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DELEGATION – To Planning and Infrastructure Committee – City of Brampton – June 20, 2016

Chair Councillor Moore and Members of the Planning Committee

Thank you for the opportunity to address you today.

This meeting today is one that we at CFBB have been awaiting for some time. For it is the meeting to have staff respond to the Motion from Council that instructed them to study and analyse three potential LRT routes through Brampton to the Downtown GO Station, and to report their findings and recommendations. This report was then to be debated by Council with the potential of arriving at a decision on a preferred route which, presumably would then be the subject of an Environmental Study, including public participation and comment.

This reflects, of course the democratic process, for it is the responsibility of the elected Councillors to make an informed decision based on facts and analysis presented by staff. It is not, nor should it be, appropriate to have staff take it upon themselves to make decisions which they are not authorized to do and which rightly belong in the purview of the Council.

In our view, that simple, straight forward delineation of responsibility between the elected and staff often seems to get muddied here in Brampton. It was altogether prevalent in the last Council with respect to the City Hall expansion. And it seems to be happening now on the LRT file, with staff having worked with Metrolinx unbeknownst to Council to support a Main Street LRT route which blindsided Council when the announcement was made last year. That route had been overwhelmingly turned down by the last Council in a 10-1 vote, and, of course, it was turned down again by this Council. Then upon instruction by Council to analyse alternative routes, staff again decided to recommend the Main Street Downtown route, this time as a hugely expensive tunnel, not taking into account the reasons why the surface route had been rejected. Once again, Councillors were blindsided – once again the route was rejected, and once again time, energy and funds were wastefully expended.

Council then issued a directive to staff to look at three routes only – McLaughlin, Kennedy, and the Etobicoke Creek route, and report back in April. As part of the overall study and analysis, Council asked for an opinion from the TRCA on the Etobicoke Creek route. That opinion very recently communicated was to not support the Valley route.

From a reading of the Report, it is clearly evident that staff decided to exorcise any analysis of the Creek route from their report back to Council, directly in contravention of their obligation to report on the viability of the route, and denying Council their right to debate the route.

In our opinion, what should have happened in this report was for staff to prepare a detailed analysis of all three routes as they had been instructed to do, noting the benefits, advantages and disadvantages of each, and as well, noting that the TRCA were opposed to the Valley route. Instead, staff simply made an unauthorized decision which was not theirs to make. In fact, there is no detailed analysis on either of the two remaining routes.

Had the three routes been properly debated by Council, Council may have reached a conclusion that the Valley route was a non-starter. But, they had every right to prefer that route, and decide by majority vote to approach the TRCA with a creative solution and emergency mitigation plan, potentially funded, which might have allowed a different answer from the TRCA.

The report, now made public in advance of the June 20th meeting, has simply not made any detailed analysis, but simply recommended that the remaining two routes both be subjected to an Environmental Assessment at considerable cost. Time again will be lost, and the community will be short changed. What were staff doing with their time in response to Council’s directive?

In our opinion, staff did not do the job expected of them by both Council and the public interested in the LRT route selection. Further, we are of the opinion that Council should have had greater oversight of this most important piece of Brampton infrastructure. But blindsided they have been once again, not knowing what direction staff was taking, and how they were organized to accomplish the task at hand.

It is time to remind staff of their responsibilities, and either change their attitude or find new people who will be creative, sensitive to the community and taxpayer, and treat time with a sense of urgency. We simply cannot continue to condone complacency and an undeserved sinecure of position.

Doug Bryden – Co-Chair – CFBB


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Delagation for Planning and Infrastructure Committee Meeting –June 20, 2016

 

Good afternoon Chair Moore, members of the Planning committee, and fellow residents,

 

In the Fall of 2014 the previous Council rejected the Main Street surface alignment by a vote of 10 – 1

Last October, this present Council rejected the Main Street surface alignment route by a vote of 7 – 4.

Staff was instructed by this Council to prepare a detailed report for 3 preferred alignment options, the Etobicoke Creek valley, McLaughlin and Kennedy, so we could finally debate and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each. So we could finally see valuable information like intensification opportunities, potential development charge and property tax revenues, more detailed costs and more accurate alignment options.

So what did staff do? They once again didn’t listen to this Council and re-hashed a previous report suggesting that the best option was a tunnel under Main Street costing anywhere from $410 to $570 million dollars. A tunnel option that faced the same obstacles as the Main Street surface route, like low ridership numbers, lack of intensification opportunities and no flood mitigation resolution. Thankfully this was unanimously rejected by this Council.

Mr. Pitushka was quoted at that same March meeting stating  Quote- “We need a plan. Everybody is saying this is a lousy report, but on the other hand it has stimulated some dialogue around the table.”

So here we are today, almost three and half months later reviewing, in our opinion, a lousier report!

A report that has no additional information from staff for Council to consider or debate. It’s a report that simply includes the lengthy TRCA Board response rejecting the valley route and includes a staff recommendation for Council to approve two costly EA studies of both the McLaughlin and Kennedy routes.

Don’t we have talented planners and engineers on the city payroll that can prepare a report with all of the information Council has asked for?

