Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Minutes of GACA Meeting October 28, 2019

By: Eva D'Ornellas

Glen Andrew Community Association

Minutes of Monday, October 28, 2019

Welcome by Iain McLeod

Guests:          City of Toronto Councillor - Michael Thompson

                        Member of Provincial Parliament – Christina Mitas     

Topic:             Updates on the status of the Scarborough Subway Extension and the plans for dedicated Bus Lanes on Ellesmere Road from McCowan to Military Trail

Metrolinx turned down the GACA’s proposal of widening Ellesmere Road (east of McCowan) to a total of 7 lanes with 3 lanes each way for cars and buses with curb lane being an HOV lane and centre lane for left turns.

The current proposal is 4 lanes with 2 centre lanes of Ellesmere Road dedicated for Durham express buses only. This would leave a single lane each way for cars, trucksand local TTC buses and it will eliminate left turn lanes into the active commercial businesses and industrial units along Ellesmere Road between McCowan and Markham Road.

Community member requested a single page hand out be prepared of these proposals with diagrams available for the next meeting.

v  City Councillor Michael Thompson congratulated Glen Andrew Community Association on being a well run, active and engaged Community Association in the City of Toronto.

v  Councillor Thompson will advocate on behalf of the community and will ask City of Toronto transportation representative to look at GACA’s alternate proposal for the BRT- Bus Rapid Transit and give an analysis of it and see where it can go from there.

Community members raised questions that they would like Michael Thompson to ask about the BRT proposal such as whether saving 5 minutes on a bus ride is worth all the expense and turmoil this BRT proposal is creating.

v  Councillor Thompson supports grade separations, elevations where there are GO train lines. He supports building an under or over pass in such places as on Progress Avenue between Midland and Kennedy Roads.

v  Discussion on bike lanes commenced and that the City of Toronto will be building bike lanes on Lawrence Avenue in the future. Currently Scarborough Centre does not have a safe bicycle network. Councillor Thompson emphasized that in City politics, it is always a delicate balancing act trying to meet the needs and requests of various community members.

v  Discussion of City of Toronto’s Vision Zero program, trying to make changes to traffic that preserves pedestrian safety.45% of occurrences involving pedestrians  were in Scarborough last year. Mid block crossing is a problem.

v  Councillor Michael Thompson supports the 3 stop Scarborough Subway extension. Stops at Lawrence (Scarborough Hospital), Scarborough Town Centre and McCowan and Sheppard. This is supported by Premiere Doug Ford and Metrolinx executive Phil Verster as per recent conversations Councillor Thompson has had with them. The Scarborough Subway is on the agenda of the City of Toronto Council meeting tomorrow morning, October 29, 2019.

v  MPP Christina Mitas was introduced and welcomed. She addressed the GACA for the first time.

v  MPP Mitas is in favour of the 3 stop Scarborough Subway as well.  The next steps challenge is to get all three levels of government, municipal, provincial and federal to work together and provide the required funding support for the subway.

Expected completion date is 2029-2030.

Concern raised that if there is a change in government at any of the levels before the shovel is in the ground that there may not be ongoing support for this project by subsequent governments.

v  There is a meeting on Wednesday October 30, 2019 at Scarborough Civic Centre at 7:00pm about a Farmer’s Market in Albert Campbell Square next year, May 2020. Community members who support this initiative should attend the meeting.

v  Treasurer’s report provided by Tom Bozanis.

Motion to accept report as read made by Jack Law.

Seconded by George Murray.

Motion carried.

v  Motion to adjourn the meeting made by David Jackson

Seconded by Jack Law.

Meeting adjourned.

Minutes by Eva D’Ornellas

Interim Secretary

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Scarborough Subway Update - Starting from Scratch Again

At the recent GACA Meeting on October 28, we were given an update about the status of the Scarborough Subway by Councillor Michael Thompson and MPP Christina Mittas. Most of the information they gave has now been made available in the news media. 
Under the new agreed-upon proposal, the Ontario Government will pay $30 billion for the transit expansion which includes:
Ontario line  - a relief life
Scarborough Subway Extension
Yonge line extension
Eglinton West LRT.

