13. July 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: LRT · Tags: ,
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HM LRT

View the full Powerpoint here

The Future of our Downtown is at a Crossroads.

  • This is not a LRT/ NO LRT debate like our Mayor, certain Councillors, senior staff and a few special interest groups have made it out to be.
  • This debate is about what final alignment is best for Brampton’s future and prosperity.
  • CFBB fully supports the proposed Metrolinx HM LRT route up to Steeles Ave. It’s the final alignment that we strongly oppose.

Before I begin my delegation, I would like to acknowledge that if it wasn’t for just a FEW concerned residents and Councillors, there would have been NO meeting tonight, NO further debate and NO exchange of ideas and opinions. On just one weeks notice from staff releasing their recommendation report, a quick and irresponsible decision would have likely succeeded on June 22 @ 1:00 pm in the afternoon when most are at work and can’t voice their opinions. For such an important and transformational project, a once in a lifetime opportunity , it was hastily included and buried within an already jam packed Planning and Infrastructure meeting agenda. It was a page taken right out of the playbook of our former Mayor, something that most of you campaigned passionately against with promises of a more inclusive and open administration. Many voters were very disappointed , and continue to be , by these actions.

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Don’t we deserve the “BEST” LRT route into the Downtown GO for our City, not just the most “COST EFFECTIVE” ? Why have we been presented with an unacceptable “TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT” option from this provincial government? Toronto, Mississauga, Hamilton and Kitchener/Waterloo all had their say as to how their LRT/Rapid Transit systems were planned. Why isn’t Brampton being treated the same way?

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A Tale of Two Cities

Mississauga’s population of 725,000 is ranked 6th in Canada, 2nd in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).

Brampton’s population of 550,000- 600,000 is ranked 9th in Canada, 3rd in GTHA. We are the fastest growing Top 10 city in Canada! This City will grow by 200,000 + residents in the next 25 years.

Transit Investment in Mississauga over the last decade

  • For the $1.6 billion HM LRT, most of it $1.27 billion is for Mississauga’s portion, 19 stops, over 17.5 km of LRT
  • Mississauga Transit way a “true” BRT $260 million project consisting of an independent BRT system with 13 stations, $173 million was contributed by both provincial and federal governments. 
  • GO Parking Garages have been built at Clarkson and Erindale stations in the last 3 years $110 million investment (almost 3,000 spaces added). 
  • Meadowvale station almost doubled the size of their parking lot 6 years ago. 
  • Lakeshore line in Mississauga is already an ALL DAY service running every 30 minutes to Downtown Toronto. 
  • There has been a promise to electrify Lakeshore line, but NO FIRM date 
  • Investment of GO Bus Maintenance facility was in Mississauga (Streetsville) $45 million and 400 jobs
  • Mississauga has NINE GO stations across 3 lines (Port Credit, Clarkson, Lisgar, Meadowvale, Streetsville, Erindale, Cooksville, Dixie, and Malton. 

Transit Investment in Brampton over the last decade 

  • Hurontario /Main LRT- 5.6 km of LRT with 7 stops investment of approximately $334 million.
  • Only THREE GO stations , Bramalea, Downton Brampton and Mount Pleasant (all on Kitchener Line)
  • Bramalea station will see extended platforms for 12 car trains by 2017 and All Day GO service in the future with NO firm date announced.
  • Downtown Brampton station has very limited parking. If commuters don’t arrive before 7:00 am, there are NO parking spaces left. Desperately requires GO parking garage structure, ALL Day GO service has been promised for 10 years but NO firm date has been announced. (still likely 5-10 years away)
  • Mount Pleasant (new station opened in 2006).
  • ZUM Bus (not true BRT) continues expansion on Steeles Ave and Bovaird Dr. Total investment to date from Provincial and Federal governments has been $95 million each.
  • Promise of looking into Queen Street corridor Rapid Transit, most certainly BRT with proposed Metrolinx route, not LRT , NO firm date (could be 7-10 years away).

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Let ’s look at some examples of Elevated LRT / RT systems in North America

  • Vancouver’s Sky train through ravine & parkland area
  • Elevated LRT line in Honolulu
  • Crossing complex intersections

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How about some examples of Transit / Rail crossing parkland in Toronto

  • TTC Old Mill Subway elevated section across Humber River and King’s Mill Park in Toronto (some of the most expensive real estate in the City within close proximity.
  • TRCA managed watershed.
  • Freight rail overpass at the Weston Golf and Country Club adjacent to the Humber River Valley, another TRCA managed watershed.

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CFBB ’s Preferred Alternate Alignment (north of Nanwood Drive)

We (CFBB) fully support the proposed Metrolinx LRT route up to Nanwood Drive as an independent double track surface route. LRT double line becomes elevated north of Nanwood Dr. near the Etobicoke Creek and crosses northbound lanes of Main St. S. (Option 3b in staff report). Continues in a N/E trajectory into Meadowland Park along the edge of the Brampton Mall parking lot. Great opportunity to re-develop this area into a mixed-use residential and commercial “gateway”.

