As the Metrolinx Davenport Reference Panel wraps up its work this Saturday, I continue to have serious concerns with Metrolinx's plans to build a large rail bridge over our community. Building on my Motion that was passed at Toronto City Council in April, I wrote to Metrolinx last week outlining some of my concerns.
Some of the key issues that I have asked Metrolinx President & CEO Bruce McCuaig to consider immediately include:
- I believe that it is in the public interest to fully understand the decision behind recommending an overpass, as opposed to a below grade option to bypass the Davenport Diamond as it does appear that there could be significant community benefits that would arise from a below grade option. The first time the City received Metrolinx's two feasibility studies on this project was April 16, 2015. As a result, City Planning staff require adequate time to complete a technical review of the work completed to-date and determine whether City objectives have been addressed in the decision making process that flowed from these studies.
- The City has recently advised Metrolinx that a new GO Station at Bloor Street and Lansdowne Avenue is in the City's Official Plan and is a key issue. I strongly believe that a GO Station at Bloor Street and Lansdowne Avenue as part of the Barrie GO Line is necessary for local residents, the surrounding community and to enhance network connectivity. This stop would help alleviate the ridership pressures on the Jane, Keele, and Dufferin TTC bus routes, while providing another vital link for transit riders on the Bloor-Danforth Subway Line.
If this station does not get built, it would represent a missed opportunity by Metrolinx to enhance network connectivity for both GO Transit and the TTC, and to increase the economic competitiveness of the Greater Toronto Area. In addition to the local community benefits, there are employment lands located nearby that would benefit from such a transit connection. I am sure that you and I can both agree on how important it is to provide more public transit options for riders.
- As you may be aware, Toronto City Council has directed the City's Chief Planner, Jennifer Keesmaat to ensure that land-use planning (including grade separation underground or above ground) and urban design considerations are part of the Environmental Assessment process being carried out by Metrolinx for the rail grade separation project. The process to consider how design excellence is embedded in the project solution has yet to be realized, as no scope has been developed and no process appears to be in place to co-ordinate this with the technical review. It is important that the local community also receives the best possible benefit from this project. In light of those points, a related point is how much will Metrolinx contribute for public realm improvements as part of this project?
- Development of an agreed Project Schedule in consultation with City staff, that provides sufficient time for technical review iterations, and community input and discussion on the options, analysis, community benefits, and design excellence of the preferred solution.
I look forward to meeting with Metrolinx in the near future to discuss my concerns and other issues that have been raised throughout this process. I will continue keep you informed every step of the way as we obtain more information.
Having previously informed you about Metrolinx plans to construct a large rail bridge on the east side of our Junction Triangle neighbourhood, I have taken quick follow up action to ensure that land-use planning and urban design considerations are part of the EA process being carried out by Metrolinx.
Due to its height and bulk, this proposed bridge will create a significant impact on the surrounding, largely residential, neighbourhoods. The appropriate planning of this infrastructure must include measures to mitigate these impacts. Toronto's City Planning department has a critical role in diagnosing the potential impact to resident and community interests within the EA process, as well as identifying urban design opportunities afforded through the proposal. Among the significant concerns directly affecting city and community interests as a result of this proposal are: vibration, community division, land-use, visual/aesthetic issues, compromised land development opportunities and public safety concerns.
I have taken a strong position on this issue and said that City staff must have an opportunity to identify what new measures can be invoked to mitigate negative community impacts and foster better use of the transformed landscape. The pressure from my office and area residents, along with City staff expertise will help ensure that we maximize the positive local outcomes from this regional transportation project.
You can view my motion that was passed here.
This week you may have read a Toronto Star article, been alerted to news posted on neighbourhood list-servs or reviewed information on the Junction Triangle website that Metrolinx has announced plans to construct an elevated rail structure through our neighbourhood. I share the concerns of local residents regarding these plans and, although it is still early in the process, I have begun advocating to ensure the best possible outcomes from this project.
The plan, as proposed, is for Metrolinx to ramp up their tracks along the Barrie GO line from just north of Bloor Street and gradually elevate the tracks to more than 8 metres in order to bypass the CN Rail crossing north of Dupont.
