Project Purpose

  • TTC’s eight existing bus garages are over capacity today; a new facility is needed in north Scarborough.
  • McNicoll Bus Garage is part of TTC’s commitment to improving transit service and meeting growing ridership demand.
  • Will be third new bus garage in past 20 years (Mount Dennis 2008, Eglinton/Comstock 2002).
  • The McNicoll facility will improve operating efficiency by reducing out of service “dead-heading” time which can be re-invested into “in service” transit improvements for TTC riders.
  • Scheduled to begin construction in 2017 and be operational in 2020.

Consultation

  • The TTC hosted three public meetings on November 27, 2013, May 14, 2014 and February 5 2015, as well as with adjacent property owners, to share details about this project. Interpreters were provided at each event. Consultation and draft Environmental project reports are available on the McNicoll Project website.
  • TTC also hosted separate meetings for residents at the Bamburgh Condo and Mon Sheong Foundation. Some suggestions from these meetings were incorporated into the revised design. For example, the diesel tanks were relocated in the design to address concerns from the community about potential noise during refuelling operations.
  • Traffic, emissions and noise were raised as concerns. The TTC addressed each of these through the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP) during public meeting and in the project’s Environmental Project Report (EPR). TTC will ensure all emissions and noise levels are well within Ontario Ministry of the Environment standards.
  • Some residents were concerned about how the TTC refuels its buses. TTC operates eight other bus garages and has a wealth of experience and an excellent safety record on managing fuelling operations at these facilities.
  • TTC consulted with Toronto Public Health (TPH) to ensure that community health concerns were addressed. Comments are reflected in the Environmental Project Report (EPR) which was posted at on the project website and reviewed by the Toronto Public Health and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. The review by TPH concluded that impacts to public health from this project were insignificant.

Traffic

  • The majority of buses will access the facility during off-peak periods having minimal impact to congestion in the area. The buses are a very small fraction of total traffic volume in the area, and improved transit is part of the solution to the City’s traffic challenges.
  • Reducing the time it takes for a bus to get to its route and return to the garage (dead heading) means more resources will be available to improve service on local routes, including the 43 KENNEDY and 42 CUMMER.
  • The City of Toronto is extending Milliken Boulevard (formerly Redlea Avenue), which will help relieve heavy traffic on Kennedy Road. Construction of this extension is scheduled to be completed in 2016.

Project Need and Construction

Q. Why is the McNicoll Bus garage required?
A. Transit ridership has reached record levels with a projected 540 million riders in 2014. In 2013, 240 million trips were taken by bus. To help meet this demand, TTC purchased 120 buses which will be delivered by 2018. They cannot be stored and maintained at existing bus garages because they are already at capacity.

TTC currently has a maintenance backlog due to limited space at existing garages. As a result of this maintenance backlog, 30 buses have been removed from service. This lack of maintenance space is hindering TTC’s ability to maintain service and improve it. A new bus garage is urgently needed.

Q. Is funding secured for this project?
A. Yes. $181M for the total project cost is available as part of the 2015-2024 capital budget.

Q. When is construction scheduled to begin?
A. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2017 and be completed by 2020.

Q. Who will be constructing the garage?
A. TTC issued a Request for Proposal to the following three pre-qualified proponents: EllisDon-IBI Team, PCL Constructors Canada Inc. and Buttcon Limited/Eastern Construction Joint Venture. Each are preparing submissions which will be evaluated by TTC. An award of this project is expected by the end of 2016.

Q. Can any of the existing bus garages be expanded to accommodate growth?
A. TTC has reviewed this and determined that the existing facilities could not be expanded to service the additional vehicles.

Q. Has the project been approved by the City?
A. TTC received direction from its Board and from City Council to proceed with the Transit Project Assessment.


Air Quality

Q. Will air quality be impacted by the new facility?
A. The project was subject to the Transit Project Assessment Process which includes studying air quality, traffic impacts and noise. All new TTC buses must meet the highest emission standards in North America for diesel engines. The TTC will be required to mitigate to keep levels within Ministry of the Environment thresholds. It is not possible to improve transit without facilities to store and maintain transit vehicles. Improving transit is part of the solution to improving air quality.

