I would like to inform you that the City of Toronto's Design Review Panel will be reviewing Metrolinx's Davenport Diamond project on Tuesday April 5 at 11am in Committee Room 2 at Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen St W.
The Design Review Panel is comprised of private sector design professionals – architects, landscape architects, urban designers and engineers – who provide independent, objective advice to city staff aimed at improving matters of design that affect the public realm. This includes matters such as preserving the uniqueness of place, maintaining vitality, ensuring comfort and safety, and making new development compatible with its surroundings. The Panel provides advice for both private development and public projects, including advice on new urban design policy. Advice is based on professional judgment, understanding of good design principles, conformance with the Official Plan and other related documents (design guidelines, secondary plans etc.), and the design quality of the subject project.
Design Review Panel meetings are open to the public, however there is no opportunity for members of the public to ask questions or to make a deputation during these meetings. The public nature of the meetings is intended to ensure a transparent process, while also contributing to public education about design of the public realm. To find out more about the Design Review Panel, please click here.
Ward 18, Davenport
Metrolinx has issued Notice of Commencement for the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP) on the Davenport Diamond Grade Separation. A TPAP is a six month streamlined environmental assessment process to expedite the development of transit projects. The first four months of this process is when the proponent (Metrolinx) needs to formally consult stakeholders including the public and document those findings in an Environmental Project Report (EPR). To find out more about the TPAP process please click here to read an in-depth guide from the Province of Ontario.
Metrolinx has organized community drop-in sessions to give residents an opportunity to directly ask questions and to record your feedback as part of the formal record for the project. The drop-in sessions are taking place on Wednesday February 24 from 11am to 1pm at the Perth-Dupont Library (1589 Dupont St), Friday February 26 from 11:30am to 1:30pm at MPP Cristina Martin's Office (1199 Bloor St W), and on Saturday February 27 from 12pm to 2pm at the Perth-Dupont Library (1589 Dupont St). It is also my understanding that they will be organizing a public meeting to discuss this project further.
The Bloor Improvement Group (BIG) has also organized a meeting for Metrolinx and two different residents groups to present to the community about the work that they are currently doing. There will also be a question and answer session for the benefit of those attending. The meeting is being held on Wednesday March 2 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at the New Horizons Tower (1140 Bloor St W).
I have been working hard in advocating for the best possible outcome for our community ever since Metrolinx proposed this project back in March 2015. To see my previous updates on this project please click here. I encourage you to participate in this process, to ask any questions that you may have, and to share your thoughts with Metrolinx as part of the TPAP process. You can view the Metrolinx project website by clicking here.
On February 18, 2016 I sent a letter to Metrolinx President & CEO Bruce McCuaig reiterating many of our community's calls over the years asking for affordable fares and commuter options on the Union Pearson Express. As some of you may have seen in the news, Metrolinx and the Province have listened to our calls and the calls of many others from all across our city by reducing fares on the UP Express and creating opportunities for commuters to use the line. This is a welcome step and something that I know many of you will appreciate. Fares on the UP Express for one and two stops will now be the same as GO fares, meaning that it will now cost adults $4.71 to travel one stop and $5.02 for two stops using your Presto card. Children under 12 years of age and under are able to ride for free and seniors/students will be able to ride at discounted GO fare levels. For more information and a full fare breakdown, please click here. Please read the below letter to see what I wrote.
Earlier this week on Monday January 18, Metrolinx held a public meeting to present preliminary design work on options to remove the crossing and to provide an opportunity for residents to ask questions and provide feedback. It was great to see hundreds of engaged and passionate community members attend to share their views on this proposed piece of transit infrastructure that will impact our community for the next 100 years. As you can see in the photo, the room was full.
During the meeting I had the opportunity to share some of my thoughts with the room. I acknowledged Metrolinx who has come back with some changes to their plans and also MPP Martins who acknowledged and supported residents' calls to delay the TPAP process.
As I mentioned at the meeting, I still have some outstanding concerns with this project including but not limited to:
- No commitment to build a station at Bloor St W
- Safety concerns over crash walls to protect our community
- No commitment on conducting an international design competition
- No commitment on connecting the proposed multi-use trail to the West Toronto Railpath
It is important to point out that a step was missed in this process, where the City and the community was not initially consulted on the various options to bypass the Davenport Diamond. Our community has been clear that we recognize the need for expanded transit infrastructure across the GTA but we also deserve to have been consulted on the options at the start of this process and not afterwards.
If you missed the meeting, Metrolinx has posted their design plans here. I am working with local residents groups, relevant stakeholders, City staff, Metrolinx, and the Provincial government to fight for the best possible outcome for our community. As always, you can view my previous updates on this project by clicking here.
Many of you are now aware through my regular e-newsletter and website updates on Metrolinx's proposed Davenport Community Rail Overpass - a 3 story rail bridge being proposed to bypass the Davenport Diamond near Lansdowne Ave and Dupont St. I have been working hard to represent the interests of our community ever since we found about this project back in March 2015 - successfully moving two motions at City Council that got City staff involved in the assessment of this project in April 2015, and for Council to request for a delay and to endorse a list of key issues identified, including requesting that Metrolinx address and properly fund them in July 2015.
