Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Open Letter to Scarborough Councillors - December 2018

Dear Councillors McKelvie, Lai, Karygiannis, Thompson, Ainslie and Crawford

Many of you support building the Sheppard Subway and the Scarborough Subway Extension. So do we.

But none of us want to see huge parts of our city destroyed by the TTC for 5, 6 or 7 years while they build stations with their ‘cut and cover’ technique.

We want you to please move a motion at the next TTC Board meeting.

Please ask Staff to report back on the issues and opportunities raised in this letter.

This is how the TTC builds stations
on a subway line. 
Can you image this along Sheppard…
at Victoria Park, at Warden, at Kennedy…
all at the same time…for 5, 6 or 7 years!
Is there a better way?
Can we get a subway system without destroying our communities and businesses?
The answer is YES and experts in the TTC and their tunneling consultant Hatch know all about it.

Edward Poon of the TTC and experts from Hatch went to the North American Tunneling Conference in Washington D.C. this past June. They presented a paper advocating a better way to build subways. Their conclusion:

While the cost of a large diameter running tunnel between stations is higher
compared to twin tunnels, the savings in the avoidance of cut and cover construction (stations
and track cross-overs) more than offsets the larger tunnel cost in the running structure.
The estimated project cost saving at this very preliminary stage was approximately 25%
of the capital cost.

What are they talking about? We call it the Barcelona Technique because that’s who pioneered it.

The TTC has typically built our subways by boring out two tunnels running parallel using tunnel boring machines [TBM’s] of 6 meters diameter. That’s how they built the recently opened Spadina-Vaughan subway extension. For the Scarborough Subway Extension they are thinking about using a single larger TBM of around 10.7 m diameter.

                   Twin 6m Diameter Tunnels                                       One 10.7m Diameter Tunnel

The single 10.7m TBM excavates maybe 60% more earth but saves the cost of building passageways between the twin tunnels for cross over tracks, service and emergency passages.

The Barcelona Technique takes this one step further. It uses a 13m diameter TBM. That’s wide enough for trains to run side by side, do all the cross over tracks and emergency passages they need AND… the key benefit…at stations, one train can run on a deck above the other, as shown in the diagram below.  

There are three HUGE advantages

1.       No ‘cut and cover’ excavations at stations = ZERO disruption to the street above;

2.       A large part of building each station takes place INSIDE the tunnel. The rest takes place BESIDE the street;
3.       With a little forethought future stations can be opened later if there is not sufficient demand today.
None of this is possible with the TTC’s ‘cut and cover’ station building technique.

This is a picture from Barcelona’s Line 9 under
 construction. They are building the deck within the tunnel so one train can run above the other.  This will become a station when they’re done.

They can build major portions of the stations while the TBM continues up ahead excavating the rest of the tunnel.
 They can build major portions of the stations while the TBM continues up ahead excavating the rest of the tunnel

How do people get down to these new stations? You acquire a property next to the street and excavate down and then laterally into the station. The shaft handles escalators/elevators, emergency stairs, plus all the pipes and wires needed for the new station. ZERO disruption to the street.

Picture on the right is how Barcelona did it.

They are excavating the shaft down to track level beside the street for the escalators, elevators and emergency stairs.

Canadian tunneling companies are way out in front of this industry: they just pioneered boring a diagonal shaft for escalators down to the Moscow subway. Can we do that here?

What do other tunnel building experts say about the Barcelona Technique?
Here’s what AECOM’s chief tunnel engineer Verya Nasri says:

Both the time savings and minimization of roadway right- of-way disruptions, due to cut-and-cover construction, translate into significant construction cost savings and a more manageable public relations effort.

Here’s what Michael Schatz, Managing Director of Hatch says:

You get a better solution for less cost. 

Is any other city using the Barcelona Technique?
Yes. Just this past year alone, the cities of Calgary and San Jose-Bay Area Rapid Transit systems researched everything you could possibly know about subway building and chose the Barcelona Technique. They did not want to tear up their downtowns for 5, 6 or 7 years.

What’s the catch? If TTC Engineers know all about this why haven’t they told us?
It costs more to excavate a large diameter tunnel. The savings come when you build stations.
It’s a clear winner for extending the Sheppard Subway with perhaps 5 or 6t stations along the way to Scarborough Centre.

For the Scarborough Subway Extension, they have knocked out all possible stations along the route.
Take away the stations and there can be no savings! But no-one in the whole world has ever gone to the expense and disruption of excavating a 6 kilometer subway tunnel…and built no stations along the way! We will be the laughing stock of the world subway building industry.

Serve the people of Scarborough: put the stations back on this line at Lawrence and at Eglinton-Danforth. If someone persuades you there is not enough demand at present for these stations, the Barcelona Technique allows you to ‘rough’ them in. They can be opened later with minimal disruption when demand warrants. You can’t do this with the TTC’s inflexible cut and cover technique.