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Great view of Parkland and Etobicoke Creek from LRT train!

LRT route continues through Meadowland Park. Recreational activities and parkland can co-exist with quiet and pollution free elevated LRT line.

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LRT crosses Clarence Rd. bridge. Can be elevated or possibly integrated with bridge using traffic signals

LRT line then enters Centennial Park on north side of Etobicoke Creek

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Continues through Centennial Park in a N/E trajectory.

Crosses Etobicoke Creek to the east side of the Royal Canadian Legion lodge

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LRT line crosses the Etobicoke creek and enters Centennial Park

LRT line begins to turn in an easterly direction before the tennis court area of Centennial Park

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LRT line crosses Centre St. S, and makes turn to the north as it exits Centennial Park

Aerial view of Peel Memorial Centre and new Life Sciences District. Connecting this site with the LRT line is crucial to Brampton’s prosperity. It will help expand Downtown towards the east. (200,000 annual patient visits and 5,000 employees)

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Location of LRT Station at Peel Memorial Centre Site (West side)

Existing ZUM Queen and Brampton Transit buses arrive at grade level into an elevated Peel Memorial Centre LRT station. Station would be designed with option to add transfer for future LRT (at grade) for Queen St. Corridor Rapid Transit to Bramalea City Centre. This is crucial to Brampton’s Queen Street Corridor vision.

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LRT leaves station elevated and continues north parallel to Centre St. S.

Starts to turn west down the middle of Queen St. E, crossing onto Maple Ave. and runs parallel with the rail corridor on the north side

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LRT line crosses abandoned City parking lot

Elevated track now enters the YMCA Brampton parking lot with minimal impact

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The LRT line now crosses Main St. N elevated into an integrated LRT station / GO Parking Garage structure for 1000 -1200 cars on the third level. The garage can be designed to have the LRT leave the structure from the west side and merge with the Orangeville/Brampton rail corridor for future northerly expansion to Williams Pkwy or Bovaird Dr. W. It can also be designed to merge with the same rail corridor in a S/W trajectory linking to a possible University or research campus at the city owned Flower City lands.

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Metrolinx proposed Downtown GO LRT Station – Entry/Exit will cross Main St. N

By eliminating the proposed curbside stations at Queen & Main (Northbound) and Wellington & Main (Southbound) we can save approx. $5-7 million. Eliminating the proposed Downtown GO LRT station (at grade) and integrating it as an elevated station within a new GO Parking Garage structure, a further savings of $10 -15 million can be realized. These funds can be put towards the cost of the desperately needed GO Parking Garage structure w/integrated LRT Station. This will also assist to secure All-Day GO service to the station with increased parking capacity. (estimated cost of $45 -$50 million before savings )

Advantages of CFBB Elevated Route – Etobicoke Creek , PMC to Downtown GO

  1. Existing Flood Plain How can Metrolinx , TRCA and the Planning staff approve a surface alignment for the LRT right in the middle of the existing Flood plain without any plans to remedy the situation? In the event of a major flood everything north from Woodbrook Dr. to the proposed LRT Downtown GO station would be under water. How will this be approved under the current flood plain restrictions?

    Advantage

    We believe that an elevated LRT will have little or NO impact to any flood control measures that are planned by TRCA and LRT route will not be constrained by the flood plain restrictions that exist today. (SPA3)

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    Proposed Metrolinx surface alignment route and 3 stations are right in the heart of the existing flood plain.

    How was this approved by TRCA?

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    GO Rail surface line adjacent to Don River at Pottery Rd. – Toronto July 2013 , a TRCA managed waterway. Without any approved flood mitigation measures in place , will Brampton’s Downtown LRT route look like this?

  2. Development Charge and increased assessment – The numbers show that the population growth and development potential will be along the Queen Street corridor. What then is the economic justification to focus on Main Street and its low density, heritage designated properties north of Charolais, a stretch which represents over half of the total length (51%) of the LRT route in Brampton?

    Advantage

    An Elevated route connecting the Peel Memorial Centre and Queen Street corridor is taking the LRT to where the numbers show Brampton will see the most intensification and population growth. It will accelerate our Queen Street corridor vision by at least 10 years.

     

  3. Difficult expansion for future LRT – We oppose the proposed location of the Terminus station on the west side of Main St. just north of the CN rail overpass with trains required to cross Main St.

    N. for entry/exit privileges. How has Metrolinx planned to expand the LRT to reach the Peel Memorial Centre campus and the Queen Street corridor? We believe it will be impossible for any future expansion from this site. It will require a complete re-design of the system, an unlikely financial reality. What is most likely to be approved is a BRT route that will still share the entry into the Downtown (like the existing Queen Zum, then become independent of vehicular traffic further along Queen St. E.

    Advantage

    Elevated station at both the Peel Memorial Centre site and Downtown GO Parking Garage will allow for a seamless expansion of the LRT to the Queen Street corridor and future northern expansion.