As a result of Metrolinx announcing in November 2015 that they will be moving forward with the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP) for the overpass option in January 2016, City staff submitted a report to last week's Council meeting on this issue. At that meeting, I presented 1096 resident petitions collected by Options for Davenport opposing a bridge and asking for cooperation on an option that benefits our community and Metrolinx.
Following the vigorous debate on this project, City Council voted by a margin of 38-1 to oppose the overpass grade separation option within the Davenport Rail Grade Separation TPAP and to communicate to Metrolinx that it supports a tunnel option for this rail grade separation. This is now the City's official position and it will also be submitted to the Provincial Minister of the Environment and Climate Change with copy to the Environmental Commissioner for Ontario.
The City Manager will be reporting back to Council on Metrolinx's response to Council's position. The Chief Planner will also be reporting in early 2016 on the "Missing Link" initiative and its merits as a key element of the freight rail network serving the City and the GTA. The "Missing Link" would connect the CP and CN rail lines to the west of Toronto, essentially creating a bypass route north of the city for freight rail. If this is pursued by the other levels of government, it will make our community safer by eliminating freight train traffic (including oil tank cars) from travelling through our community. You can view the Council decision on this item, the report submitted, and recent correspondence between the City and Metrolinx by clicking here.
I would like to highlight that although City Council has opposed the overpass option, ultimate authority including any decision to start, stop, or delay the project rests with Metrolinx and the Province of Ontario.
The reality is that there are challenges with all the options, but based on the significant planning issues and community impacts that have been identified to-date and due to the lack of commitments from Metrolinx; City staff and Council view the tunnel option as the one with less long-term impacts.
You have my full commitment that I will continue fighting for the best possible outcome for our community and to keep you informed. Our community deserves no less.
You can view a history of my updates on this issue by clicking here.
I am pleased to report to you that City staff have submitted a follow up report to City Council regarding Metrolinx's proposed Davenport Community Rail Overpass project. I am looking forward to this report being discussed and voted on at the upcoming City Council meeting, taking place on December 9 and 10, 2015.
To read the report and recommendations made, please visit this link: http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2015/cc/bgrd/backgroundfile-86443.pdf
This report is a result of my efforts throughout this year to involve City Planning staff to ensure that the City and our community receives an expert opinion on this proposed Metrolinx project, giving us the information needed to make a sensible decision for our community.
Please view this link for more information on submitting comments to City Council: http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/tmmis/have-your-say.htm. If you are submitting comments via e-mail, I encourage you to copy me at [email protected] so that I receive your comments right away.
Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me anytime via e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 416-392-7012. I sincerely hope that you have a wonderful weekend.
Yours in community,
As you will recall, Metrolinx communicated to the community on Thursday November 12, 2015 their decision to move forward with the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP) for the Davenport Community Rail Overpass in January 2016. This was contrary to the information that I received from the City's Chief Planner regarding Metrolinx's agreement to pause the TPAP Notice of Commencement until Spring 2016.
City Planning has prepared an urgent report that was just submitted to today's Planning and Growth Management Committee Meeting and it will be heard by the committee later today. The report recommends that:
"1. Planning and Growth Management Committee direct the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning Division, to further engage Metrolinx representatives to seek clarification with respect to the commencement of the Davenport Rail Grade Separation TPAP process in January, 2016, rather than commencement in Spring, 2016, as originally committed by Metrolinx, and report directly to the December meeting of City Council on the outcome of those discussions and any further action as may be appropriate."
You can read the report submitted here: http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2015.PG8.13
It is clear that after reviewing this report and in order to ensure the best possible outcome from this proposed project, more time is needed to complete this review and to work with the local community to achieve a balanced solution.
Additionally and separate from this process, the City of Toronto has undertaken a study with Mississauga, Milton, and Cambridge to "determine the feasibility, costs and business case of constructing a bypass route north of the City for freight rail on the CP line." The Chief Planner has reported that there is a compelling case to, "engage Metrolinx, CN, CP and the concerned municipalities in further discussion of this initiative." Building this "Missing Link" could "dramatically alter train activity at the Davenport Diamond and hence the need for a rail grade separation at this junction". This bypass route would also have the benefit of making our communities safer by potentially eliminating freight train traffic (including oil tank cars) from traversing through our community.
This is a project that will impact our community for the next 100 years and beyond. Recognizing this impact, I have consistently advocated for our community to have the arguments and information needed to make a sensible decision for our area. I hope that Metrolinx will work with the City and the community in achieving a project where everyone benefits. Our community deserves no less.
