On April 5, the Provincial government announced a new initiative to make travel on the GO network more affordable.
I am happy to share that beginning in early 2019, the province will be reducing the cost of GO Transit trips to just $3 for PRESTO users who are travelling under 10 kilometres anywhere on the GO network. This means all GO Transit and Union-Pearson Express trips anywhere within the City of Toronto will be reduced to $3. The $1.50 discount for PRESTO users transferring between the TTC and GO Transit or the UP Express will also remain in effect.
With proceeds from Ontario's cap on pollution, the province will also provide fare integration discounts of up to $1.50 per ride for anyone who travels between the York, Durham, Brampton and Mississauga transit networks and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC).
This initiative is an essential step towards fare integration for SmartTrack, as it will lower the cost of transferring between transit systems and will make travel easier in and around the GTA for the tens of thousands of people who use public transit every day. Reduced fares will also ease congestion on subways and buses by offering transit users more options for travel.
At the December 8, 2016 Metrolinx Board Meeting, the preliminary concepts for the new SmartTrack and GO Regional Express Rail (RER) stations across Toronto were unveiled. The concepts include those for the approved Bloor-Lansdowne GO Train station and the West Queen West/Liberty Village SmartTrack/GO RER station.
It is important to note that these concepts are highly preliminary and that continued study and work on these stations will likely result in changes to their design. I look forward to working with you and Metrolinx throughout the design process as we work to expand transit for our community.
To view the preliminary design concept for the West Queen West/Liberty Village SmartTrack Station and the Bloor-Lansdowne GO Station, please click here.
Metrolinx is carrying out work to expand the north side of the Dufferin Street Bridge at Queen Street which carries the Kitchener GO Transit Corridor. Expanding the bridge will support the ongoing work to bring electrified SmartTrack and GO Regional Express Rail transit service to the West Queen West community. This work will also accommodate the space required for the proposed southward extension of the West Toronto Railpath. Metrolinx expects to complete this project by June 2017.
In order to ensure the safety of the public and construction crews, and to complete the bridge expansion in a timely manner, Dufferin Street will be closed to vehicles and pedestrians from Queen Street West to Peel Avenue from September 12, 2016 to December 31st, 2016. During this closure, traffic will detour via the old "Dufferin Jog" route of Peel, Gladstone and Queen.
During this work, residents and businesses in the area can expect an increase in noise and construction activity. Crews will also need to conduct work in the evening and overnight periods when trains are not operating for safety concerns. Overnight lighting will be focused away from homes when possible and noisier work will be undertaken during the daytime to reduce evening disruptions. This accelerated work schedule aims to mitigate community impacts and reduce the duration of work.
Metrolinx will be hosting a community drop-in session at the Carnaby Condominium at 10 Minowan Miikan Lane (formerly 11 Peel Avenue) on September 29, 2016 from 5pm to 7pm with representatives present to answer your questions about this project. You can read the complete project notice for this project by clicking here.
As this work is carried out, I will keep our community informed of any updates to this work. As this is a Metrolinx project, I encourage you to contact Jennifer Capan, Community Relations and Issues Specialist at Metrolinx for any questions or concerns via telephone at 416-202-4732 or through email at [email protected]
Earlier this month, the Minster of Environment and Climate Change gave final approval as part of the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP) for Metrolinx's Davenport Diamond Grade Separation Project. Though the TPAP process has concluded, I will continue advocate to Metrolinx and fight for the community building principles outlined in our community petition and open letter. I will keep you informed with updates to this project as they become available. To view my previous updates on this project please click here.
Recently, the Province of Ontario and Metrolinx announced an agreement in principle has been reached with Canadian National Rail to initiate further GO Regional Express Rail enhancements along the Kitchener GO Corridor. This agreement also provides a framework to initiate the planning and analysis work needed to advance the "Missing Link" freight rail bypass in consultation with stakeholders and the community. The "Missing Link" project provides an unprecedented opportunity to move Canadian Pacific Rail's freight traffic off the CP tracks that run through Toronto (which form the northern border of Ward 18) and to increase rail safety along this important corridor.