What are the costs and time frame for these studies? OneBrampton a group that still actively supports the twice rejected Main Street route had a letter published in The Guardian last week suggesting each route will cost a staggering $15 million to study. Back in March, staff had indicated that it would take $2.5 million to study both tunnel options.   So how much is it?    Will staff today accurately state whether we are looking at $2.5 million or $30 million to properly study two alternate routes? Can staff accurately state how long it will take before ANY Council will be ready to properly debate the merits of the two alternate routes?    Will there be more stall tactics to prolong and delay an alignment decision? Is that the goal by some individuals or groups? To stall and delay the selection of an alternate route so that a new Council will have to decide? We simply can’t wait that long!

What we should have had today was a report from staff with three accurate alignments, accurate costs , ridership projections, which route has the best options for a Queen St and northern expansion, and all of the advantages and disadvantages of each.   We should have been much further ahead than we are today. What we should have had today was a meaningful debate on all three routes. A debate that would help us get closer to a final alignment selection.

The fact that we don’t is unacceptable and only delays this process yet again. What this Council needs is to finally have all of the research and information, so a choice can be made between one of the two remaining alternate routes this year (McLaughin or Kennedy). So we can move forward and allocate the required funds in the 2017 budget and begin the EA process. Only then will we have a plan.   A plan that can attract the transit investment dollars this city deserves based on our population projections and stature within the GTHA.

We need to agree on a plan that can unite everyone, rather than divide, so this city can finally move forward on the LRT.

 

In addition I would like to state that CFBB welcomes last week’s announcement by Metrolinx and CN for reaching an agreement in principal to begin the planning and technical analysis for a new freight corridor. A new freight corridor that will allow CN to shift most of its dangerous and hazardous freight traffic away from Downtown Brampton and pave the way for true 2 WAY ALL Day GO service for all of our city’s GO stations.

We would also like to know how the public will be able to participate and provide input once an EA process has been initiated on a final route alignment.

 

Thank you.

Chris Bejnar

Co-Chair CFBB


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Citizens for a Better Brampton

www.cfbb.ca

June 7, 2017

 

Toronto Regional Conservation Authority,

101 Exchange Avenue,

VAUGHAN, Ontario.

L4K 5R6

 

Attention: Ms. Maria Augimeri, TRCA Board Chair

 

Dear Ms. Augimeri:

 

Thank you for your detailed and fulsome response outlining the results of the Board decision regarding the potential use of the Etobicoke Creek Valley Corridor. While we are disappointed with the decision, we accept it, and now move on to consideration of the remaining two alternative LRT routes approved for analysis by City staff.

 

Our takeaways from the delegation experience and decision may be useful for future discussions:

 

1) It was made very clear that the TRCA own the land and had provincially mandated responsibility to protect the provincial interest on natural hazards and increased risk to life, property and infrastructure. No argument there, but the conclusion that the proposed LRT routing would be automatically detrimental to those objectives without assessment and analysis seems disingenuous and short sighted.

 

2) An earlier TRCA approval of an LRT route through downtown seems inconsistent with the reasons for the non-use of the valley route through that same flood plain. Fortunately, that route which would sacrifice Brampton’s heritage district, the foundations of its heritage structures, and introduce unsupportable congestion and traffic conflict has been taken off the table for all time by the present and former City Councils.

 

3) The TRCA are not obliged nor do they take into consideration the long term economic benefits that would arise for Brampton from well considered and environmentally responsible shared use of Valley lands which can be made to work in harmony with TRCA policies if there is the will to do so.

 

4) It would appear that creative and responsible use of public natural topography and environments, so evident in other communities and situations around the world, have no place in the policy directives of the TRCA.

 

5) The approval process for any potential shared use of TRCA owned lands is long and arduous, and in many cases convoluted and unnecessarily complicated. Partnering on any basis seems to be out of the question.

 

6) Given the absolute, unwavering and dedicated concern for the protection of life, property and infrastructure, it seems surprising that the completion of the Etobicoke Revitalization plan including cleanup and appropriate mitigation efforts has not been treated by the TRCA with any sense of urgency.

 

7) With respect to the Board depute experience, the immature and impetuous outcries and interjections from individual Board members (“lunacy”, “ridiculous” and “a past mistake”) was not only a surprise, but was disrespectful and intimidating to presenters who put forward a well-researched opposing point of view. Perhaps the appearance of undue arrogance of the Board should be taken under advisement. It was embarrassing.

 

Sincerely,

 

CITIZENS FOR A BETTER BRAMPTON,

Chris Bejnar and Doug Bryden,

Co-Chairs.

 

 


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Citizens for a Better Brampton

www.cfbb.ca

June 7, 2016

City of Brampton,

2 Wellington Street West,

BRAMPTON, ON

L6Y 4R2

Attention: Mayor Linda Jeffrey & Members of Brampton City Council

 

Re: Etobicoke Creek Valley Corridor

 

After both verbal and written delegations were heard at the TRCA Board meeting held on May 26th regarding the acceptability of the LRT Valley route, the Board decided to withdraw any further consideration of it (Option 3b elevated or Option 3c tunnel) even though its legitimacy as an alternative had been approved by elected Council as worthy of comprehensive study.