  4. Heritage – St. Paul’s United Church, a superb heritage structure which dates from 1886, is an active and growing congregation. How will it be able to handle weddings and funerals with appropriate vehicles standing by at the foot of their entrance stairs and sidewalk, obstructing curb side trains from passing by?

    Advantage

    With an elevated route away from the Heritage district, we eliminate any impact to properties like St. Paul’s Church

  5. Ambiance We take great and understandable pride in the Main Street entrance to our City and its downtown. How easily will that largely residential route be despoiled by adding overhead wiring, poles and transformer substations along the route north of Nanwood Dr.

    Advantage

    With an elevated route away from the Main St. S Heritage homes and Historic Downtown, again we eliminate all impact to the ambience of the area. There will be no overhead wires, extensive signage, extra poles and transformer substations.

  6. Parking Routing along Main Street both sides with tracks at curbside adjacent to the sidewalks will remove all street parking throughout the day and early evening. Many Downtown merchants rely on their customers being able to park in close proximity to their business. Will there be enough businesses that survive to keep Downtown Brampton a destination point?

    Advantage

    All Street parking is left intact. Additional Parking Garage w/Integrated LRT Station at the Downtown GO will add 1000+ parking spaces

  7. Construction – What makes matters worse for them (and for us) will be a two year construction period, with that construction impeding traffic flow through downtown. This could quite easily be the death knell of our downtown!

    Advantage

    All the headaches and pain of ripping apart Main St. for 2 years are gone. All construction of the elevated route north of Nanwood will have minimal impact to street traffic and any business. There should be a considerable cost savings to the project as a result.

  8. Congestion – The inner core through the Four Corners, and especially at Nelson and Main, is already unacceptably congested. And into this bottleneck of competing traffic, the three car LRT will be crammed, along with cars, trucks, Zum buses, cyclists and pedestrians. With two lighted intersections on Main less than 100 m apart, the potential for train delays and grid lock is a certainty.

    Advantage

    All 4 lanes are kept open for automobile and bicycle traffic.

  9. Only One Downtown stop is required – The walking distance from the Downtown GO station to anywhere in the inner core is approximately 5 minutes – from City Hall to the GO station is about 250 m. That distance is well short of the distance travelled in downtown Toronto to access either the Yonge or University subway lines (about 300-350 m.). Intermediate and additional stops within the inner core will simply add time delays.

    Advantage

    Will save approximately $5-10 million eliminating the Main/Wellington

    (southbound) and Main/Queen (northbound).

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  10. Traffic Conflict – For the LRT to access the GO station just beyond the rail overpass, the trains will have to block north and southbound traffic to negotiate access and egress. The potential for vehicular/tram collisions is a real possibility there and throughout the core. For example, in just one small stretch from Clarence St. to Woodbrook Dr. on Main, there have been 113 police reported collisions in the last 5 years, and two pedestrian injuries!

    Advantage

    With an elevated route away from the narrow stretch of Main St. through the Heritage and Downtown districts, we ELIMINATE any possibility of collisions between cars, bicycles and pedestrians that would cause commuter and traffic chaos

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  11. Safety – The safety of pedestrians along sidewalks beside the curbs within a few feet of the trams, and cyclists manoeuvring through the car/bus/tram traffic, accidents are sure to occur, and the potential for travel delays and driver frustration can be a serious concern. Or does that matter?

    Advantage

    Pedestrians will be able to stroll freely without having to look over their shoulders. It will keep the Downtown core child, pet and bicycle friendly.

    Proposed Metrolinx curb side LRT lines running parallel with the sidewalks through the Downtown core

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  12. Brampton Traditions – Brampton has many established festivals, parades and the very popular Farmer’s Market during summer Saturdays. Are these events sacrificed so that the trains can keep to their pre-set schedules, or will the trams be told to turn around at Wellington and not travel to the GO station, a real inconvenience to the ridership. How Mickey Mouse is that?

Advantage

Plans are to create a larger event space to include the 4 corners of Main and Queen. (Phase 1- LED Screen) With and elevated route away from the Downtown core we avoid any disruption to festival and events. These events can now be expanded without causing inconvenience to transit commuters trying to connect with the Downtown GO and Bus station.

To close, staff indicated at the June 22nd Planning and Infrastructure meeting that Brampton had until the Fall of 2015 to finalize a preferred route alignment for the HM LRT.

So why are we deciding tonight? Why is July 8th so important? With construction scheduled to begin in 2018, that’s still 2 ½ years away!

CFBB are suggesting that only 3 proposals move forward with a comprehensive analysis of each proposal that will include accurate costing , development charge potential, intensification potential and financing options. We need Mayor Jeffrey and this Council to actually negotiate for additional funding from both the Provincial and Federal governments, not just take the left overs from a Mississauga focussed project.

With so much information presented tonight, wouldn’t it be prudent to take a step back and defer the vote until early Fall? The citizens of our City are entitled to the same process as recently witnessed in Toronto with the Gardiner Expressway East decision. Toronto Council had 3 complete options and over 2 months to study them. Two full days were then allocated at Council to debate the options until a final vote was conducted.