Q. Will the Air Quality Reports be available to the public?
A. Yes. TTC completed an Air Quality Assessment Report which was posted on the TTC project page in July 2014. TTC has also undertaken a Human Health Risk Assessment and provided it to Toronto Public Health for review. Updated reports are included in the EPR as part of the Transit Project Assessment Process.

Q. Who is completing the Air Quality and Noise Reports and what are their credentials?
A. Novus Environmental Inc. are specialists in the fields of air quality, sound and vibration. The team assigned to this project have a combined 20 years’ experience on air quality and noise, having worked on over 100 transportation projects including transit, roads and bridges.

Q. How was air quality data recorded for background concentrations?
A. Data was collected from the four closest MOECC monitoring stations to the site, located in the north, west and east parts of Toronto, as well as downtown. The station with the maximum concentration for each pollutant and averaging period was used in the assessment of combined concentration predictions. A similar approach was applied to measure Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) (i.e. exhaust from cars). For some VOC’s, measurements were taken at MOECC monitoring stations in Egbert and Windsor, Ontario using the worst case concentrations for each contaminant. Using the worst case baseline for background concentrations is the best approach to ensure cumulative air quality impact levels are not underestimated.

Q. Will the facility comply with MOECC air quality requirements?
A. Yes. Findings suggest that the majority of the background emissions originate from sources other than the proposed TTC facility. The emissions from the garage would be very small in comparison to the existing levels. MOECC approval for air quality is a requirement for the project.

Q. What type of fuel will buses be using?
A. TTC buses use “ultra-low sulphur” diesel fuel which has 97% less sulphur than conventional diesel. This fuel is sometimes referred to as clean diesel. TTC does not use biodiesel fuel in any of its vehicles.


Noise and Vibration

Q. Has TTC studied noise levels?
A. Yes. A Noise Study was completed as part of the draft Environmental Project Report and posted on the TTC project website in July 2014. To ensure noise levels are within MOECC thresholds, mitigation measures can include rooftop acoustic barriers, a false façade and an acoustic wall. The final selection of mitigation measures will be determined during the detail design stage, and will be subject to MOECC review through an Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) application.

Q. What has TTC done to date, to minimize noise?
A. After consulting with the local community, including the Mon Sheong Long Term Care Facility, the building design was adjusted and the refuelling station was relocated to the far east side of the property away from residents.

Q. Is there a vibration study? What does the modelling suggest?
A. No. A vibration study was not undertaken as impacts from the facility are anticipated to be negligible. Bus operations are not anticipated to cause any vibration.


Traffic and Safety

Q. How will the new facility impact traffic at Kennedy and McNicoll?
A. A Traffic Impact Study was completed which showed the facility will have minimal impact on this intersection. The majority of buses will access the facility during off-peak periods resulting in very little added congestion in the area. A copy of the Traffic Impact Study was included in the EPR.

Q. How will the City’s extension of Milliken Boulevard impact this project?
A. The extension of Milliken Boulevard will help relieve heavy traffic on Kennedy Road. Construction of this extension started in 2015 and will be completed by the end of 2016.

Q. Will local transit service be improved?
A. Yes. Reducing the time it takes for a bus to get to its route and return to the garage (dead heading) means more resources will be available to improve service, including on local routes such as the 43 KENNEDY and 42 CUMMER.

Q. What measures are in place to ensure vehicles are mechanically sound?
A. In addition to provincially required semi-annual and annual mechanical inspections, TTC also has a rigorous maintenance and safety program. This includes daily, weekly, monthly and annual checks of systems and components. Vehicles are also subject to emission testing every two years.


Safe Fuel Storage

TTC has an exemplary safety record at each of its existing fuel storage facilities. The McNicoll Bus Garage will be constructed and operated to the same stringent standards.

