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CFBB’s Brief Outline for Terms of Reference- Alternate LRT Route studies – Kennedy and McLaughlin

These two routes have been determined by democratic decision of Council to be the only two routes to be studied by staff, carrying out the Environmental Assessment of each route so as to allow direct comparison clearly and reasonable debate thoroughly by Council. The staff report should be prepared and presented within a 6-8 month period from Council agreement on terms of reference, and regular process reviews are mandated by Council of staff to assess progress being made.

As a note, it is understood that complete accuracy of information is based on reasonable assumptions by reasonable professionals and not an end in itself, thereby allowing recommendations to be forthcoming from staff and the public within the proscribed time period to completion.

Here are some terms of reference that CFBB would like to be included for review.

1) Comparisons are to look at the viability and cost of providing at grade, above grade and below grade installations, and combinations of each as deemed appropriate.

2) Comparisons must take into account existing infrastructure impacts, such as water and sewer lines newly required or existing and in need of replacement, bridging conflicts, and potential use of discontinued rail rights-of-way.

3) Comparisons must have investigated whether the routes are to be contained in existing roads and rights-of-way, or whether road widenings and property acquisitions will be needed and guesstimates on the cost of such purchases or expropriations included, and assumptions used on intensity and preferred densification.

4) Based on 3) above, comparisons should include some projection on ridership potential that will arise from station location, and include assumptions on employment and type of development occupancy.

 5) Comparisons must include accessing the Downtown GO station efficiently, taking into account the potential of mobility hub development, clearly show how alignment will interface with a potential Queen Street LRT line, and future LRT expansions to the Caledon border.

6) Comparisons must include the impact of changes in bus transit routing which will act as feeders to the LRT at chosen station nodes.

7) Comparisons on time for the trains to go from Steeles and the presently committed terminus of the LRT line, to the Downtown Brampton GO Station.

8) Comparisons on costs required for each line, including station design and signalization.

9) Comparisons that reflect potential traffic congestion and conflict on each route, and an outline of potential safety challenges and ridership convenience requirements.

10 Comparisons must include potential and optimal assessment increases which would improve the tax base.

11) Comparisons must include inventory of potential development sites that would be considered for intensification. (Office, institutional, residential)

12) The TPAP for the Main Street alignment was completed in a 6 month time frame following the format below. The TPAP was endorsed by Metrolinx and was sufficient to receive full funding from the Province. It is our recommendation that we follow the same TPAP timeline for both the McLaughlin and Kennedy routes.

 

Main Street TPAP Process:

TPAP will take six months and will examine impacts to transportation and utilities, socio-economic, natural and cultural environments.

The information gathered will be publicly released in June as an Environmental Project Report (EPR).

The timeline for the TPAP includes:

  • 120 days for consultation on positive and negative environmental impacts and preparation of the EPR;
  • 30 days for public/government agency review and comment on the EPR;
  • 35 days for the minister of the environment to decide if the project can proceed, or if more work is needed.

During the TPAP, work will continue on the design of the project. Brampton and Mississauga councils will be updated after the 120 days of consultation.

http://CFBB’s Brief Outline for Terms of Reference- Alternate LRT Route studies – Kennedy and McLaughlin

Doug Bryden & Chris Bejnar Co-Chairs CFBB


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07. July 2016 · Write a comment · Categories: LRT
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CFBB Comment – July 6, 2016 – Approval of the June 20th Planning and Infrastructure Committee Report (McLaughlin and Kennedy EA’s)

 

CFBB applauds the decision reached at the last Planning and Infrastructure Committee to accept the staff recommendation to proceed with Environmental Assessments on the two remaining LRT routes – up McLaughlin or Kennedy to arrive at the Brampton Downtown GO Mobility Hub. Ratifying that decision by approving the Minutes of the Committee meeting at Council on July 6th now allows staff to focus on moving these two projects ahead, quickly and in a well- organized fashion. Regular and frequent progress reports to Planning and Council and to the public will be essential to ensure the directive from Council is both respected and honoured in a timely manner. It is our belief that both studies can be completed within an 18 month period as to allow THIS Council the opportunity to finally determine what alignment choice is best.