Well everyone , this is our Gardiner Expressway moment. Don’t we deserve the same process?

Top 3 Proposals that should be considered by Council for a Fall 2015 Decision

  1. Elevated route from Nanwood Drive – Etobicoke Creek / PMC site / Downtown GO Parking Garage w/integrated LRT Station

  2. Surface route turning left onto Steeles Ave. W to Sheridan College, North onto McLaughlin Rd. to the Flower City campus, then N/E along existing rail corridor to Downtown GO Parking Garage w/integrated LRT Station, then elevated LRT section into PMC site (as with Option 1)

  3. Surface route stopping at Steeles Avenue FOR NOW. The $200 million savings is allocated to ensure that the Brampton Downtown GO station gets All-Day GO service within 3 years.


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29. June 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: LRT · Tags:
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LRT is Good for Brampton, let’s get the final route alignment RIGHT!

 

We at the CFBB (Citizens for a Better Brampton) believe our City and its Council is on the cusp of making an historical, transformational decision that will impact our growth patterns and directions for years into the future. It is essential to treat this decision with the deep respect and analysis it deserves, having reviewed all appropriate options and alternatives in a way that satisfies a questioning public to the greatest extent possible.

 

So that there is complete understanding of the CFBB position, let us be clear.

 

1) We are totally supportive of the regeneration and sensitive development of the inner core of downtown Brampton.

2) We accept unconditionally the LRT concept and its route up Hurontario/Main to Nanwood Dr.

3) We believe the inner core of downtown Brampton should have only one LRT station at the present GO transfer location.

4) We welcome and are grateful for the Province and the Metrolinx capital funding commitment for the LRT in Brampton, an announcement made only 2 months ago and a complete surprise to many.

5) We appreciate the work that has been done by City staff and consultants for Metrolinx, although many of them do not reside in Brampton and are perhaps lacking the passion of those who do live and work here and know the City well.

 

However, the most important issue for the CFBB and the community is this – what is the most appropriate and optimal routing for the LRT north of Nanwood Dr.?

 

We are unalterably opposed to the current proposed route north of Nanwood Dr. through the small, Heritage and Business district on Main Street to arrive at the Downtown GO Station just north of the Rail overpass.

 

Here’s why:

 

1) Congestion -The inner core through the Four Corners, especially at Nelson and Main is already unacceptably congested. To introduce (cram) into this congestion a three car LRT train crossing Main St N as the entry / exit point for the LRT , dividing two lighted intersections less than 100 m apart is sheer madness. This will cause traffic chaos, will cause delays for the trains and the problem will only get worse, not better. With a projected population of 850,000 + residents in the next 25 years, this already congested area will become a bottleneck for vehicular and transit traffic.

 

2) Traffic Conflict – For the LRT to access the GO station just beyond the CN rail overpass, it will have to tie up vehicular traffic both from the south and from the north while it negotiates the constricted access point. There is plenty of opportunity for train/vehicle collisions.  For example, just one small stretch from Main St. S from Clarence St. to Woodbrook Dr. (approx. 200 m) has seen over 113 police “reported” collisions in the last 5 years and 2 pedestrian injuries. There have been many more unreported minor collisions as well.  Having a shared LRT/vehicle route will undoubtedly cause LRT / vehicle collisions resulting in major delays for transit commuters and drivers.

 

3) Parking – Routing along Main Street both sides with tracks at curbside adjacent to the sidewalks will remove all street parking throughout the day and early evening. Many Downtown merchants rely on their customers being able to park in close proximity to their business.

 

4) Safety – It is hard to imagine travelling curbside train traffic so close to the narrowed sidewalks being safe for the walking public. As stated, the responsibility will fall entirely onto the LRT train technician to avoid any pedestrian, bicycle or vehicle collisions.

 

5) Ambiance – We take great and understandable pride in the Hurontario Street entrance to our City and its downtown. How easily will that largely residential route be despoiled by adding overhead wiring, poles and transformer substations along the route north of Nanwood.

 

 

6) Construction – To tear up Main Street through the heritage area for up to two years will be the death knell of the downtown single proprietor retailers in the Downtown core. It will greatly impact traffic flow and as in most projects like this impede efficient construction of the transit line. These projects are never delivered on-time and on budget.

 

7) Brampton Traditions – Quaint as it may sound, Brampton has many established festivals, parades and the very popular Farmer’s Market during the summer Saturdays. To accommodate these traditions, we understand, the LRT northbound trains would simply stop and reverse at Wellington Street for those periods of alternative use of the downtown. Inconvenience for the ridership to access the GO facility during those times seems not to have been considered, and at best is “mickey mouse”.

 

8) St. Paul’s United Church – It is one of the oldest Churches in downtown and is a superb heritage structure dating from 1886. How will it be able to handle funerals and weddings with appropriate vehicles standing by at the foot of their entrance stairs and sidewalk, obstructing curbside trains from using the tracks?