Ontario Line
This revision basically throws out all the previous studies, proposals and analyses which the city had done over the last several years and which cost tax-payers over $200 million. This revised plan which has been approved would cost $10.9 billion for the Ontario line and take a longer, different route from Ontario Place to the Ontario Science Centre. Plans include completion date of 2027.

Scarborough Subway Extension
The three-stop Scarborough Subway extension line is on hold for 2-3 years. So, basically nothing is being done on the subway extension for Scarborough residents.

In our Meeting, many residents understandably expressed dissatisfaction with the plan for Scarborough. Many had worked on this plan, advocating and giving input. Unfortunately, Scarborough has been given low priority by the city and province.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019




At our June 24th regular Glen Andrew meeting, the Executive received a mandate to tell Metrolinx what we think about their plans to build a dedicated busway on Ellesmere.
President Iain McLeod followed up by sending Metrolinx the material posted on our Blog.
Kirstin Demasi, Senior Planning Officer, Planning and Policy with Metrolinx replied with Responses 1 through 10 as set out below.
Metrolinx thanks Glen Andrew for taking time to consider this project and invites all members of Glen Andrew to their next Stakeholders Advisory Meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday August 26th in Committee Room 2, on the main floor of the Scarborough Civic centre.

All Glen Andrew members interested in the future of Ellesmere can reply directly to Ms Demasi at : Kristin.Demasi@metrolinx.com or join us at the August 26th meeting. You can also comment on this proposal through Metrolinx’ survey at  https://www.metrolinxengage.com/en/content/durham-scarborough-bus-rapid-transit-survey-1

Lorne Ross for Glen Andrew Community Association.

The Future of Ellesmere: Have Your Say.

By Lorne Ross
Updated August 21, 2019

Note: As some of you may already know, to enlarge the pictures in this article, just click on them and you will get a better view.

Big changes are proposed for Ellesmere Road.
Glen Andrew Community Association will be speaking up.
What should they say on your behalf?

Metrolinx want to build a Bus Rapid Transit route.

From Oshawa
                through Whitby,
                                                                and Pickering,
                                                                                                all the way to Scarborough City Centre.
The portion in Scarborough would run on Ellesmere from Highway2-Kingston Road to McCowan.

What is a Bus Rapid Transit [BRT] route?
       Two lanes of pavement
       Painted so only buses can travel in those lanes.
       Can be along the outside lanes of a road or down the centre lanes.
Metrolinx wants to build it in the centre lanes of Ellesmere from McCowan to Military Trail. 

Response #1: The preferred design for Ellesmere Road has not yet been determined. You are correct that Bus Rapid Transit requires dedicated infrastructure for buses to provide reliable transit service. The current study considers both curbside and centre bus lanes. 
We will also be looking at current and projected future traffic volumes to determine if the road will need to be widened to provide the same capacity for general traffic as it does today; that is, we will investigate if Ellesmere should be a 4-lane or a 6-lane road.
The two pictures below are part of the VIVA system in York Region. While the use of two lanes for buses matches the concept for the Durham-Scarborough BRT, the size and scale of the BRT may not. The design of stops and shelters will be determined through this study.


    Highway 7 BRT in Markham

Highway 7 BRT in Markham 

Metrolinx had lots of land to build the BRT’s on        
Highway 7 in Markham and Highway 2 in Pickering.
Those are Provincial Highways …much more land 
to work with than we have on Ellesmere.   

If they build the BRT, how many lanes will Ellesmere have?
Metrolinx has not decided.
Should they take the two centre lanes and leave us with one lane each way…
should they first widen Ellesmere so we keep two lanes after they build their busway. 

 Response #2: While Highway 7 in Markham does have a wider right-of-way than Ellesmere Road in Toronto, the project team is investigating if there is adequate space to provide for six lanes, two dedicated to BRT and four (two in each direction) for general traffic. This analysis will look at both current and projected future traffic volumes, as well as the level of service provided along the road. The majority of arterial roads in Toronto have adequate right-of-way to allow for six lanes of traffic. ____________________________________________________________________

Centre lane BRT’s have concrete structures that prevent
 vehicles from turning left across the busway                    
    Davis Drive in Newmarket

    Highway 7 BRT in Markham: raised planted centre median barrier.