You need to hear from Edward Poon, Verya Nasri, Michael Schatz, the people from Calgary, San Jose/BART, and Barcelona. They believe the Barcelona Technique is the ‘better way’ to build subways.

Please put this letter on the agenda of the next TTC Board meeting.
Please move a motion directing staff to give you a full and fair comparison of the Barcelona Technique versus the TTC’s typical ‘cut and cover’ way of building subways

Yours truly,

Lorne Ross for the Glen Andrew Community Association.

CC: Luke Robertson, Chief of Staff, Office of the Mayor.


Thursday, December 27, 2018

Big Plans for Scarborough Town Centre Mall

 Report From Lorne Ross

The mall has filed plans to tear down the Cineplex building and build a new one to the north of the former Sears store. At the same time, the old Sears store will be converted into three levels of smaller retail outlets.

Below is an artist’s rendering of what it will look like. The view is looking north toward 401, with the existing Sears store on the left and the new Cineplex on the right.


Demolishing the existing Cineplex clears that part of the mall property for the city to build the new much larger bus terminal along Triton Road. The new cinema will be further away from all the construction noise and vibration for the 6 or 7 years it will take the city to builds the new subway station/bus terminal.

What’s really interesting to Glen Andrew people is that in filing this application the mall owners have shown the city their long term vision for developing all the land they own around the shopping mall. With the exception of the former Scott House [now Baton Rouge] they own all the land north of Triton Road between Brimley and McCowan. All the existing stores like Best Buy, Jack Astor’s and Canyon Creek are tenants.

Below is a drawing they filed with the city. It is very difficult to understand, in large part because all the existing buildings we might know today are gone AND they have bought into the City Planning Department’s idea of changing most of the roads.

The coloured shapes are 35 hi-rise apartment towers.

Green =               3 buildings at 20 storeys.

Grey =                  5 buildings at 30 storeys.

Brown =               21 buildings at 40 storeys.

Red =                    4 buildings at 50 storeys and two at over 60 storeys.

Total 35 hi-rise residential towers.

 In addition there are +\- 15 buildings along Progress Avenue and the west side of the mall in the 6, 8, 12 and 15 storey heights. 

And one 25 storey office tower in the south east corner, on the north side of Town Centre Court near the YMCA.

The light green areas are possible public parks.

This is a VERY preliminary plan.

The owners have NOT asked for approval.

It is simply an illustration of the owners’ present thinking. It would take years for any of it to be approved and built.

If you wish to see the original drawings and reports filed to support demolishing-rebuilding the Cineplex, you can read these on-line or save them as you wish.

Crank up your internet and go to:

The studies and reports for all applications in Scarborough Centre Ward are available at:

1.       Click on “Application Information Centre”.

2.       When the new page comes up, click on the blue square that says “Application information Centre”;

3.       When the big map of Toronto comes up, click on the ‘Ward’ box and chose ‘Scarborough Centre’ then click on ‘Search’;

4.       A whole bunch of blue pins will appear on the map.

5.       Zoom in and click on the one you want to see.

6.       Click on ‘Learn More’ and a box will come up.

7.       Click on ‘Supporting Documents’ and a list of all the reports that the owner filed will come up.

Lorne Ross for Glen Andrew Community Association.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Municipal Elections

Election Day is Monday, October 22, 2018 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Advance Vote:
You can vote in advance from Wednesday, October 10 to Sunday, October 14 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

To vote, you must show identification that has your name and qualifying Toronto address.

Additional Information:
Visit toronto.ca/elections/myvote. This is an online tool where you can find everything you need to know to vote.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!

Celebrate today and give thanks for all the great gifts we enjoy in Canada.

Here are some Canadian Thanksgiving facts:

– Canadian Thanksgiving is always celebrated on the second Monday in October, earlier than the American Thanksgiving, which is held in November. Since 1971 it has coincided with Columbus Day in the U.S.

– Thanksgiving is a statutory holiday in Canada, except in PEI, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

– Although Thanksgiving falls on a Monday, many have their dinner and family get-togethers on the Sunday.

– While it is widely believed eating turkey makes you sleepy, many experts believe it is actually the carbohydrates that are part of the Thanksgiving meal that causes you to feel tired.

– There are 80 cranberry farms in B.C. with many destined for the Thanksgiving table, and while it is doubtful cranberries were served at the first Thanksgiving meals, the indigenous people used them for cooking and dyeing and introduced them to the pilgrims.

– While pumpkins are a staple of many Canadian Thanksgiving meals as well, they also originated with indigenous people and it is not known if they were present at the first Thanksgiving meals. However, there are recipes for pumpkin pie that date back to the 1650s.

– Canadians consumed 145.5 million kg of turkey in 2010, with 3.1 million whole turkeys purchased last year for Thanksgiving. This was about 30 per cent of all whole turkeys sold during the year according to the Turkey Farmers of Canada.