 

9) Difficult expansion for future LRT routes– Last but not least, we oppose the proposed location of the Terminus station on the west side of Main St.  just north of the CN rail overpass with trains having to cross Main St. N for entry/exit privileges.  How has Metrolinx planned to expand the LRT to reach the Peel Memorial Centre campus or for the possibility of a northern expansion route on Main St.? We believe it will be impossible for any future expansion from this site. It will require a complete re-design of the system, an unlikely financial reality.

 

To date, these negatives to the route through downtown and its heritage district have not been answered. Nor has there been any explanation as to how this route alone will lead to appropriate intensification, preserve the heritage district, and make downtown a friendly pedestrian enclave that would seal its economic success.

Fortunately, CFBB believes that the following alternative has significant benefit and merits deep and not superficial analysis.

 

 

CFBB Alternate Route Alignment: (3 Stations- Nanwood, Peel Memorial Centre, Downtown GO)

 

Our preferred routing is an elevated double track LRT beginning just north of Nanwood Dr, running through the Etobicoke creek ravine, over Clarence St. to the Peel Memorial Centre site. The PMC station would be built and planned with an option to extend the LRT to Queen St. E when financially feasible.   It would then continue elevated over the Centre/Queen intersection, pass to the north side of the CN rail overpass, continue in a NW direction parallel to the YMCA parking lot, over Union and along Nelson St. E, elevated over Main St. N and enter at the second level of a new 1000 car GO parking garage structure located at the west end of the existing GO parking lot. Provisions would be designed into the garage to allow for the LRT train to exit the garage from the west side and merge with the existing Orangeville/ Brampton rail corridor and head north to Williams Parkway or even Bovaird Dr. W.  It could also be designed for further westward extension should an educational or research node be developed in the future at the Flower City campus lands. With the proposed All-Day GO service planned along the Kitchener line, this parking garage will only help solidify our chances for this much needed service. It will also deliver desperately need parking sooner than later to many GO train commuters.

Our alternate and preferred route involves a station at the west side of the Peel Memorial Centre, a major hospital node presently abuilding in which the province ($478M) and the municipal taxpayers of Brampton ($60M) have made significant funding commitments. Peel Memorial is an ambulatory hospital reflecting the very latest in health and wellness care. It will provide employment for over 5000 people and will attract in excess of 200,000 patient/visitor visits. Significant parking at a cost will be provided, but not everyone will access the facility by car. A convenient and accessible LRT to this intense node is, in our opinion, a must for patient and visitor alike. It will help leverage the city’s and province’s investments.

Clearly, this routing avoids all the negatives of the proposed route, and in no way compromises the appropriate redevelopment of the tight inner core, where the entire area is within a 5-7 minute walk of the GO downtown transportation hub. Heritage aspects of the core are not sacrificed. All parades, festivals and the very popular Farmers market can continue to function without any conflicts. Expansion of these popular events can even occur to attract more visitors into the Downtown core.

As part of a second and future phase, a station at the Peel Memorial Centre has the distinct advantage of becoming a convenient transfer point to extend the system to merge with Queen St. E. From there it’s an easily planned route that would include stops at Kennedy, Hansen, Rutherford, West, Dixie and end at the Bramalea City Centre’s ZUM bus terminal located on Team Canada Dr.  Future phases of an expanded LRT system to the north can be easily accommodated at the Downtown Transit hub with appropriate and anticipatory pre-planning and design.

 

Ravine Lands

The Meadow Land Park is used on occasion by cyclists and walkers, but the intensity of use is low. Running a low level quiet LRT train through the land and up to the Peel Memorial Centre would allow many travellers to enjoy the vistas and greenery, and it would not need to conflict with existing pedestrian traffic and recreational usage. There are precedent examples in Toronto where the greater good has been accommodated, and ravine systems have been used as transportation corridors.  As well, having an elevated track through this area will most certainly prevent any fears of flooding the train or putting lives at risk. The train would be quiet, pollution free, and impact to parkland or ravine lands would be very minimal. According to SNC Lavelin this route would also be 0.4 minutes faster than what has been proposed. TRCA has briefly stated on preliminary analysis that this option may negate the majority of options to reduce flooding in Downtown Brampton. How exactly would this route impact any plans? It is our opinion that our preferred route will have negligible impact on any proposed Etobicoke Creek Revitalization / Flood mitigation proposals already reviewed.

 

Costing

We are in agreement with the Metrolinx proposal from Mississauga north to Nanwood. All we are asking is that the cost of the LRT north from Nanwood be separated out to allow Brampton to know the available funding allocation for the last section in Brampton. We would then be able to determine through costing analysis whether this allocation would be sufficient for the final leg or whether our preferred route would need additional funding from the province, the federal government, and/or from the Brampton taxpayer.  By eliminating the need to tear up Main St, we can save considerable construction time and costs. By incorporating a station within a desperately needed parking garage facility also will save millions of dollars building these two projects separately.  SNC Lavelin’s report stated that it will cost an additional $172 million for this option. Have they factored in the savings in construction costs that would occur by building this route and combining a Downtown GO station with a parking garage structure?