Impact of centre median busway on our communities
[existing traffic signal are red circles]
From McCowan to Bellamy: No left turns into driveways for Lawson School, 
SRT yard, Parkers Cleaners, Sheridan Nurseries, Grace Church, BA Bakery, 
industrial bldg, Kerala Food ,2 gas stations; 4 homes on south side of Ellesmere. 
Streets cut off: Stoneton for sure. Future of Grangeway uncertain.

Response #3: The project will look at the potential need for a traffic signal at Grangeway to provide adequate access. We will be reviewing site access corridor-wide to determine if other measures are required. Property access is a key consideration and will be addressed in the study.

From Bellamy to Markham Road: Left turns at driveways cut off at 1920 Ellesmere medical bldg –Fedrick’s and Terry’s restaurants; +\- 80 businesses in 8 multi-tenant industrial buildings, small plaza on south side at Bellamy. 

Response #4: The study will look at the need for a traffic signal at Dolly Varden Boulevard, and the potential need for an additional mid-block crossing. Note that there are other areas in the City where centre-medians or turn restrictions are in place over stretches of roadway like this. The traffic analysis will consider the change to access in the area with a centre median, should that be the preferred design.

From Markham Road east to St. Thomas Moore Church and School: Left turns at driveways cut off at Shell gas station, two apartment blog’s; Woburn Collegiate; St Thomas Moore church and school; Panchvatti supermarket, Pizza  Nova; Masjid Al Jannah

All these businesses which will lose left turn access help pay the city’s taxes, employ Glen Andrew people, and provide services. The three places of worship and the schools are important to a strong community.

With left turns cut off you will have to do a U Turn at the 6 traffic signals along this part of Ellesmere, horrendously busy intersections like Ellesmere-Markham Road or Ellesmere-McCowan Road, if you still want to work there, shop there, see your Doctor, attend services or drop your kids off at school

Response #5: As noted for the other segments, additional traffic lights, mid-bock crossings and an analysis of the impacts of turn restrictions will be evaluated as we develop the preferred design. The intent is to find a balance between ensuring priority and reliability for transit service, and maintaining local access for the community. 

We have several questions about this proposal.

Question 1:
Aren’t there already lots of buses on this part of Ellesmere?
Answer:  There are three TTC bus routes along this part of Ellesmere today including an express bus to the U of T campus at Military Trail. Morning rush hour trip on the York Mills 995 Express bus takes 15 minutes from McCowan-Ellesmere right onto the campus.  A trip of the same distance down the middle of St. Clair Avenue west on the famed LRT takes 28 minutes!

TTC Highland Creek bus runs the whole length of this part of Ellesmere.
TTC Neilson 38 bus runs east as far as the hospital then north up Neilson.
Region of Durham runs buses into the U of T campus from the east.

Response #6: The TTC services listed above are correct. DRT service currently ends at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus, and is planned to extend to Scarborough Centre. This is a logical extension of the DRT PULSE service and will connect passengers in the corridor directly to Scarborough
Centre and the subway). The exact mix of future bus services is being reviewed. Express services would likely use the dedicated BRT lanes, whereas local bus services may continue in mixed traffic in the curb lane. The primary objective of the study is to look at both physical infrastructure and transit operating considerations.

Each corridor has its own specific issues. St. Clair Avenue is not direct comparable to this project. For instance, streetcars have different acceleration and deceleration characteristics than buses. The operating characteristics of the Don Mills diamond lanes would be a more accurate comparison.

Question 2:
How many people will ride the buses if they build the busway?
·         Metrolinx forecasts a total of 7,500 people will ride buses on this part of Ellesmere in the 2 hour morning ‘rush hour’ by the year 2041.
·         If they did nothing…if they did not build the busway… there would be 6,100 people riding the buses.
·         So for $59Million construction cost and the loss of two lanes on Ellesmere and cutting off left turns to dozens of properties, their busway will attract maybe an additional 700 riders per hour in the morning rush.