Source: Global News

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Speed Limit Reductions Scarborough Centre

City Planning Staff are recommending that speed limits on roads in and around our Centre be reduced.

Here’s what they are telling our Councillors:

Vision Zero: Toronto’s Road Safety Plan identifies speed reductions as a key safety measure to reduce the occurrence of pedestrian or cyclist fatalities. Reducing the speed limit by 10 km/hr significantly improves the outcome of a pedestrian involved in a vehicle crash. Table 1 identifies proposed speeds for streets within Scarborough Centre to enhance road safety for all users and modes.

Table 1: Existing and Proposed Speeds in Scarborough Centre Street(s)
Existing Speeds
Proposed Speeds
Ellesmere Road, Markham Road, Bellamy Road, McCowan Road, Brimley Road
60 km/hr
50 km/hr
Progress Avenue, Corporate Drive, Bushby Drive
50 km/hr
40 km/hr
Proposed Local Streets
30 km/hr

Extract from Scarborough Centre Transportation Master Plan\ April 2018

This will be considered by our Councillor Glenn DeBaeremaeker and the other members of Scarborough Community Council on May 2nd.

Tell Glenn what you think:

Glenn: This is a great idea, just what we need.

Glenn: This is a horrible idea. Don't approve this.

Toronto City Hall
100 Queen Street West, Suite B31
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Telephone: 416-392-0204
Fax: 416-392-7428

Wednesday, April 18, 2018


April 13th 2018

Letter to City Planning Staff Attention Emily Caldwell, MCIP, RPP


Based on questions and comments from GACA members at our March 26th community meeting, the following issues are of concern to the community focusing on vehicular access, height and massing, density and community facilities as set out below.

1.       Vehicular Access

The property is so small and has such limited frontage on the public streets so close to the intersection that it must operate both vehicular accesses as in-right/out-right only driveways.

I am aware of only one developed property in our Centre which is restricted to only in-right/out-right access:

The Lay-Z-Boy furniture store on Progress Avenue. Not a lot of traffic compared to 262 residential apartments plus commercial and the Lay-Z-Boy store will soon be demolished for a TBM insertion shaft.

 There are a few other driveways restricted to in-right/out-right but these are secondary access such as the one from Progress to Canyon Creek and the secondary exit from the Tridel Consilium Towers garage onto the ramp up to McCowan signals.

 This kind of restricted access is terribly inconvenient to residents and service vehicles. Some will ignore the movement restrictions and try to force their way in/out with left hand turns.

 The driveway to/from Brimley is supposed to serve all delivery-pick-up for the apartments and the small bit of commercial floor space. This is also the garbage-recycling truck access driveway and serves some visitor parking.

I’m sure the condo board can schedule garbage-recycling truck pick up during off peak times. But deliveries by FedEx, Canada Post, Purolator, Meals-on-Wheels etc, all of which are becoming more prevalent ways of ‘shopping’ occur at all times of day.

Residents in need of the TTC’s wheel trans service to get to/from work travel during ‘rush hour’  which for Brimley and Ellesmere is about 2 ½ hours each weekday morning and evening.

Elementary age school children living in this building will more than likely be bused to/from schools in the broader community each day. The Public Board estimates 262 units would generate about 58 public elementary school children. I have not seen an estimate from the Separate School Board.

None of these vehicles will use the Brimley driveway. They are going to load-unload in the public streets.

 The Brimley driveway will be all but useless even for in-right/out-right during the extended parts of the day when traffic is backed up southbound right up the hill and through the lights at Omni-Golden Gate.
Typical Evening Traffic Southbound on Brimley Road at Ellesmere.
Backed up to and sometimes through the signals at Golden Gate

The ‘main’ driveway to/from Ellesmere will be controlled access with a card reader or some similar device.  The Ground Floor Plan in the architectural submission indicates there are 37 visitor parking spaces at this level within the controlled access garage. It’s not clear where the control gates are located on this driveway but the total distance to the garage door from the street line is +\- 14 meters. We’ve all seen it: someone has forgotten/misplaced their parking card, a visitor buzzes the person they are visiting and no-one is home. More residents’ vehicles arrive and pull in behind them. What happens? How many vehicles does it take before someone is stuck blocking the sidewalk or hanging out onto the through lanes on Ellesmere? Who backs out over the sidewalk?

The sort of “Who cares about vehicle congestion? Everyone walks cycles or takes transit anyway!” attitude of some architects and planners may work in downtown Toronto. That part of the city has an incredibly rich transit environment and all sorts of ‘walk to/cycle to’ commercial and employment opportunities.

Those conditions do not exist in Scarborough. Even with the subway extension to our Centre and eventual full development of our Centre as a dense urban area, arterial roads like Brimley and Ellesmere are still vitally important to all our residents as to way to work, shopping, day care, and a thousand other trips each year.

Glen Andrew is concerned therefore that this site is too small to appropriately handle the vehicle access requirements of 262 residential units.