Q. Why are above-ground diesel reservoir tanks proposed instead of underground tanks?
A. Above ground tanks allow for the early detection of fuel leaks and thus pose a low environmental risk. Underground tanks make detection of leaks more difficult.

Q. What are the safety features in the tank design?
A. The tanks have double steel walls (sealed tank within another sealed tank) and are fire rated. If the primary tank was to develop a leak, it would be safely contained within the secondary tank. The space between the tanks contains a vacuum and is equipped with a fuel leak detection system, so any perforation of the primary tank is quickly detected.

Tanks have a two-hour fire rating. This rating protects the tank contents from fire for two hours, which will provide time for emergency services to respond in the event of a fire. Tanks have also passed impact-testing and will be protected with a combination of jersey barriers and bollards. All tanks are ULC- approved fire rated. (ULC Standards develops and publishes standards and specifications for products having a bearing on fire. It is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada.)

Q. Is this the only bus garage in Toronto?
A. No. TTC operates eight bus garages, including Wheel-Trans; six of these have above-grade tanks and plans are in place to upgrade the remaining two by replacing them with above-grade units. Many of these facilities are located in proximity to residential areas.

Q. Is there a danger to having the diesel tanks by the GO Rail line?
A. Although the facility is adjacent to the GO Rail corridor, the track alignment is straight with no cross-overs, switches or other special track work typically associated with train derailments. As well, the Milliken GO station is less than 1 km from the garage site; northbound trains will be decreasing their speed as they approach the station and southbound trains will be very early into acceleration. In short, trains are not expected to travel past the bus garage at a significant speed. GO Transit has provided TTC with guidelines for minimum setbacks from the tracks; the TTC will be complying with these recommendations and not constructing the building or tanks within this minimum setback zone.

Q. Will diesel fuel ignite at room temperature?
A. No. It must be atomized or compressed before it can ignite. In fact, if diesel spilled on the ground, a lit cigarette or match would not ignite it.


Site Selection

Q. Why was this site selected?
A. A garage is required in this area to meet the growing ridership needs. There are currently more bus garages on the west side of the city (Queensway, Arrow Road, Mount Dennis, Wilson) than there are on the east side of the city (Birchmount, Malvern, Eglinton). The site also meets the minimum requirements including, size, industrial zoning and location (proximity to the routes being served).

Q. Were other locations considered when the site was acquired in 2005?
A. Yes. Two sites were identified along McNicoll Ave. however one did not meet minimum size requirements and thus the current site was selected. Considering a site further east from the routes that are being serviced would increase operating costs. The current site is estimated to yield over $1M per year in operating budget savings over sites located further east.

Q. Are there existing sites in the immediate area that would meet TTC’s minimum requirements for a bus garage?
A. No. A recent search identified one available site immediately east of the proposed location however the site is approximately 14 acres which is inadequate.

Q. How about sites outside the immediate area?
A. Three sites were identified by Steeles Ave. E. and Tapscott Rd.; however they are on the fringe of the employment area and are therefore closer to residences. Two of them are adjacent to rail lines. They all have similar challenges to the current site. A new site further east would introduce additional challenges including added construction and ongoing operational costs.

Q. Can the TTC find an alternate site?
A. A switch to an alternate site would delay the project by at least three years. Although properties exist further east, they too are close to residential developments and the additional travel time to and from the bus routes would also have a greater negative effect on operational efficiency.

Q. What are the cost implications of a delay?
A. Cost would increase substantially, particularly if staff had to find an alternate site. In addition to the cost of purchasing a new site, the budget would have to include expropriation costs. Any delay would also be subject to escalation costs, which would amount to approximately $7 million/year (4% of project cost) in construction. This would be in addition to costs associated to lease/retrofit a temporary facility to support the new buses as they come on line.


Community

Q. Has TTC consulted with the community?

A. TTC hosted multiple meetings in multiple formats, including two public meetings on November 27, 2013 and May 14, 2014 to share details about this project. Chinese speaking interpreters were provided at each event. A third public meeting was held on February 5, 2015 as part of the Transit Project Assessment Process.

