Thursday, December 11, 2008

Waterfront West LRT

I attended an open house tonight set up to inform residents of the planning for a Waterfront West Light Rail Transit line from Parklawn to Longbranch. Longbranch is my new neighbourhood and it sits at the extreme south-west corner of Toronto. For those readers not from the Toronto area, transit development in this city has been contentious. In the St. Clair W. area, it divided the community.

Here is the purpose of the project, as expressed in the documents I picked up at the open house:
"The WWLRT line is intended to provide fast and efficient service between Long Branch and downtown Toronto at Union Station serving numerous communities along the way. Work has been underway for some time to develop a reserved right of way connection between Union Station and Exhibition Place, and more recently between Exhibition Place and The Queensway at Roncesvalles. The conversion of the existing streetcar service on Lake Shore Blvd West to LRT in the section from Humber to Long Branch will address the last piece of the proposed line. TTC and the City of Toronto want to identify the best way to provide this high quality transit service in a manner that:
i) is affordable,
ii) makes transit a much more attractive travel option relative to the private auto, and
iii) supports the City's reurbanization objectives for this section Lake Shore Blvd West which is designated in the Official Plan as an "Avenue", including enhanced housing, jobs, and other transit-oriented developments, and improved streetscaping and pedestrian environment."

This is early stage planning for a line which, if approved by City Council, would be constructed in 2014/2015, and which is projected to cost $125 million + vehicles.

I appreciated the way the plan was laid out in the cafeteria of a local school for the Open House. There were representatives from the City floating around who were happy to talk to me, hear my concerns and discuss the issues. I was able to get a clear idea of some of the issues quite quickly.

I have shared on this blog some of my concerns with the TTC right-of-way under construction in my old neighbourhood, along St. Clair Ave. W. If this plan goes ahead on Lake Shore, the City has to do a better job of protecting the interests of local businesses through the construction. The City also needs to recognize the concerns of residents. The St. Clair construction divided the neighbourhood, for and against. It felt as if the Mayor was determined to force the project through. I'd like to see improved public transit from Longbranch to downtown, but not at all costs.

I'll be attending the next Open House in late winter and will report back at that time.


Candy Minx said...

Well, you know how I feel about public transit...I don't want to be a broken record.

I love the Spadina right-of-way's amazing and didn't kill the has kept it alive and busy and now has an amazing route for moving traffic and people through the city. Business is great as it ever was on may even be better than it was. I completely support the St. Clair line too.

I understand the businesses on St Clair were afraid...lets just hope the same people who strugled to shop there in the past continue to shop there...they probably will.

I imagine the plan for Lakeshore is something I would like too.

As long as people keep driving their cars for every activity...we will need to help public transit provide the best service into the future.

mister anchovy said...

The St. Clair service was pretty good before the construction. They had some trouble with cars bunching up, but mostly due to left turners at maybe half a dozen intersections. I might have supported a plan that addressed the problem rather than a plan that imposed a vision.

The St. Clair right-of-way divided my former neighbourhood in an ugly way. The problem wasn't just fear. The problem was that the prolongued construction hurt marginal business pretty bad. If those businesses can't hold on, they'll be replaced by big franchises soon enough.

For now I'm on the fence about the Lakeshore plan. I was assured last night that the amount of construction required will be considerably less than on St. Clair, and I talked to a couple project people who recognized the need to learn from the mistakes on St. Clair. Good start. I don't want my community to simply become a corridor to downtown, but I do support improved transit, and I recognize that over the years, there will be increased density along the lake. Just look at the spread of condos west from the Humber River.

I think putting an IRT in is a significantly better choice than sticking with streetcars. One of my criticisms of the St. Clair right-of-way is that it caused huge disruption for relatively small gain.

Tuffy P has suggested an small business ombudsman to protect the interests of the neighbourhood business throughout the process, and that is an idea we'll be putting forward.

I'll be watching this plan closely and will be fully participating in the community feedback process. I will support a plan which is good for my neighbourhood AND the city, but I'm prepared to fight any plan that ignores the needs of my community.

Bridget Jones said...

Since this burg is only the nation's capital, we don't rate this kind of stuff. No rail to Kanata till 2030.

Candy Minx said...

Right...your second sentance was "cars bunching up"

From the perspective of those of us who use public transit...who give up private vehicles or use bikes...the work on Spadina and St. Clair is a godsend.

Cars have low priority in our communities...we have moved on.

The only thing businesses need is people coming and shopping. The people who were using public transit Sto go to the stores on Spadina and St. Clair STILL USE it while the cnstruction is going on and still shop. Buses are put into place to provide transit for riders.

The people who STOP using the stores and businesses ...are the drivers.

Us public transit users life habits and shopping habits don't change due to construction. People who let cars run their minds stop using those areas during construction.

The businesses aren't worried about losing the business of transit riders. They know cars people can't think or function without their beloved cars.



Unknown said...
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mister anchovy said...

Just to clarify, I took the St. Clair street car to work and back during morning and afternoon rush hours for close to two years. The "bunching up" I referred to was a minor blip in otherwise very good service, based on my regular experience. I was very satisfied overall with the transit service I received during the rush hour periods on that line. I would have supported any number of less divisive and disruptive approaches to improve service.

I simply don't believe it was necessary or advisable to tear everything up and rebuild it in this case. Finally, we started with a street car line and ended with a street car line.

I don't think the issue was about car people vs transit people. I do think it is about balanced solutions for the overall good of the community.

I hope the affected businesses on St. Clair survive and continue to make a go of it.

I agree there is every good reason to improve public transit in Toronto. That's why I'm looking at the Lakeshore LRT proposal with an open mind. In mid-town, I think there is an argument to be made for another major east-west subway line, but that is another story.

11:53 PM