Although CFBB fully respect the TRCA decision, we were disappointed with that premature decision and the reluctance of the Board to await the June 20th Brampton Planning meeting where all three alternative routes studied were to be debated before reaching any conclusion. CFBB felt that the parkland could have been effectively used for transit infrastructure, could have been built sensitive to residents’ concerns, could have co-existed or even enhanced park usage , and could have kick started flood remediation projects that would significantly reduce the risk of flooding to the area. It is important to state that Brampton staff confirmed the proposed route alignment included in the TRCA meeting agenda had not been finalized and, therefore, was not accurate. It showed the proposed route bordering the backyards of homes and travelling north of Clarence St. on the east side of the creek. This is an alignment CFBB never proposed or would have supported. Regrettably discussions of alignments, aesthetics, park infrastructure, parkland deficiencies, flood risk remediation or revitalization for the creek were never properly debated or discussed at any Council meeting.

 

In addition to a copy of the attached letter email addressed directly to the TRCA, we make the following comments directly to Brampton Council and staff.

 

1) We believe that the Revitalization of the Etobicoke Creek should now be a priority and at the top of the “To Do” list of the TRCA and Brampton Council, including removing the covered over garbage dump and mandating the immediate cleanup of the detritus which is found along the shores of the meandering creek. The TRCA has been aware of potential flooding issues that could affect the GTHA’s 3rd largest and fastest growing city. One might reasonably question why it has taken decades to get any concrete proposals approved and built that would reduce the risk to life, property, and infrastructure in Downtown Brampton, and allow the Downtown core revitalization to proceed forthwith.

 

2) Even given the extraordinary advancements in communication technology, the safety of the public through and over the Brampton flood plain remains of fundamental and absolute concern to the TRCA, its Board and its policy. That said, it would be inadvisable and improper for the Mayor and other Councillors, along with One Brampton and Fighting Gridlock, to continue to advocate for the Metrolinx Main St. surface alignment LRT that has been removed from consideration by majority vote in the present and last Council. The arguments against the Valley route for the LRT and its exposure to the flood plain are exactly the same for the now discredited surface route through Downtown. It would be hoped that there could be a coming together of all groups to support one of the remaining two routes, neither of which have any implication for the flood plain.

 

3) The TRCA commitment to the environment and all its related components and associations is sacrosanct, and trumps any economic and increased assessment benefits that may be evident for the overall growth and well-being of the wider community. Some TRCA Board members are now believing that past Board decisions which resulted in the subway shared right-of-way through Toronto’s Nordheimer Ravine, and the shared use Parkway through the Don Valley, were “mistakes” – a rather remarkable statement given that those two decisions have had significant positive impact on transportation corridors, the ability to responsibly spread development and residential communities, and the Canadian economy.

 

4) The TRCA Board does not like to get involved in community disagreements, but prefers to focus on their own policies dealing with storm water management, urban and rural parkland and water systems, and the environment generally. They showed little interest in considering economic benefits to the local economy. Their 28 member Board representation is made up of 26 elected Councillors from across the region, and Brampton has only ONE representative.

The Board clearly showed favouritism to the Mayor and the contents of her letter (which was read), Councillor Martin Medeiros (who was late registering, but given the opportunity to depute first) and a significant number of local residents who were allowed to delegate against the proposed route. CFBB was allotted one 5 minute delegation, interrupted with intimidating remarks from various Board members.

 

The contents of the Mayor’s letter, sent on behalf of unnamed local residents, advised the TRCA Board to not approve any further consideration of the Valley route – it being a waste of taxpayer money – even though the staff study of this route had been approved through democratic vote. This is clearly an inappropriate high jacking of an officially sanctioned Council motion. Were Council and our TRCA Board representative informed of this letter in advance?

 

Summary

While we are definitely disappointed with the TRCA decision, we accept it. We believe this was a missed opportunity to debate the advantages of using the parkland for transit infrastructure seeking out examples from Europe, Australia and the United States. This was not an “asinine” or “ludicrous” proposal as indicated by some TRCA board members. The valley land route was a viable option that was promoted by CFBB as a way to increase ridership numbers, include the emerging Health Sciences Centre, avoid all the obstacles running the LRT through the Downtown core, prevent the ensuing traffic gridlock that would have been created, and stay within the environmental envelope.

We will turn our attention to reviewing the Planning report on the remaining two route options on June 20th.

Our focus will continue to be on securing a much better two way all day GO service to Downtown Brampton so that our city becomes an integral part of the proposed Innovation corridor between Waterloo and Downtown Toronto. We will continue to advocate for a LRT route that provides Brampton with the highest potential of intensification opportunities and ridership numbers. We will demand that Brampton gets its fair share of transit infrastructure dollars based on our population and stature within the GTHA , so we actually get the best, not just the most cost effective transit plan for our long term growth and prosperity.

Respectfully submitted,

CITIZENS FOR A BETTER BRAMPTON,

Chris Bejnar and Doug Bryden

Co-Chairs

 


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