This project will no doubt have major impacts on our area. While another long period of construction will leave us with a permanent visual landmark, there is also huge potential on the ground once the tracks are raised. We may be able knit our neighbourhoods back together with improved street connections, new and enhanced public spaces and world-class public art. Looking at these possibilities is the task of Metrolinx Residents Reference Panel. I will be watching this process closely and guarding against unrealistic expectations. It is critically important that any expectations that Metrolinx raises for community improvements are accompanied by the necessary funding to make them into reality.
I remain hopeful and open-minded after speaking with Metrolinx staff and having my office represent community interests at the DIGIN meeting on March 11th. At the same time I will be aggressively pursuing Metrolinx to ensure that the promised community benefits are funded and the corridor is electrified.
There will be more public meetings on this topic and I will keep you informed every step of the way. To ensure the most timely updates, please follow me on Twitter or on Facebook.
Metrolinx has facilitated a new paratransit agreement promoting easier and more convenient cross-boundary travel for people who use mobility aids.
The paratransit agreement, which is now in effect, eliminates the need for mobility aid users to undergo multiple eligibility processes when they cross municipal borders.
If you are a mobility aid user registered with a paratransit agency in the municipality you live in, you are now automatically eligible for paratransit services with the following seven other transit agencies as well:
- Burlington Handi-Van
- Durham Region Specialized Services
- Hamilton D.A.R.T.S
- Milton access+
- Oakville care-A-van
- Peel TransHelp
- TTC Wheel-Trans
- York Mobility Plus
Customers can also use paratransit service to get to and from an accessible conventional transit service, like GO Transit, VIVA or Züm.
As the regional transit authority for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), Metrolinx is dedicated to making the services it provides fully accessible to people with disabilities.
For more information about the agreement, or to learn how Metrolinx is meeting our accessibility goals, please visit: http://www.metrolinx.com/en/aboutus/accessibility/cross-boundary_travel.aspx?utm_source=accessibility_group&utm_medium=email_mx&utm_campaign=cross-boundary_travel
‘Dot_JPG’ chosen from handful of submissions to be displayed in three places along the West Toronto Rail Path
Originally from the Ottawa Valley, Mitchell Chan first moved to Toronto in 2006 with hopes of making it in the city as an artist.
“I had this notion I was going to pursue art as a career, and I really had no idea what I was doing,” he said.
He spent his first couple of months in the city on the second floor of the Gladstone Hotel on Queen Street West. Fast forward six years, and Chan will have his artwork displayed across the street from where he began his art career, thanks to an open call for public art pitches from Metrolinx and the City of Toronto’s StreetARToronto program.
Chan’s concept, a series of mosaic murals titled Dot_JPG, was a collaborative effort with his partners at Studio F Minus, a public art and design firm, Bradley Hindson and Michael Simon. Dot_JPG was chosen from a handful of submissions to be displayed in three places along the West Toronto Rail Path, around the Douro bend and Queen Street West noise wall.
“To be able to go from some anonymous wide-eyed artist to being able to leave my mark here is really exciting,” Chan said.
The art will be a series of tile mosaic murals that will mirror the landscape directly behind it.
The tiles, made of glass, will transform the Liberty Village and Queen Street West neighbourhood into “brightly coloured, pixelated patterns” that will give an effect of a glitch in technology, he said.
“We’re creating awareness of the digital filter of our perception, but we’re documenting it in a way that we view the world right now and that’s important because that’s going to change,” Chan explained.
“It will exist as a digital record of 2014; as the neighbourhood changes this will no longer line up with the background and that becomes another kind of glitch.”
The mosaics will work as a kind of optical illusion that will shift and change as people get closer or farther away from the mural.
“It’s kind of a tactile interactive thing that people can figure out on their own by interacting normally with it. You don’t push buttons, you don’t tweet at it, you just walk,” Chan said.
The concept was inspired by how society’s connection and near dependence on technology has framed our perception of the world around us. According to Chan, we’re constantly viewing it with a technological filter, which can be a phone or tablet. He added he’s not here to comment on whether it’s a positive or a negative for society.