Many of you have taken the time to contact me over the phone, via e-mail, in the community, or at the various public meetings held to share your thoughts and concerns with Metrolinx's proposed Davenport Community Rail Overpass project. From the very start, I have shared your concerns and have worked with local residents' groups, elected representatives, City staff, and Metrolinx to advocate for our community. This included the two motions that I successfully moved at City Council which ensured that City staff got involved in the assessment of this project and to request that Metrolinx delay their timeline in order to provide for expert and community feedback.
I am now pleased to let you know that our City's Chief Planner, Jennifer Keesmaat has just sent me a memorandum with the following information on the Metrolinx Davenport Grade Separation Project:
- One of the biggest challenges since this project was introduced to the City and community in Spring of this year has been the lack of time available to consider the implications of the current proposal, including the internal background work that has led Metrolinx to the Elevated Option now under consideration. The reason time is needed now is because this is the "preliminary planning" stage in which significant concerns are addressed. Once the project advances to the Notice of Commencement for the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP), this legislated process provides little opportunity for significant input or to effect change. TPAP is essentially the final review period for the project.
- Based on the information that City staff have been able to review in the preliminary planning stage, City staff are not convinced that the Elevated Option, and its range of proposed mitigation, presents the best solution for the residents and businesses of this community and the City. Significant concerns remain.
- In recent days, discussions between senior City and Metrolinx officials have led to a commitment from Metrolinx to delay issuing Notice of Commencement for the TPAP until the Spring of 2016, in order to provide more time for community and City input to an appropriate solution. This is a significant step forward, and will provide the time necessary to table all of the information needed for informed decision making on the range of viable solutions, in order to advance the RER program on the Barrie corridor in a manner that is most conducive to rail operations and the residents and businesses of the Davenport area.
- As a result, the Chief Planner will not be advancing a report to Planning and Growth Management Committee. Instead, the City will continue the much needed due diligence review of the full range of potential solutions with the community, elected officials, and Metrolinx.
- The success of this project will require community input leading to solutions that address the City-building objectives for this area, as well as applicable Provincial policy. With this in mind, the City will be requesting Metrolinx form a team of Metrolinx/City/TTC staff with a mandate to develop a decision-making framework for this project that can be finalized with community input. The framework will then be applied by this team in a collaborative public process with the community and stakeholders over the winter months, to confirm the appropriate solution for this project.
- The City continues to support the Province of Ontario's overall commitment to transit expansion in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). The Regional Express Rail initiative is a bold plan for regional transit expansion, but it can also present significant City building challenges where major infrastructure incursions, such as the Davenport rail grade separation, impact established communities. Given these tensions and the importance of "getting it right", the City is fully committed to working with the local Councillor and other elected officials, the community and Metrolinx, to define a solution that meets the needs of our community, the City and transit expansion.
As your City Councillor, I would like to thank the many residents who engaged with me on this issue and I would like thank City staff for the work that they have done to date in assessing Metrolinx's proposed Davenport Community Rail Overpass project. As I said back in May, "I want us as a community to have the arguments and information to make a sensible decision for our area…the overpass will have an impact on our community for the next hundred years." I look forward to continue to work with you, local residents' groups, elected representatives, City staff, and Metrolinx to advocate for our community and to ensure that our community receives the best possible outcome from this proposed project. Our community deserves no less.
Ward 18, Davenport
I am pleased to inform you that Metrolinx has agreed to my reasonable request, which was passed unanimously at City Council in July to delay the EA process for the Davenport Community Rail Overpass project until late-October at the earliest. You can find out more details about the recent delay in this Toronto Star article.
This is a good first step and a sign of cooperation from Metrolinx as I along with many of my neighbours and the experts at the City of Toronto have requested that this delay take place. It is important for our community and the City to be able to have an opportunity to provide feedback, ideas, and requirements to Metrolinx. I also believe it is important for the public and the City to understand the reasons for proposing an above ground option as opposed to a below ground option.
I am looking forward to continuing this kind of cooperation as we discuss this project and how we can ensure that our community receives the best possible outcome. For an overview of some of the work I have done at the City to advocate on behalf of our community on this important issue, please visit this link. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact my office and I would be more than happy to help.
You might recall that back in April City Council passed my motion to direct Toronto's Chief Planner to ensure that land-use planning and urban design considerations are part of the EA process being carried out by Metrolinx on the Davenport Community Rail Overpass. As a result, the Chief Planner wrote to Metrolinx on June 16, 2015 with a list of key issues that City staff have identified after reviewing information they have received from Metrolinx to date.
I am pleased to report to you that today Toronto City Council has unanimously passed my most recent motion on this matter. Council has endorsed the list of issues as identified by the Chief Planner and has asked that Metrolinx address and properly fund them. Additionally, Council will be requesting Metrolinx to extend their project schedule by two to three months in order to provide for more time to address City staff and community comments before they start the Transit Project Assessment Process.
This project will greatly impact our community and therefore I hope that Metrolinx can accommodate my reasonable request. I have been working with local residents' groups, elected representatives, City staff and Metrolinx so that our community receives the best possible outcome from this project. It is my hope that we can continue to work together.