 

Specific comments and concerns:

 

1) The position of Mayor Jeffrey in support of the Main Street alignment reflects, we believe, her difficulty in transitioning from her previous provincial cabinet position to that of Mayor of a growing City. As a Cabinet Minister, decisions made were province wide with overall impact broad and general. But at the municipal level, where democracy is keenest and where the “rubber meets the road”, specific issues require quite detailed analysis and understanding of impact and sensitivity. Opposition builds at a moment’s notice, organized and emotional by an engaged citizenry. It deserves an honest hearing and specific responses are necessary which usually require time for adequate debate and discussion.  For whatever reason, the Mayor appears to be in step with the Province and Metrolinx and accepting, or fearing consequences of not accepting, positions being taken by government bodies which have shown no interest or sensitivity to the outcry of local concerns and disagreements. That has to change, and there is some small evidence that Mayor Jeffrey has listened to her electorate, and moved debate and discussion on the LRT routing alone into July. That is still a tight timeframe, and it is occurring in the summer, not ideal for the many that are away for summer holidays.

 

2) The threats coming out of Metrolinx that relate to delays for changes in routing, are simply not appreciated, not realistic, and quite frankly, futile. Brampton only learned 2 months ago that the Mississauga-Brampton LRT would be fully funded by the Province, a surprise announcement that now has turned into a requirement to accept a routing through the Main Street of downtown Brampton and its heritage district – a routing that was turned down by last year’s previous Council in a 10-1 vote for valid reasons. To have this unpopular routing up Main Street “imposed” upon Bramptonians without serious debate, and especially because of the freshness of the funding commitment, is simply unacceptable. Hackles are raised, and Metrolinx needs to step back and listen to local concerns and alternatives. It would be folly to proceed without local population backing and a near unanimous decision by Council. To date, the City Council is split down the middle, and the Mayor may find that her legacy will be ruined if she is the deciding vote in favour of proceeding with a flawed plan. Mayor Jeffrey needs to reflect on the demise of Brampton’s former Mayor regarding the City Hall expansion. Staff’s presentation at the Planning and Infrastructure meeting of June 22, 2015 clearly stated that a decision had to be reached by the fall of 2015. So what’s the rush to make a decision at the July 8th meeting?  History tells us that timelines and signed contracts can be easily broken for other projects yet asking for a proper evaluation of what’s best for Brampton’s future is being ignored.

 

3) It probably is not altogether lost on the Province and Metrolinx that they are dealing with taxpayer money, in this case coming from the sale of a long held cherished asset of the Province. They must be prudent stewards of this potential windfall, and sensitive that it be used in a positive and optimal way. To expedite this decision unreasonably suggests that prudency has gone missing.

 

4) Mississauga and other GTA communities were afforded sufficient time to determine best and most favoured LRT routing. Why does Brampton not deserve the same courtesy? We are the 3rd largest and fastest growing municipality in the GTHA, only behind Toronto and Mississauga. Don’t we have the right to determine what will benefit Brampton the most?

 

5) Brampton City staff have as yet not made the case that the Main Street routing will be the reason for the rebirth of downtown Brampton. From the GO transit hub station, all of Downtown Brampton inner core can reached within 5-7 minutes walking time, well within acceptable time limits!

 

6) It is hard to see how a Main Street two track system through downtown will benefit Bramptonians. The intensity of ridership along the route with few stops north of Steeles would appear to be light because it is simply not convenient enough to take people out of their cars. It will, however be used by some to travel from Brampton to Mississauga for work or shopping, perhaps to the detriment of Bramalea City Centre. It is not difficult to see that Mississauga is the real beneficiary to the Main Street route from the Brampton Go Station transit hub.

 

7) The use of pictures of the LRT operating in a number of European cities has confirmed that twisted cobblestone, narrow and meandering streets there in no way reflect the Brampton Main Street condition, clogged with car traffic. Let’s not forget that Main St. is one of the busiest arterial roadways in Peel Region.

 

 

To Mayor Jeffrey and Council:

 

Please ‘make haste slowly’, and continue to take time to listen to the community. The most appropriate routing is their decision.

Please do not threaten loss of funding in order to rush a decision of major import.  Staff has clearly stated we have until the fall of 2015 to finalize the Brampton route alignment.

 

Ensure that there is close to unanimity on Council to back the decision reached, or folly is sure to follow.

 

Let’s make sure we get it right!

 

What Metrolinx has proposed is the most “cost effective” route, not the “best” route for Brampton’s long term growth and prosperity.


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22. June 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: LRT · Tags:
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We (CFBB) are strongly recommending that staff remove and reschedule item E6 (File Ha.a / EA 10-3130-101) from the June 22, 2015 Planning and Infrastructure Agenda.