“What we (Studio F Minus) want to do is always make sure we’re aware of it (the technological filter) and draw attention to it,” he said.
The art submission was well received by the jury, who on the Go Transit website said the concept “pushes the definition and expectation of street art in Toronto, mixing contemporary and traditional techniques and materials to create three vibrant murals that are as instantly pleasing as they are rich with deeper artistic meaning…The jury feels these visually arresting wall treatments will be thoughtprovoking and pleasing for years to come, reflecting the complexity and creativity of the community.”
The concept was first brought to the community in November during a consultation night. According to Chan, the community liked it enough and they made some changes from their comments, but wasn’t offended, he couldn’t think of a better crowd to show the art to.
“If there’s any neighbourhood where you’re going to pitch a conceptual public art piece this is it,” the former Parkdale resident said.
“You have a very sophisticated audience here, an audience that’s been living with art for a long time.”
He said the submission is a bit conceptual and doesn’t fall in line with the majority of public art splashed around the city that serves as “eye candy” he said. Chan said he hopes the approval of his art project will encourage more conceptual art to be showcased through the city’s StreetARToronto program.
“It’s a real struggle to inject discourse, concept and dialogue into public art projects,” he said.
“So to start making headway on that it’s really exciting.”
The mural’s construction will begin in spring.
Residents view designs, hear about concepts at gathering hosted by StreetARToronto and Metrolinx
A few local residents who braved Monday’s wind storm got a sneak peek of potential artwork for an outdoor mural project along the West Toronto Railpath.
StreetARToronto ((StART) in conjunction with Metrolinx held a community consultation meeting, Monday, Nov. 24, so residents could view preliminary artwork by the short-listed artists. The art installation would be on the south side of the railpath’s Bloor West entrance and on a popular piece of land at the foot of Ritchie Avenue.
Artists presented their initial concepts for comment and feedback and will take the information into consideration as they work towards a final submission.
“These are two areas near and dear to my heart,” said Metrolinx spokesperson Kelly Thornton. “This is the celebratory phase for us. Your thoughtful comments will be taken into account as the artists finalize their designs.”
The mural project will help combat graffiti vandalism, said Carolyn Taylor of StART while helping to “bring out the character of neighbourhoods.”
Each artist was given 10 minutes to present their ideas during the community consultation held at the Crossways Employment and Social Services on Dundas and Bloor Streets West.
“It’s an honour for me to present my work,” said artist Paul Aloisi, who says he takes a site specific approach to his work while taking into account the context and conditions of a place. “Each of my projects are pretty different from one another.”
With 20 years experience painting murals, Aloisi said he uses diverse mediums to create public art. Research is key to each of his projects. He says he has reached out to the Friends of Ritchie Avenue Parkette, a group that is “really involved in engaging the community.”
Aloisi said his mural would be dependent on input from the community. He’d use recycled materials. His talent is finding beauty in the mundane, he said.
Veteran graffiti artist Elicser Elliott has been painting for the past two decades.
“I work with the community every time I paint,” he told his small, but attentive audience.
Since he spends so much time painting within a particular neighbourhood, he says he can’t help, but incorporate real life characters into his paintings.
“I like to delve into the history of what happened there,” he said of each site.
Matt McNaught or KWEST as he is known, got his start painting freight trains.
“This space along the rail corridor was unoccupied. That was our place to express ourselves as kids,” he recalled.
McNaught, who lives and works in the area, said this project is his chance to give back to the community. His approach, he said, was to think ‘What do my kids want to see?’
Colour and animals. He is proposing a mural of colourful abstract.
Oliver Pauk is proposing a mosaic of coloured and mirrored Plexiglas that will provide a different experience in both daylight and after dark. It will rely on LED technology and solar power.
“We’re excited about the opportunity,” said Pauk, who lives in the neighbourhood.
Residents were curious about the longevity of the solar power and asked about the durability of the Plexiglas. Batteries for the solar power would likely have to be changed at some point, Pauk said. The Plexiglas durable, yet if one piece was damaged, it could be removed and replaced, he said.
This article originally posted online at insidetoronto.com as part of Bloor West Villager publication
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.