 

It is not a secret that, in CFBB’s opinion, the history of this file has not been exemplary, and on critical review, it should provide instruction for future significant infrastructural incursions by higher government levels.   Of utmost importance is that decisions relating to major infrastructure commitments and their local impact should rest entirely with the Municipal government and their elected representatives.

 

The announcement by Metrolinx on their proposed LRT route through Downtown to the GO station, “fully funded” and on a “take it or leave it basis”, was a surprise to Council and the community, for the route had been overwhelmingly turned down by the previous Council 10-1 . The present Council was simply “not ready” to approve the route without further study and analysis. Further, upon review, neither was Metrolinx ready, for there were too many unknowns and incomplete answers dealing with ridership projections, operating responsibilities for shortfalls, and potential capital cost exposures that would befall the Brampton taxpayer. It was clear that the announcement had been premature, and a rejection of the offer, along with the disproportionate amount that was projected to be allotted to Brampton (less than $400 million), was not only a responsible decision by Council, but a prudent one.

 

Subsequently, after yet another attempt by staff to put forward a tunneling option through Downtown at considerable cost, Council decided to have staff carry out complete studies and analyses on three alternative routes – McLaughlin, Kennedy, and through a small section of the Etobicoke Creek valley. It was expected that comparisons of all three routes would be presented by staff to Council at the June 20th Planning and Infrastructure Committee meeting, who would then fully debate the merits of each, hopefully make a decision, and have staff proceed to undertake an Environmental Assessment of the chosen route for comment and input from the public. That, of course, did not happen. Staff not only did not do the detailed comparisons of the three alternatives, but chose instead to remove consideration of the Valley route because of a negative reaction by the TRCA Board. If staff had completed a detailed report as instructed by Council on March 7th, proper debate and discussion could have had Council agreeing to move forward with only ONE route alignment. Instead, they recommended EA’s for the two remaining routes, doubling the cost to the taxpayer.

 

In order to move this LRT file ahead, prevent further wastage of time and money, and have a “shovel ready” Council approved project available for funding when the next tranche of transit funding from the higher level governments might be allotted, Council approved the staff recommendation. At least, both prospective routes avoid dealing with the challenging flood plain, which has brought so much grief and angst to Council and impacted communities in the past.

 

CFBB will be keeping a close watching brief on staff progress on these assessments, and will be prepared to comment on progress reports and the final debate when the detailed route studies are complete and presented.

 

 

Chris and Doug – July 6, 2016


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Referendums

Referendums can be both divisive and dangerous, and especially these days when truth telling and fact finding are all too often abandoned in argument. Media reporting and journalistic licence contribute to voter confusion, and individual voting decisions are easily swayed by the rhetoric of the charming and popular soothsayers and simplistic intellects, but who are usually uninformed and disinterested in outcome detail.

The latest example is “Brexit”, a foolhardy and rash referendum that has resulted in not only division within the population of Great Britain, but instability and uncertainty in the economy and financial markets around the world, a leaderless Government that must negotiate the divorce from Europe, and the possibility of a breakup of the country itself into independent units, much diminished as a respected powerhouse on the world stage.

I use this latest example to recall the outcry of some in the public eye in Brampton that a referendum should be held to determine the route of the LRT through downtown to the GO station. To their collective credit, saner heads prevailed, and the wish of many did not materialize.

But it brings up a very important point. Are elected representatives in Brampton to simply follow the opinions and wishes of the electorate, or are they elected to make decisions based on sound judgement and reasoned analysis, even if the decision reached is not always popular?

Perhaps the words of Edmund Burke, the intellectual father of British Conservatism, are worthy of remembering.

“Government and legislation are matters of reason and judgement, – and not of inclination. Your representative owes you not his industry only, but his judgement, and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion”.

Perhaps some food for thought.

Cheers,

Doug Bryden

July 4, 2016


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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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