Response #7: Improved transit service provides benefits beyond the number of people who take the bus. Rapid transit is designed to help ease future congestion, by making transit more comparable to driving in terms of travel time and reliability. By reducing the number of cars in the corridor, there will be less congestion in the future for those people who continue to travel by car. That means fewer emissions and more reliable travel times for all modes. Rapid transit service is a key element to effectively encouraging a  shift toward transit use. Once rapid transit is in place to provide the backbone of a multi-modal system, other alternative modes, such as cycling, walking, car share and bike share can be supported to encourage even greater mobility choice. 

The current ridership modelling numbers above are correct. The improved reliability and convenience of the BRT service is in part responsible for the increase in ridership. All riders in the corridor will benefit from the improved level of service. This will save transit users time as each trip is faster, and more importantly, more reliable. 

There is also a need to consider the expected population and employment growth along the corridor in the future. This growth will require reliable transit connections to key destinations including the subway, and major institutions such as university and college campuses and hospitals. 

As noted above, the number of general traffic lanes on Ellesmere Road has not yet been decided. Two options will be considered: • 1 general traffic lane per direction and 1 dedicated bus lane per direction, and,  • 2 general traffic lanes per direction and 1 dedicated bus lane per direction. 

The options will be evaluated using a framework specific to this project and will consider the environmental, cultural, and socio-economic impacts of the options. These options will be presented at Public Information Centre #2, where we will ask the public to provide input on the options. You can take a look at the evaluation criteria on the project website at: https://www.metrolinxengage.com/sites/default/files/final_boards_pic1_2019-05-31_accessible.pdf (scroll to page 22 of the PDF).

Question 3:
If you built a Busway down the middle of Ellesmere for express buses…
                But express buses only stops at major streets….
                                What happens to all the regular TTC buses?
Do they still run in the curb lanes?
Answer: we don’t know but that’s what appears to be happening in Markham and Newmarket busways.
Response #8: Correct – express buses will most likely use the BRT lanes to take advantage of the new infrastructure. . There is the potential to look at additional stop locations to allow buses to use the BRT lanes, although this may mean changes to local service. The options and the evaluation will be presented for public input through the course of the project.

The number of stops and the locations of the stops will be analyzed as part of the project. Connections to other area bus routes, major destinations, and locations where it is safe to cross the street when boarding or alighting will also be considered.
Question 4:
Could you widen Ellesmere east of McCowan? Make it three lanes each way plus a centre left turn lane?
Answer:                               Yes.
The city owns exactly the same width of property along Ellesmere east of McCowan as they do along Ellesmere west from Brimley all the way to Warden.
Response #9: The 7-lane cross section shown in the first image is wider than what is being considered for the BRT, while not providing a high degree of priority for transit riders. In the short term the widened road will perform well, but as we have seen in other parts of the city, adding more lanes for general traffic still means buses are stuck in traffic.

The Glen Andrew Executive needs to hear from you, the people who live in our great community, before they speak to Metrolinx and to our City Councillors.

Here’s what I think Glen Andrew should say:
1.       Widen Ellesmere from McCowan to Military Trail to 3 lanes each way plus centre left turn lane [same as Ellesmere west of Brimley];
2.       Run whatever buses you want in the curb lanes for 3 or four years;
3.       Come back later with a new study if you still want a busway.
Response #10: Implementing transit at the same time that the road is modified provides both economies of scale and reduces the impact of construction on the neighbourhood. A six-lane road is not built in the same way a 4-lane road with two BRT lanes is built, as there are stops, additional medians and utility works that are required.  
The project will look at staging the implementation in sections, that is, different segments of the corridor may proceed earlier than others to provide relief where transit riders will see the greatest benefits, where road right-of-way ownership permits and to meet funding availability.
Thank you again for your taking the time to consider the project and your blog post. We hope to see you and other members of the Glen Andrew Community at upcoming project meetings.

You can email your thoughts to Glen Andrew’s President, Iain McLeod at executivelife@rogers.com
to the two Scarborough Councillors who represent people and businesses along this part of Ellesmere:
·         Michael Thompson at councillor_thompson@toronto.ca
·         Paul Ainslie at councillor_ainslie@toronto.ca
directly to Metrolinx at  https://www.metrolinxengage.com/en/content/contact-project-team

Lorne Ross.