2022 Cycling Infrastructure Installation

The Federation of North Toronto Residents Association (FoNTRA) is supportive of the Active TO Midtown Yonge complete street Pilot installed last year.  ActiveTO bike lanes are an important part of the City’s transportation system, helping to reduce automobile use, to enliven the streets, and support the businesses along Yonge Street in Midtown.

We appreciate that the current pattern of streets to the west and the Yellow Creek ravine to the east result in land-locked communities that create challenges to the implementation of the pilot. We are aware that Councillors Layton and Matlow are currently working with Transportation staff and residents to resolve the localized concerns about the current installation of bike lanes and CaféTO installations along with related initiatives to reduce traffic congestion on Yonge Street, such as left-turn lanes. Two of our member organizations are opposed to bike lanes on Yonge Street and their impact on traffic, and another has raised issues re: access to residential streets and impacts of upcoming construction related to development projects, we urge the Committee and City Council to ensure that the traffic concerns underlying their opposition are addressed in the proposed extension of the ActiveTO Yonge Street Pilot.

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Street Safety in Midtown & Uptown Toronto

August 20, 2021 – the day that 18-year-old Miguel Joshua Escanan lost his life at Avenue Road and Bloor Street. He was cycling north on Avenue Road, and where the protected bike lane ends he was struck by a cement truck passing him in the curb lane. According to his mother he wasn’t an experienced cyclist but he enjoyed getting out on his bike.

Miguel’s death adds to the climbing toll of cyclists and pedestrians who are losing their lives on Toronto’s roads, a direct result of a lack of action to create protected bike lanes on major roads and to regulate and ensure safer trucks on city streets. 

FoNTRA, on behalf of the named signatories listed, sent a letter two years ago when a pedestrian was struck and killed by a construction truck near Yonge and Eglinton. We are sending a letter once again to urge the City to take concrete action to better protect our most vulnerable road users – pedestrians and cyclists who put their lives at risk each time they step onto the street.

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Response from Federal Government re: Environmental Assessment for Don Valley Train Facility

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, asked me to respond to your letter of June 24, 2021, concerning the Don Valley Train Layover Facility proposed by Metrolinx as part of the New Tracks and Facilities Project (the Project).

The Physical Activities Regulations (Regulations) identify the types of projects that are subject to the Impact Assessment Act (the IAA). These project types, as prescribed by the Regulations, have the greatest potential to cause effects in areas of federal jurisdiction. As proposed by Metrolinx, the Project is not described in the Regulations and is thus not subject to the IAA.

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Building the East Toronto Railpath

This is to express our strong support for the Members Motion to move forward with this exciting project to convert a disused rail line and bridge to an active transportation corridor in the Don Valley.  This will connect and expand the City’s trail system, dramatically expanding recreational opportunities for Torontonians, provide an opportunity to memorialize the historic railway story of Toronto, realise part of the Don Valley Park vision, and create a new tourism magnet for Toronto.   

The West Toronto Railpath and the Don Mills Trail serve as local models for how rail to trail conversions can provide low cost sustainable recreational opportunities provided other orders of government are willing to cooperate, and providing we (and they) are willing to make the upfront investment.  The East Toronto Railpath project is extraordinarily significant as a “place-keeping” opportunity, and we urge City Council to recognize the opportunities therein for Indigenous partnership.

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Environmental Assessment for Don Valley Train Facility

We request the Federal Government (which has the authority, the resources, and the mechanism – Federal Impact Assessment Study) to do a proper environmental assessment of Metrolinx’s proposed Don Valley Train Layover Facility.

The Project

The Don Valley Train Layover Facility is one of four new layover facilities proposed under Metrolinx’s New Tracks and Facilities TPAP. The facilities are apparently required in order to reduce the congestion currently experienced at Union Station, and provide a location for storage and light maintenance (including cleaning, garbage disposal, and sanitary sewage removal) for GO trains during off-peak periods. Whether the plan includes diesel fuel servicing/storage needs to be confirmed.

Metrolinx intends to situate the Don Valley Layover site on part of the Don Branch rail corridor (not operational for the past 22 years), that runs parallel to the Don Valley Parkway (See attached plan).

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Toronto Street Car

Moving Ontarians More Safely

The Act gives Toronto permission to install safety cameras on streetcars to find and fine drivers who speed by a streetcar at a transit stop, putting riders at risk.

The Act also includes Bill 148 The Doored But Not Ignored Bill to provide better protections for cyclists. Dooring is one of the most common causes of injury for cyclists, but it’s not considered a collision under the Highway Traffic Act.

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Provincial Transit-Oriented Communities Program

We join many community-based groups including resident, business, service, environmental and heritage organizations to express our support for the direction of the staff report, and our concern for the unilateral approach of the provincial government in its Transit-Oriented Communities Program.

We are concerned that what is happening now at the First Parliament site is a preview of what communities may expect anywhere that the province has a planned transit station, and where there is an opportunity to hand land to the private sector to raise revenues!

