  • the noise would impact Leslie Street Spit ecology;
  • the site is adjacent to spring nesting site for migratory birds;
  • this would bring too much traffic for portlands; and
  • it would be difficult for LRVs to cross Lake Shore Boulevard.

Other Comments

  • Additional cost for track would be worth it
  • Any proposal in this area should take into consideration the potential of a swimming basin
  • Create TTC stops to service the outer harbour
  • This site is preferred only if the plan is to keep this area industrial
  • Unsure how this fits in with development plans, as it is presented in Isolation

Other Sites:

Positive Comments

  • Nearly ten participants suggested that all three of these sites need to be seriously considered, they are all good options
  • Concrete plant is good, but may be expensive
  • Cascade and Concrete Plant would be better than Eastern or Unwin
  • Cascade and Concrete Plant seem like good choices
  • Concrete plant is second choice
  • Concrete plant is best site south of Lake Shore
  • Hearn plant as good or better than Unwin location
  • Cascade is the first choice – would redevelop this area while maintaining industrial land
  • Hearn is the best location
  • Cascade seems logical
  • Cascade, concrete plant – provides activity all day, access water and is transitional between concrete and studio/mixed use
  • Concrete Plant is close to existing infrastructure, far from residential, uses less desirable employment lands

Negative Comments

  • These sites are too close to waterfront redevelopment area Crossing Lake Shore is a major problem

Other Comments

  • A few participants suggested that other areas of the city should be considered. A few others indicated that Toronto’s dumping ground is in the east end, and that this area does “its fair share” for the TTC.
  • The facility should be built to LEED standards
  • Where is the money to buy any of these sites?
  • Why is this being rammed through with so little notice?
  • Other options are more negative and are unrealistic
  • Consider building two facilities, each half the size
  • There is not enough information to provide comments
  • Bring the line closer to the lake so people can use it
  • Add bike racks to the vehicles
  • Restrict light industrial areas to Cascade, Concrete Plant and Hearn sites
  • Consider putting the whole facility underground with a park on top
  • Not in favour of any of the sites proposed
  • It is infuriating that the TTC sold the Wychwood yard for art space in an upper income neighbourhood while putting more facilities in Leslieville
  • The new streetcars should not cause traffic jams or accidents
  • The maintenance yard is welcomed, but not at the expense of the film industry
  • Why is the impact on business a prime consideration but not impact on residential?
  • Criteria to be used to select the preferred location are insufficient
  • In addition, 110 electronic mail messages were also received as part of this consultation. These messages are all archived by the City of Toronto’s Public Consultation Unit.

The overwhelming majority of these messages were advocating against the selection of Eastern Avenue as the preferred site for the Maintenance & Storage Facility.

Next Steps

This report on Public Consultation informs the Toronto Transit Commission of the feedback from the public. Comments will be used by the TTC to help determine the preferred location for the Maintenance & Storage Facility. A recommendation will be brought forward to City Council by the City Manager on behalf of the TTC, at which point Council will determine their preferred location.

A Transit Project  Assessment will then be performed on the preferred location to consider various design alternatives.

For more information, please contact:
Mike Logan, MCIP RPP
Senior Public Consultation Co-ordinator
mlogan@toronto.ca
(t) 416-392-2962
(f) 416-392-2974
(TTY) 416-397-0831

1 Correction made March 3, 2010 by the author.