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TTC ready to look at second route to LRV facility - InsideToronto

June 03, 2010
David Nickle

Leslie Street remains the favourite route for the Toronto Transit Commission to move hundreds of new streetcars between Queen Street and a new light rail vehicle storage facility on Ashbridges Bay.

However, after hearing from local residents who said that choice would lead to traffic chaos and cause problems for the more than 500 residents living along the short route, commissioners agreed to study ways to compensate homeowners and to look at a second route going along Knox Avenue, put forward by transit advocates Philip Webb and Steve Munro.

That route, which would run streetcars through the western part of the Russell yard on Queen Street East and down Knox, would, according to Munro, cost less than the current route, and wouldn't go past homes.

Munro argued given that Toronto's executive committee had already decided to spend a $65 million premium to avoid sending streetcar lines past homes and community facilities on Progress Avenue in Scarborough, it made sense to look at this plan.

"The amount of streetcar traffic that would operate on Progress is a small fraction of what will come through here. Why should council pay a premium on Progress but refuse a $10-million cost saving," he said.

The route, which hasn't been studied by TTC staff, would make it easier on homeowners, but Canada Post, which operates a large plant on Knox, might have problems with the new route.

"We have a very large facility in our operational plant on Eastern (Avenue)," said Joseph Ryan, Canada Post's director of real estate planning and development. "It is the largest we have in Canada and every day, 40 per cent of the letter mail for all of Canada is processed there. And we have 250 vehicles that enter twice a day. The ebb and flow of traffic is critical for us... your peak periods overlay identically with ours."

The service route would carry about 230 streetcars in the early morning and late at night between the storage facility. Residents living on Leslie Street between Queen Street East and Lake Shore Boulevard East told commissioners that level of traffic would make life in their homes intolerable.

Susan Court spoke on behalf of her daughter and granddaughter, who both live in a house fronting directly on Leslie Street.

"I've spent a lot of time at their house since the birth of my granddaughter, and I'll be there even more," she said. "I care about what happens to Leslie because I'm selfish. I want to feel safe and enjoy the time I spend with my family. I want my daughter and her husband to enjoy their time there. I want what any of you would want."

Janet MacDonald spoke on behalf of residents at Leslie and Mosley Street.

"There are about 500 people living in the residential properties fronting on Leslie at Mosley, and those 500 people are going to experience noise and vibrations beyond any acceptable level," she said. "This doesn't belong on a residential street. This will be as close as 15 feet from our bedrooms on Leslie Street. Those people will feel the vibrations as the cars move to and from Queen Street. We're thinking we'll be lucky to get two or three hours of sleep a night," she said.

Transit advocate Jamie Kirpatrick from the Toronto Environmental Alliance said while the new streetcars are a major accomplishment for the city's environmental agenda, the TTC should look for another route.

"The Leslieville community has expressed its support for improved public transit, but we're not trying to wedge larger LRT vehicles into unsuitable streets that would make the street functionally useless for the residents."

Local Councillor Paula Fletcher (Toronto-Danforth) urged the commission to look at the Knox route, and also find a way to compensate homeowners. She said Leslie Street, with its busy shopping centres and Tim Hortons coffee shop, is a bad fit for the streetcars.

"I will point out that the shortest space between stoplights in Toronto is on this street - a mere 140 feet," she said. "The LRVs are 90-feet long. A few people trying to get in to get their coffee in the morning could upset the whole apple cart."

Councillor Sandra Bussin, who represents the east side of Leslie Street and sits on the TTC committee, moved the motions. But she was pessimistic the commission and the city would choose any route other than Leslie.

"It appears that it is boiling down that Leslie Street is the option that will be the final option," she said. "I am happy to look at the other option that is completely in my ward, but other strategic problems exist there."

As published here: http://www.insidetoronto.com/news/cityhall/article/828235--ttc-ready-to-look-at-second-route-to-lrv-facility