Based on our experience to date with the Eglinton Crosstown and the Ontario Lines, especially the lack of transparency in decision-making, we fear that the rush to accelerate planning and maximize provincial revenues will compromise long-term community building, heritage conservation, and complete communities, including affordable housing, community space, and public open space on these sites.

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GTA West Highway (413)

FoNTRA has serious concerns with the Ontario government’s plans to exempt the GTA West highway from a full and thorough environmental assessment, and instead move to a streamlined assessment. This highway represents the start of what is in essence a whole new 400 series highway system north of Toronto, and requires a thorough and complete environmental assessment to determine its true impacts.

Our concerns may be summarized as follows:

  1. The highway, if built, would encourage and facilitate an unprecedented level of urban sprawl in the GTA, which would destroy important green spaces and prime farmland.
  2. The cost to taxpayers is significant, which will be borne by the Provincial Government alone (the Federal Government has indicated it will NOT cost-share).

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Metrolinx – Don Valley Layover Facility

We will briefly summarize our position relative to the DVTLF:

  • Our resident associations are in principle supportive of GO Transit expansion and recognize the operational needs of the transit system;
  • However due to the technical nature and complexity we are unable to assess in a meaningful way most of the information made available for this project. We are therefore in a position of having to ”trust you” with regard to the rationale for and the scope of the project;
  • We note the shift of location of the proposed Facility to north of the Viaduct and the reduction of the footprint of the project in an effort to minimize its environmental impact;
  • We note the location of the facility straddling the former Don Branch line and we wonder whether Metrolinx has consulted with the federal government and VIA Rail regarding its plans for High Frequency Rail (HFR) in the Ottawa to Toronto corridor and whether the Don Branch figures into this plan?;
  • We understand that Metrolinx has consulted with Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) regarding additions/improvements to public facilities close to/serving the Don Trail.

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Development in Proximity to Rail: Official Plan Amendment

This is to advise of our support for this report and its recommendations to consult widely on its proposals.  

We note the report‘s reference to the extensive network of rail networks in Toronto; all wards in the city except one (Willowdale) being affected.  Further to this we recommend that the consultation involve all residents associations.

We also note that the report makes no mention of SafeRail, which is a national grass roots organization addressing safety matters in communities adjacent to rail lines. We suggest that this group be considered as a key stakeholder in the consultation.

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Clearing the Path Towards a Safe and Accessible Winter

City Council and City staff are to be applauded for their efforts to ensure that residents have opportunities for outdoor recreation through the ActiveTO. program. Throughout the spring, summer and fall, people have taken to our outdoor spaces in large numbers to walk, run and bike while remaining physically distant. With the COVID-19 pandemic, walking and biking are more important than ever to physical and mental health, especially for seniors and people living with mobility challenges.

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Construction Projects Right-of-way Occupancy

The Federation of North Toronto Residents’ Associations (FoNTRA) strongly supports the recommendation of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee to request the General Manager, Transportation Services, in consultation with the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning to prepare a report on implementing a new right-of-way occupancy permit policy that defaults to a denial of requests, except when no other options are available.

In the event no other options are available and closure of the right-of-way adversely impacts the public use of the right-of-way, FoNTRA supports requiring that a percentage of the additional Gross Floor Area achieved by the developer, as a result of City right-of-way use for construction, is to be provided for public amenities, such affordable housing, childcare, or seniors’ services.

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Toronto-Ontario Transit Update

We strongly support the cancellation of the upload of the TTC ownership to the province and in principle are in favour of a more ambitious Ontario Relief Line that extends all the way north to Eglinton and west to the Exhibition GO station. This expanded line will provide additional high density neighbourhoods with high speed transit and take pressure off the existing Yonge and Bloor-Danforth subway lines.

The Ontario Line is still at a conceptual stage, both in terms of route and transit technology. This poses a significant risk of delay beyond the alternate City Relief Line completion date. A relief line component of any Ontario Line Plan must be fast tracked. The Yonge and Bloor-Danforth lines are already heavily congested. And ridership demand for both lines is expected to continue to grow significantly.

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Transit Planning Inquiry

We are writing to express our support for an updated inquiry into Toronto’s planning of major transit infrastructure projects.

We do not take a position on the manner by which such an inquiry is undertaken. How Toronto’s current transit investment plans are reviewed is a matter for City Council to decide. Nor do we wish to spend time debating how past decisions have been made. Our concern is with the present, and with what the future will bring. There is an urgent need for a review of transit investment priorities and for related development planning.

Our concern is simple: Transit capacity in Toronto’s central and midtown area — the corridor served by the Yonge Street subway— is already now overwhelmed in rush hours and at capacity even in off-peak daytime hours. It is often not possible in the morning rush-hour to board trains downtown from Eglinton or from stations south of Eglinton down to Bloor.

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