Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Emerging Vision for McCowan Road

Part Two

Written by Lorne Ross, March 2017

The City Planning Department invited Glen Andrew to attend a community consultation meeting on
February 7th. I attended for our President Iain McLeod.

 They  have been busy since last July doing something they call the Scarborough Centre Master
Transportation Plan.

 Here’s what they say is the purpose of the study:

 Vision Statement

The Scarborough Centre transportation network will develop in a way that supports the creation
of a diverse, attractive and safe mixed-use community which is easily accessible by all modes of transportation. This will be achieved by creating an easily navigable and fine-grained street network which provides infrastructure and amenities for all street users. This transportation network will be fully integrated into the regional transportation system, including the transit, pedestrian and cycling networks, and provide clear and easy connections to the surrounding communities.

 I especially like the part about improving our centre’s connection to the regional transportation network and to the surrounding community’ . If our centre is ever to achieve its goal as a vibrant downtown’ for Scarborough it will need to pretty much double the number of office buildings and condo towers we have today. You can’t do that unless our Centre is better connected to the broader region. And we in Glen Andrew will never be able to get to our Centre, let alone through it to 401 or northern Scarborough unless we are ‘better connected’.

At the February meeting they showed us their "Emerging Vision" for transportation in our Centre.

Here's the plan.

Pretty hard to read so I plotted the changes they want to make on the west side of the shopping centre around Brimley and the second one around McCowan, as per the air photographs below:

As far as I can figure every one of these will require the City to use 100% city tax dollars to:

A new road right through the middle of the parking lot between Canyon Creek and the multi-tenant commercial building, [Boston Pizza-Bulk Barn-Pier One-etc] , destroying half their parking;

Abandon, dig up and remove +\-300m of existing Progress Avenue, tear out the sewers, water mains, cables and wires that are under the street, take down the street lights, fire hydrants and all other utilities underneath/over the road;

Acquire or expropriate 4,000m2 of land from the big grassy field owned by the shopping centre

Abandon, dig up and remove +\-300m of existing Borough Drive south of Progress Avenue, tear out the sewers, water mains, cables and wires that are under the street, take down the street lights, fire hydrants and all other utilities underneath/over the road;

Rebuild +\-600m of new road, sidewalks, street lights, water mains, sewers, cables- pipes- wires
and hydrants in nice straight lines;

Install three new traffic signals

Loblaws, Canyon Creek, and all the other merchants face costs to redo’ all their driveways
connecting to these new streets.

Progress will no longer be a through route between Kennedy Road and Markham Road and over 401 to
Sheppard: it will effectively be broken into two segments at Brimley Road.

None of these changes help people who live and work in our Centre get to any of the arterial roads or the 401. It does nothing to better connect our Centre to the surrounding communities.

AND AS AN ADDED BONUS: the transportation experts planning Smart Track are proposing to dead end Progress between Midland and Kennedy. They have Billions to improve GO train service but nothing to keep our roads open.


So here’s the question: If you had millions and millions of tax dollars to spend in our Centre to improve how people move around, is this what you would do with it?

This portion of the emerging vision would require the City to:

1.   Demolish the Progress overpass over McCowan Road;

2.   Demolish the Progress westbound to McCowan northbound on ramp;

3.   Rebuild +\-200m of Progress Avenue as a straight east-west street which, rather than rising up to go over the overpass, would be dropped down to cross McCowan at a new traffic signal;

4.   Demolish the southbound McCowan to Progress off ramp;

5.   Purchase or expropriate +\-3,200m2 of the shopping centre’s east parking lot to extend Borough Drive straight north from its present terminus under the SRT guideway beside the YMCA to where it runs into existing Progress northbound;

6.   Purchase or expropriate 1,400m2 of the mall’s property through Jack Astor’s parking lot;

7.   Purchase or expropriate land from the shopping centre’s La-Z-Boy parking lot to straighten out’

the Corporate Drive-Progress/new Borough Drive intersection as a “T” intersection;

8.   Require the shopping centre to ‘redo’ all of its driveway systems/parking layouts on the east

side of the mall;

9.   Dig up and rebuild/relocate whatever sewers, water mains, fire hydrants, pipes-wires-conduits, street lights and other utilities which are in the way of these new-relocated streets.

Every one of these proposals will require 100% city funding. None of these changes improves our Centre’s connection to the regional transportation system. None of these changes improves our centre’s connection to surrounding communities like Agincourt, Malvern, Glen Andrew and North Bendale.

There are no cost estimates. So if I throw out a figure of say $75Million. If you found that kind of money under the couch cushions at City Hall, is this what you would spend it on to help our Centre grow?

McCowan Gets Two More Traffic Signals

Everyone knows, even the Planning Department knows, that McCowan Road from Ellesmere north to the 401 ramps is running way over capacity today.

Traffic is stop and go north from Ellesmere until you pass where all the buses come out onto McCowan at Triton. Sometimes you can’t even ‘clear the intersectionon a green light. Then its clear sailing north to the traffic signals at the 401 ramps.

The emerging vision puts an end to that. They want two more traffic signals on McCowan Road: one at the proposed new level intersection with Progress and another about where Jack Astor’s is located today.

AND: The most recent plans from the TTC-City Planning place a
34 bay bus terminal just west of McCowan between Progress and Town Centre Court.

That’s a 70% increase over the existing Scarborough Centre bus terminal, 10 new bus bays for TTC.

And as far as I can determine, all the buses will enter-exit from McCowan Road.
 AND: One of the bus bays proposed for our Centre is for something called Durham Bus Rapid Transit. This is a $500Million project to run buses from Oshawa’s downtown through Whitby and Pickering downtowns into the U of T Scarborough campus and on to our Scarborough Centre along Ellesmere. The bus is supposed to travel in its own dedicated ‘bus only’ lane. As we all know Ellesmere east of McCowan is two lanes each direction today. So here’s the question: will they spend the money to widen Ellesmere to three lanes each way from McCowan to Military Trail, and widen Military Trail from one lane each way to twoadding a lane for the Durham bus…or will they take out an existing lane. Let me see: that’s almost 7 kilometers x two new lanes = 14 kilometers of new lanes and all they need in our huge new bus terminal is one bus bay?

 So to add it all up, here’s the ‘emerging vision for transportation in and around our community:

Dead end Passmore, McNicoll, Huntingwood, Havendale, Progress and Danforth Road at the
Stouffville GO tracks;
Break Progress again at Brimley and again at Corporate Drive;
Put in two more traffic signals on McCowan between Ellesmere and 401;
Build a 34 bay bus depot on the west side of McCowan with all the buses running on McCowan;
 Maybe reduce Ellesmere between McCowan and Military Trail to one lane each way for general vehicle traffic so the Durham bus can run in its own lane.
That should really improve our Centre and our community!

Lorne Ross
Saratoga Drive, Scarborough

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