As you may have heard, the Mr. Christie cookie plant in Etobicoke – a landmark for anyone heading downtown via the Gardiner or the Lakeshore West line – will be closing next year. There are rumours that the landowners will apply to rezone the land for residential, but as of the time of writing no application has been submitted. One of the lessons I learned while studying planning is the importance of preserving employment lands and building mixed-use communities where people can live, work and play in close proximity. According to those teachings, rezoning the land would be a bad idea. But, other important lessons learned were that land should be developed to its highest and best use for its context, and that certain types of land uses do not work well in close proximity. Given that the factory is surrounded on nearly all sides by high-rise residential land uses, is continuing to manufacture on that site really the highest and best use? Continue reading
[Edit: According to a recent report, Metrolinx and the TTC had come to an agreement where the TTC will operate the new LRT lines under construction. This is worthy of mentioning, but I don't feel it changes the substance of the post below. There remains much confusion about what AFP actually means, regardless of the contractor being a public agency like the TTC or a private corporation like Bombardier or Veolia. Of course, I am curious as to what concessions (if any) the TTC made for Metrolinx to suspect the competitive bidding process - as the provincial agency could have easy told the TTC to put in a bid alongside everyone else.]
As one may have heard, Metrolinx has decided to use a private partner to built, maintain and operate the Eglinton Crosstown LRT line instead of turning over responsibility to the TTC. The province’s term for this kind of contract is “alternative financing and procurement” (AFP), but the more common industry term is “build-operate-maintain”. Since this story broke I have read a wide range of doom-and-gloom scenarios of what this means, but the common thread among them is what I feel to be a misunderstand of what this decision means for the rider experience and administration of the project. In this post, I would like to take the time to dispel some of these myths. Debate is healthy on this and all other subjects, but we need to ensure that we know what is (and what is not) being proposed or else the debate will end up chasing after a thousand red herrings. While I have not seen any proposed contracts in this matter, I will try my best to describe how they are typically structured.
In addition to the kids (and myself, this time) returning to school, one of the things we can count on every September is transit service changes across the GTHA to reflect an overnight change in travel patterns. This year was no different, but two small changes this year are noteworthy.
According to an article in the Toronto Star, Councillors Karen Stintz and Glenn De Baeremaeker are proposing an ambitious transit plan for the city to move forward upon. Unlike other proposals, this one includes a funding component which could generate the funds necessary to bring the proposal from concept to reality. Continue reading
The demand for housing close to transit will increase to the point where the desire to keep urban neighbourhoods stable will buckle under development pressure, while owners of homes in auto-dependent suburbs will be unable to sell their properties due to the high cost of commuting – this great upheaval is what we face if we do nothing as gasoline prices and congestion continue to increase. In my first post about building an integrated transportation network we established the baseline network of today. In this fourth post, we will look to 2020 and analyse the network as it will likely be.
The Six Points interchange is the location near Kipling subway station where Dundas Street, Bloor Street, Kipling Avenue and a number of local roads converge into a complex series of onramps and overpasses. It is clearly optimized for traffic flow (which it does well), but it is a pedestrian deadzone in an area which is a designated urban growth centre. As it stands now, residents of the tower complex at the southwest corner of the interchange cannot safely walk to the plaza across the street – and this will only get worse as the lands around the subway station are redeveloped. Continue reading
Immediately after Toronto city council voted in favour of reverting to the at-grade LRT transit plan for Eglinton, Finch West and Sheppard East, I wrote a post saying that I felt that it was a vote to apply the most cost-effective solution to a transit problem (curiously, this was the post that crashed my old blog). I have always been of the opinion that both modes could provide the local service and development style we desire, so unless there was a need to go under narrow streets, needed capacity was the only justification for the added expense. Since developing Sheppard to the point where the capacity was needed would not be in keeping with our development vision, the right decision was made. However, there are proposed corridors where the capacity of an underground line is needed from day one. Continue reading
Today, the Stouffville GO train line runs from Union Station eastward, sharing the Lakeshore line to Scarborough (Junction) GO station before turning northward. It heads due north to Unionville before snaking through Markham to the edge of the urban boundary. Eventually, the line reaches Stouffville and the terminus at Lincolnville. Bus connections extend the line to Uxbridge, and while only peak-hour train service is provided today, the construction necessary to bring all-day service to central Markham is largely complete. Continue reading