This initiative also opens a new potential for increased transit service in Toronto and across the region. I voted to direct City staff to engage in discussions with stakeholders and government partners to move this important project forward. I look forward to reviewing their feedback when they report to back in 2017.
The issue of bell ringing from GO Transit and Union Pearson Express trains at Bloor GO/UP Station has produced many sleepless nights and early morning wakeups for those who live near the station. With plans to expand transit service along the Kitchener GO Corridor, it is critical the issue of bell ringing be addressed by Metrolinx and Transport Canada, the regulatory body responsible for rail corridors. City Council this month adopted my recommendations to have the City Manager 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.
This report will include recommendations to City Council about what steps and requests can be taken to eliminate the use of bells and whistles at existing GO Train Stations. I look forward to reviewing these options as we seek to have Metrolinx and Transport Canada move to address this important matter.
As I mentioned last month, Metrolinx announced a new GO Station on the Barrie Line at Bloor and Lansdowne. The station site itself is subject to further analysis of corridor service implications and a commitment by the City to provide an accessible, weather protected, pedestrian connection to Lansdowne Subway station.
In light of this, I moved a motion at City Council that requested the City manager and CEO of the TTC to report back on the financial and logistical conditions imposed by Metrolinx and on potential solutions to finance the investment needed to make this connection, which is included in the City's Official Plan. I look forward to updating you as this issue progresses in order to provide the rapid and regional connections Davenport residents need to access jobs and attract investment into our community.
New GO Barrie Line Station Announced for Bloor and Lansdowne, Davenport Diamond Petition Gains 2,000 Signatures, New City Staff Report Release
As many of you are now aware, I have been working alongside a coalition of 9 different community groups and other elected representatives in advocating for the best possible community outcome from Metrolinx's proposed Davenport Diamond project. On Tuesday it was announced by the Province that a GO Train station at Bloor and Lansdowne on the Barrie GO Line is a part of their new station plans.
This is a strong victory for our community and it wouldn't have been possible if not for the work of many community members who came together and helped to advocate for our community. Thank you to everyone who has engaged on this issue and to the Province for making this announcement. While a station has finally been committed, there is a lot more work to do in order to ensure that our community fully benefits as part of this project.
Through our collective efforts over three weeks in May and June, my office alongside these 9 community groups managed to collect over 2,000 signatures in support of a petition that calls on the Government of Ontario and Metrolinx to:
- develop a comprehensive vision that includes a design competition;
- address noise, vibration, and safety issues and concerns;
- create a multi-modal station at Bloor;
- establish cycling and walking connections throughout including connections to the West Toronto Railpath, the Green Line, and an elevated connection to Earlscourt Park;
- devise a long-term maintenance plan and endowment fund for community programming;
- resolve concerns relating to Dupont St;
- provide the community with a date commitment to electrify the corridor; and
- guarantee that no more than the proposed 36 trains per day will be in use until electric trains are operational on the corridor.
MPP Cristina Martins has read the petition in the Ontario Legislature and added her name to it as well. You can read the petition in full by clicking here.
A new City staff report on the Davenport Diamond has also been released and it contains the following staff recommendation that City Council will be debating and voting on:
That the City continue negotiations with Metrolinx to secure a new multi-modal GO Station at Bloor Street, a Community Improvement Plan for the study mitigation area, a multi-use path and connection south to the West Toronto Railpath, a design solution and mitigation strategy for the rail corridor intersection at Dupont Street, and to participate in the project Community Advisory Committee.
The report can be viewed in full detail here: http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2016/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-94293.pdf
Finally, the 30-day review period as part of the Transit Project Assessment Process is ongoing and is scheduled to be completed on June 27, 2016. As part of this process Metrolinx has released their Environmental Project Report (EPR). The EPR and more information on the 30-day review period can be found on the Metrolinx project website here: http://www.metrolinx.com/en/regionalplanning/rer/davenport.aspx
Once again, thank you to all of the community groups for working with me and so many others in presenting a real and achievable community vision for this project. I truly believe that when our community comes together, we can accomplish so much. I look forward to updating you on our work in the near future.
In my recent response on the Scarborough Subway debate, I said:
"I am now working to turn Council's attention to the downtown relief line and addressing the local circumstances and preferences of downtown west.