 

As the Hurontario/Main LRT is a transformational project that only has once chance of “getting it right” , this alone is reason enough to defer this item so that there will be enough time to properly debate this issue on its own, not mixed in with a very busy Planning and Infrastructure agenda.  The fact that this has been included and approved by City Staff is an issue all on its own!  It is irresponsible for staff to have planned the meeting with this item included on the agenda.   Have we not learned anything from the Dominus City Hall expansion process over the last several years?  Are we really willing to move forward on such an important project by potentially ONE deciding vote?  To us (CFBB), this sounds all too familiar and look at where it got us last time.

 

In October, we thought we were casting a vote for a more inclusive municipal government, one that will listen to its constituents and most certainly vote in favour of what is truly best for this city moving forward.  No one said that it was going to be easy!  There are plenty of issue to discuss, and our feeling is that all available data and options have not been incorporated into the staff recommendation report. Items that we will try to raise as a delegation for the upcoming meeting.

 

From the Committee of Council resolution of September 3, 2014 , the public believed that the surface alignment as proposed was “off the table” and that staff were going to recommend a preferred alternate route for the Downtown. This resolution was supported unanimously by a 10-1 vote (with Susan Fennell voting against).  Was this resolution somehow  “misinterpreted” by senior staff?  Was it disregarded?  How is it possible that the final recommendation is exactly the same?  Who is actually running City Hall, senior staff or our elected representatives?  This is yet another reason for everyone to consider deferring this important item to another date and time.  Anything less will be irresponsible and unacceptable to the residents and taxpayers of this City.

 

Is such a request that difficult to consider?  Has the Province released any funds for the Hurontario/Main LRT project? Are shovels ready to start digging? With 21 km of the 23 km route finalized, and a construction starting date of 2018, can we not take an extra few more weeks or even the summer months to evaluate all options for this project?  In Toronto, the LRT for Scarborough was debated for almost 1 year  and then changed to a subway.  Why can’t we in Brampton get a proper and independent meeting for such an important project as this?

 

Madam Mayor, all we are asking for is to have a separate public meeting to properly debate all of the options.  Don’t we want this project to provide the maximum benefit for the future growth and vison for our City?


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CFBB is pleased to have the opportunity to comment upon the long awaited and recently released Rust-D’Eye Report. Given the fact that CFBB was formed initially three plus years ago due to what we considered a flawed RFP and contract award for the City Hall expansion, we have been following this project with more than a keen eye. We have made numerous submissions to Council and the media on various concerns throughout the process, and continue to do so today. We have submitted a more detailed summary to all Council members for your review.

Our Comments

1) We add our voice to the chorus of upraised shouts in the community and beyond saying that this report lacks credibility. It is largely based on a series of interviews and discussions with staff (some already departed) and consultants, all of whom were deeply involved in the development of the ‘Competitive Dialogue’ process and contract award through to the actual construction and partial occupancy of the City Hall expansion. With a lawsuit hanging over their collective heads, why would anyone admit to a flawed, little understood process, or that the process could have been implemented better, or that staff acted improperly, or without authority? Shouldn’t Council have been able to anticipate the outcome without spending an inordinate amount of taxpayer money, to this point according to the media having reached $268,000?

No attempt seems to have been made to interview outside groups like ourselves that might have had a different view or perspective based on Proposal Call and development experience. That seems an obvious shortcoming. A listing of those interviewed should have been included as an Addendum.

Mr. Rust-D’Eye appears to have had an altogether similar experience in the neighbouring community of Oshawa, where his report there enraged the public and garnered charges of “whitewash”. Perhaps if Councils could set different parameters for these ‘investigative’ reports and how they should be mandated and prepared, credibility of the ‘fact finding’ could be improved. Best practice would have been to hire a well-known specialist in municipal procurement rather than a lawyer whose firm had past connections with the City. It would have allayed any sense of conflict of interest.

2) It seems very hard to understand why the City needed to go to the expense of hiring a highly paid consultant to recommend and help implement the ‘Competitive Dialogue’ RFP process, a European import procurement concept which was totally unfamiliar in Canada. It was only instigated in the U.K. in 2006 to be used in large and complex projects. To date, so few have been completed that there is limited experience with its success or legal exposures. The interpretation of the process by staff and the Canadian consultant resulted in extreme secrecy and control of information, shutting out even the elected politicians as well as the public. In our opinion, it was simply an inappropriate, costly, and unduly complicated concept to be used in Brampton to build its relatively small, straight forward City Hall expansion project for which the public demanded transparency and accountability. Too much authority and latitude was delegated to staff who were themselves unfamiliar with the process and seemingly not schooled in development matters.

And yet, Mr. Rust D’Eye has no trouble exhorting the concept and process as being unflawed, well implemented and appropriate for Brampton. We believe he is a little out of touch with reality here in Brampton.

 

3) When 40 plus RFP packages were taken out by a variety of interested parties, but only three applications were received, why didn’t the alarm bells sound that there just might be something wrong with the Call. After all, the City Hall expansion project should have been seen as an attractive opportunity by the development community, particularly with a solid Brampton city tenancy in an economically difficult climate at the time.