TTC also hosted separate meetings for residents in the adjacent condominium units and other local stakeholders including the Long Term Care Facility.

Here's what we heard: Concerned about noise from fuelling station.
Here's what we did: Relocated diesel tanks further away from the residents to east side of property

Here's what we heard: Concerned about traffic.
Here's what we did:Completed traffic impact study which showed minimal impact. Buses will operate during off-peak times - as early at 4:30 a.m.

Here's what we heard: Concerned about noise.
Here's what we did:Completed noise study. Will consider acoustic wall and other design changes to ensure levels are within Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) thresholds.

Here's what we heard: Concerned about emissions.
Here’s what we did:Completed an air assessment study. Clean diesel buses will have minimal impact to existing air quality. Levels will be reviewed by MOECC.

Here's what we heard: Concerned about diesel storage tanks.
Here’s what we did: Explained that tanks have double steel walls and are commonly used at other garages. They must meet stringent federal safety standards and are inspected regularly when in use.


Zoning

Q. Is there a zoning conflict, building a bus garage next to a Long Term Care Facility?
A. No. City Planning approved a by-law amendment in August 2004 for the adjacent Long Term Care Facility and the highrise residential development. The developers were advised that they would be constructing next to an industrial-zoned property. The City required that the following wording clause for offers of purchase and sale to be included as a condition of site plan approval.

“Future residents are advised that this development is in proximity to existing industrial facilities and industrially zoned lands whose activities may at times be audible and emit exhaust. These industries may legally expand their operations and/or hours of operations, including operations on a 24-hour/7 day basis and such operations at times may be audible which may affect the living environment of the residents, notwithstanding the inclusion of noise, vibration attenuation measures in the design of the development and individual units”.

Q. How can a Long Term Care Facility and a highrise residential development be located so close to industrial land?
A. The property for the Long Term Care Facility and the condo was originally purchased as industrial land. The proponents rezoned them in 2002 and 2003 to allow construction of these two complexes.

Q. Will TTC be swapping parking lots with the Scarborough Chinese Baptist Church to create a continuous property line?

A. On November 6, 2015, the City and TTC reviewed the implications of such a swap and determined that it would trigger significant zoning, Official Plan and policy changes. As a result, a swap for the purposes of a parking  lot is not being recommended.

Q. Will the TTC site require re-zoning?
A. No. The site of the new garage is zoned “Employment Heavy Industrial” which is appropriate for the operation of a transit facility.


Design

Q. How many vehicles will be maintained at the facility? Will there be outdoor storage?
A. 250 standard (40’) buses can be maintained at this facility and all storage and servicing will be done indoors. If articulated buses are maintained at the facility the number will be reduced.

Q. Will the facility maintain articulated buses?
A. The facility will be equipped to maintain both 40 ft. buses as well as the newly-acquired 60-ft. articulated buses.

Q. How many people will be employed at the facility?
A. Approximately 100 will work at the facility. An additional 400 operators will report there for their routes (over a 24 hour cycle).


Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP)

Q. What is it?
A. The TPAP is a provincially regulated process to review impacts of transit projects. It includes consultation with the community as well as an assessment of measures to mitigate negative impacts.

Q. When will it begin for the McNicoll Bus Garage?
A. TPAP was launched on January 29, 2015 with issuance of a Notice of Commencement. A Public Information Centre was held on February 5, 2015 as part of the consultation process. A Notice of Completion was issued on May 21, 2015. This was followed by a 30-day public comment period and a 35 day review period by MOECC.

Q. How long is the consultation?
A. Following 120 days of consultation, the Environmental Project Report is made available for 30 days for public review and comment.

Q. How are projects approved?
A. Following the public review, the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change determines if the project can proceed.


Q. Who should people contact for further information?
A. TTC has assigned a Senior Community Liaison Officer to this project. Lito Romano can be reached at 416-397-8699 or lito.romano@ttc.ca.