Citizens Concerned About the Future of the Etobicoke Waterfront

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Waterfront West LRT

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April 28, 2009

The official announcement about the new round of consultations has been released by the TTC. The terms “LRT” and “dedicated right of way” are no where to be found in the flyer.

In a departure from the usual TTC open house format, there will be a presentation followed by Q&A at the evening meetings. It certainly appears that this new round of consultations will deal with real, practical transit improvements rather than the LRT that ate Mimico.

Click here to view the TTC flyer (pdf)

We certainly hope that this whole page is made redundant!

April 15, 2009

A major shift in direction for the Waterfront West LRT was announced yesterday. They have clearly been listening to the almost universal condemnation of the LRT plan. The plan has shifted to looking at real problems and real solutions.  This is the press release:

    April 14, 2009

    Councillor Mark Grimes stops LRT Plan dead in its tracks.

    Councillor Mark Grimes requested the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) reinitiate the Community Consultation process for proposed transit improvements on Lake Shore Blvd West, The TTC has agreed to the request and the consultation process will begin again at meetings scheduled for May 2009.
    Ward 6 Etobicoke-Lakeshore Councillor Mark Grimes said, “1 know that public transit is an important part of Toronto’s Sustainable Transportation Initiative and I support that — but any proposal to change the community’s transportation options must be sensitive to local issues and planning objectives.”
    The TTC has agreed to work closely with the community to develop a concept that supports the local economy, while also improving residents’ travel options through the introduction of high-quality, sustainable, transit with more attractive and inviting streetseapes. With the anticipated increase in population, the aging of the current streetcar stock, and vehicles that are not fully accessible, upgrades to the vehicles and service are required.
    Councillor Grimes has stated: “I have put the brakes on the LRT plan. At this time there are no specific plans as to how or what will be implemented on Lake Shore Blvd. I have ensured that concepts originally shown to the community regarding Light Rapid Transit (LRT) no longer form the basis for the transit upgrades. We are starting the consultation process over.”
    Issues now open for discussion will he the use of replacement streetcars along the route, location of transit stops, use of a dedicated right of way, streetscape, accessibility of vehicles, speed of service, and other topics relating to transit. Councillor Grimes has thanked the TTC and its staff for stopping to listen to the residents and their willingness to adapt the consultation process for the Lakeshore community. The TTC will host preliminary consultation meetings on May 11th at the Mimico Adult Learning Centre and May 12 at the Assembly Hall, Mark Grimes urges all members of the community to attend, voice their opinion and be involved in this important process.

    Media Contact
    Councillor Mark Grimes
    Ward 6- Etobicoke-Lakeshore
    (416) 397-9273

View the press release as a pdf.

We applaud the efforts of Councillors Grimes, Giambrone, and Milczyn for their involvement in quashing this ill-conceived plan.

February 20, 2009

The TTC has agreed to re-open public consultation on this project. The following press release was sent out on Wednesday:

February 18, 2009

Councillor Mark Grimes
Re: Ward 6 - Proposed Lake Shore Blvd LRT

    Councillor Mark Grimes today requested the Toronto Transit Commission
    to re-open the Light Rapid Transit Community Consultation process for
    the Lake Shore Blvd portion of the proposed service. The TTC has agreed
    to the request.
    Following concerns raised by the local community regarding the timing
    and poor weather conditions for the original community open houses,
    Councillor Grimes requested the Toronto Transit Commission to direct
    staff to hold two further community meetings in conjunction with the
    Councillor’s office. The meetings will provide residents and other
    stakeholders with the opportunity to review the proposed LRT and provide
    input into the plan.
    Councillor Grimes is a strong supporter of Public Transit and a supporter
    of transit that meets the needs of the local community. To this end the
    Councillor requested that no further action on the proposed Lake Shore
    Blvd LRT be undertaken until community consultations are completed.
    Councillor Grimes is very pleased with the support shown by the
    Commissioners to the integrity of the community consultation process.