We can speculate on why the response was so completely poor – process too secretive, terms too unfair and one-sided, Brampton past reputation for Calls, a feeling that the outcome was known in advance. Whatever, only three replied; surely a minimum number to indicate a successful competition, and one of those was disqualified. Imagine! Only two potential players remained. Had it not been for Brampton tenant requirements, this RFP should have been cancelled.

Clearly, this RFP Call is seen here and elsewhere as an abject failure. The Brampton public never had the opportunity to see refreshing creativity with the efforts of an enthused development community.

So Mr. Rust D’Eye’s enthusiastic description of the process and outcome carries little weight, and in fact, suggests a not very informed view.

 

4) The report includes the report of Fay Booker, a financial consultant, retained to analyse the entire financial arrangement and whether it represented “value for money”. Her findings in our view are the real Achilles heel for Mr. Rust-D’Eye’s positive conclusions, for she makes it clear that Brampton overpaid by approximately $36 M going the route that they did with the selected contractor, Dominus. That parallels conclusions that CFBB reached a few years ago. Once we were able to find out the areas of the component parts of the project (not from the City but from Freedom of Information Ontario!), we used industry standard and published construction cost information and ascertained that the Dominus project development cost was in excess of 20% higher than it should have been. That, of course, translates into higher annual rental payments.

For Mr. Rust-D’Eye to reach the conclusion that, faced with the Booker analysis, the deal with Dominus represented good “value for money” is quite beyond comprehension. No matter what the report says, the Brampton taxpayer has been “shafted” because of previous Council decisions on this project. They, perhaps, unwittingly allowed it to happen on their watch. What a legacy to leave for the citizens of Brampton who will be paying for this lapse in good judgement for the next 25 years.

 

5) The so called ‘Option Agreement” regarding a small piece of land needed for Phase Two (Library Phase) appears to be one of the great “sleight of hand” moves. Apparently, through a little known capital acquisition fund mentioned in Addendum One of the RFP, staff have the right and authority to make land acquisitions without specific Council approval. Staff used that fund to pay a fee for a three year, irrevocable land option for $480,000 to secure the land for Dominus, unbeknownst to Council. The question we would have: Is use of this fund legitimate to purchase an option only, money which would be lost unless Phase two proceeded and which would require a further outlay of $2M to actually purchase the land in three years’ time, all without verification by Council?

The Rust-D’Eye report seems to sanction and not be troubled by this move. We are not so sure. Why should Council not have been informed, just to be open and accountable? But that seems to be the way with this whole project.

 

6) The former CAO has stated that staff had the authority to transfer the Dominus lease agreement (and, presumably, the original agreement with Dominus) to the new landlord Fengate without ever advising Council. That seems to us to be a real stretch, given that the deal with Dominus described them as “the long term partner with the City”. Did staff assume authority to, in effect, free wheel with formal agreements using their own best judgement? Did Council even know about their new “long term partner” before the deal was papered? And shouldn’t it have? Mr. Rust-D’Eye seems not to have been bothered by this extraordinary assumption of power by staff.

By the same token, staff along with the Mayor, agreed to cap the penalty for Dominus for missing delivery dates. Shouldn’t that have been a Council decision?

Had substantial completion been achieved last summer and so certified by the architect when Dominus decided to depart the project and sell their interest to Fengate? Was the building ready for tenant occupancy with appropriate occupancy permits issued to allow tenants to occupy the space without liability and for rental payments to commence?

So many questions arise when the Council and the public are not made privy to basic information to which they should be entitled or be made aware. Secrecy begets secrecy, and trust is easily eroded.

Summary

For us, the conclusions of the interim Auditor General’s report on a whole host of accounts does not stand muster. It lacks credibility, particularly so because it ignores the Booker findings that show the Dominus deal to have been far more expensive than a more traditional and transparent arrangement to build the needed facilities. Additionally, to have found and supported interviewee accounts of implementation perfection defies reality.

A process to improve our SWQ really began in 2005, that’s 10 years ago! It regained momentum in the summer of 2009 and almost 6 years later we still don’t have a project that is complete, a project that actually re-developed the SWQ of the Downtown, a project that ignored any architectural integrity and design, didn’t involve the public or elected officials, was too expensive, has made re-development of the actual SWQ more complicated, was secretive and filled with controversy. We have only one comment…..…WHY?

Many of you ran for elected office on the promise to “clean up” City Hall, make it more open and transparent, more accountable and to restore business community and taxpayer confidence.   Quite frankly, if it wasn’t for the efforts of a few Council members, a few concerned residents and business owners, and one reporter, the sweeping change of voter sentiment that helped you get elected might have never happened.

We believe everyone here is familiar with the saying, “you learn from your own mistakes”. So please tell me how can the city of Brampton move forward and become a leader, a model for accountability and transparency if we don’t even admit that any mistakes were made?

Thank you.

Doug Bryden and Chris Bejnar, and John Buch

Co-Chairs – CFBB 


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