December 2008

As part of the Transit City initiative, the TTC is studying the idea of replacing the existing Lake Shore Blvd streetcar with LRT (Light Rail Transit) line in a dedicated right of way in the middle of the road from Parklawn Road to the end of the existing streetcar line.

While we applaud efforts to improve our public transit system, we have some serious doubts about this plan. We fear that an LRT in this area will have a negative effect on both transit service and neighbourhood businesses.

This is the area being studied:

WWW Study Area

Two public information sessions were held in December 2008 for area residents to become informed and make comments on the proposal. The TTC put out a 2 page newsletter explaining the project and announcing the meetings.

You can find the TTC’s web page devoted to this project here.

Along with some detailed drawings of the route, there was also a long series of display boards. These are also available on the TTC site, in two sections: Part 1, and Part 2.

A very interesting slide is page 5 in section 2:

WW LRT Slide 5

This shows the width of the existing road right of way through the study area versus the preferred width of right of way (36 metres). Note how little of the area has the required width (green), and how much is a full 10 metres (3 lanes) too narrow (in red).

CCFEW submitted the following comments on the plan (click here for pdf version):

    We oppose the extension of the Waterfront West LRT beyond the (proposed) Park Lawn Road Loop. This proposed extension will cut the north part of the community off from the lake without solving the two key problems with the existing streetcar service.

    The two biggest problems with the current streetcar are frequency of service and speed to downtown. An LRT is unlikely to do anything for the frequency. It may even make it worse, since larger cars will run less frequently in order to maintain capacity utilization. Speed to downtown is largely dependent on what happens on Queen Street, east of Roncesvalles. An LRT line from downtown to Roncesvalles or the Humber Loop is needed to address this problem. A dedicated right of way solves the problem of streetcars being held up by cars, but that is not a problem in the Mimico to Long Branch area. The streetcars often delay the cars, but not visa versa.

    The TTC analysis identifies the majority of the corridor as 7 to 10 metres narrower than that required to maintain on-street parking and two vehicle lanes in each direction. On-street parking is critical to the businesses on Lake Shore Boulevard. The low parking utilization identified in the parking study is a symptom of the existing weak retail environment, not the parking required by the thriving retail environment we all desire. Disruption during construction would magnify negative impacts on business.

    A dedicated transit right of way would create a physical barrier separating one side of Lake Shore Boulevard from the other, one part of the community from the other, and one part of the community from the lake. It is very ironic to contemplate spending a large amount of money to cut a community off from the lake at a time when the City is studying the removal of the Gardiner Expressway to remove a barrier to the lake. What we need is to make Lake Shore Blvd our neighbourhood main street. What the LRT would deliver is a transit corridor.

    The needs of the community would be far better served by terminating the LRT at or near the existing Humber loop, and serving Mimico, New Toronto, and Long Branch with a separate streetcar. Alternatively the LRT could be extended to Sherway along Queensway. The shortened streetcar route would facilitate reliable, predictable service intervals, and the LRT from the Humber loop would eliminate the bottleneck to downtown.

    A further suggestion to enhance the community and build ridership is to create a local streetcar fare. This could be a reduced rate fare for travel on that streetcar line only, with a full fare required only to get a transfer to buses or the LRT. That would encourage people to take the streetcar for short local trips, shop locally, and leave the car at home.

    We recognize that light rail can provide a development stimulus in the right location. However the proposal for light rail in Lakeshore is likely to reduce transportation service and damage the accessibility and viability of businesses through parking removal and limitation on traffic circulation. Main Street Lakeshore would be economically undermined. Modifications to the existing streetcar system provides a far superior solution at a fraction of the cost. Saving tax dollars, it is the better stimulus for economic development.

    Thank you for the opportunity to comment and we will be glad to make a presentation at a suitable juncture in the process.

Click here for a copy of the letter (pdf)

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