The following is a letter that was sent to all Ministers and MPPs on February 14th, 2017
Good afternoon everyone,
Tomorrow, Brampton City Council will be debating the next phase for our LRT project. A project that has seen its share of controversy and spirited debate over the past 2 years. Brampton City Council will be considering two alternate routes (McLaughlin & Kennedy) with both routes having the potential to connect the Hurontario LRT to the Downtown Brampton GO Station. City Council will be debating and voting on a staff recommendation report that commits funding to begin an expensive EA process for these alternate routes.
Our belief is that neither route has the potential to combine several projects like the alignment we are proposing, an underground Valley Land route. A route that was never given the opportunity to be properly studied and debated by Council.
It is not our goal to point fingers or blame anyone at this point. All we are asking is that you spend 5 minutes from your busy day to have a look at our proposal.
It is our hope that some of you might see what we see in this proposal. A proposal that creates an exciting opportunity to plan and combine several infrastructure projects into one, potentially saving all levels of government tens of millions of tax dollars. (Riverwalk, Flood Plain, LRT, removal of Centennial Park garbage dump)
With the recent announcement of a University for Brampton, we feel that the underground valley land route deserves a second look. As Joe Pitushka, Commissioner, Public Works & Engineering stated at a Brampton Council meeting last year, the alternate LRT routes for Brampton only received a “cursory review” as the Province and Metrolinx were primarily focused on getting a seriously flawed Main Street alignment approved through our Downtown. A Main Street route alignment that was rejected by a vote of 10 -1 by our previous Council and 7-4 by our current Council.
We don’t want to see another missed opportunity for our City. A city that we believe has tremendous potential if we can get the cooperation from all levels of government and the understanding that Brampton has not received its fair share of infrastructure funding over the past decade to cope with our explosive growth. Brampton is Canada’s 9th largest city, Ontario’s 4th largest city and has seen the highest % growth of any major Canadian city since the last census. Our Downtown has the potential to become one of the most vibrant pedestrian and transit focused city centres in the 905 region.
It is our belief that an Underground Valley Land route has the potential to help achieve this goal.
We hope that you’ll agree!
Below are some images to help visualize the proposed route alignment.
Doug Bryden and Chris Bejnar
Citizen For a Better Brampton
Drawings are not to scale. Broken line represents tunnel portion. Solid line represents surface/elevated portion.
(4 LRT station stops at Brampton Mall, Peel Memorial, University, Downtown GO Mobility Hub)
CFBB Preferred LRT Route for Brampton (Pros & Cons)
City Council is about to debate the Terms of Reference for Environmental Assessments of two possible routes to move the LRT from Steeles to the GO Station in downtown Brampton. Those routes to be studied over the next three years are up Kennedy or up McLaughlin. New Brampton wants the discussion to include a McMurchy route. CFBB want to have an underground Valley Route considered as well, since it wasn’t properly debated and could very well be a compromise that all stakeholders can unite on.
The route involving Etobicoke Valley, one of the route options considered by the City earlier, was not thoroughly analysed on its own merits, but they focused their opinion on an at grade or above grade rail line, the outcry by neighbours, and the rather flippant response from the TRCA. Serious attention was not given to a below grade route under the park.
At the outset, we believe that of all the factors that need to be considered in route selection, ridership and increased assessment, particularly commercial, must be close or at the top of the list.
1) Earlier studies have revealed that LRT equipment, its maintenance, and its operation are not inexpensive, and shortfalls in fare generation will have to be covered by the taxpayer for a considerable time into the future.
2) To assist the City in covering operational and capital costs related to the LRT, new commercial assessment is absolutely essential, so route selection must be able to forecast potential new development opportunities that will be attractive to the development and risk community.
It is important to understand that LRT works best as a fast, efficient method of transportation from one point destination to another. It is not focused on rider convenience as a street car line would with multiple stops on route. Therefore, station locations for the LRT take on real significance and attraction for density concentration nodes, and these locations are fed by bus transit or adjacent parking areas. As well, locating stops at existing concentrations makes obvious sense not only for increased assessment possibilities, but to take advantage of ridership potential already in place.
Explained simply, the valley route envisages the following:
The proposed double rail LRT line would proceed from the Gateway at Steeles (north side) occupying the centre boulevard of Main Street and running north to Nanwood. At Nanwood, the line would enter a centre tunnel and veer to the east under Main Street to the park. It would proceed northeast through the park underground, not by tunneling, but by the less costly cut and cover process. At the north end of the park, it would tunnel (using a tunnel bore) under Centre Street at the CN Rail line and re-emerge in the centre of Centre Street at grade at a station beside the Peel Memorial Centre and future Health Sciences Hub.
From there, the line would turn to the west, run along the centre of Queen Street at grade and just before the Rail line bridge over Queen, gently rise on pylons veering to the northwest, and then follow the adjacent rail track, past the south side of the YWCA, and running over and above Main Street to the GO Station platform. Please refer to the attached images for clarification.
Advantages (PROS) of this route
- It’s a more direct and efficient route from the Steeles Gateway Terminal and considerably shorter in length than the McLaughlin or Kennedy routes. This could potentially save tens of millions of dollars.
- It will be 0.4 minutes faster to reach the Downtown GO than the original HMLRT. It will be several minutes faster than either the McLaughlin or Kennedy routes.
- It continues the centre boulevard right-of-way delineation from Mississauga
- Adjacent property acquisition to widen Main Street would in all likelihood not be necessary because of Main’s existing width from Steeles to Nanwood.
- It allows the Steeles LRT station to be located on the north side of Steeles rather than the south side, obviating the need the pedestrian tunnel under Steeles, and places the station adjacent to existing development and the planned redevelopment of Shopper’s World which is slated to include a significant number of residential units and related commercial assessment
- It could allow for a significant mixed-use re-development of the Brampton Mall, to move ahead at Nanwood. Crombie REIT, the owners of the Brampton Mall would be very excited to have both an LRT station and the flood risk from the Etobicoke Creek resolved. Both possible with this route alignment.
- By routing the LRT under the Park, shared use of the Park will not be negatively affected even during construction, and normal use by pedestrians, cyclists and recreation activities will see minimal impact. Enhancements to the existing tree canopy and active transportation infrastructure would be enhanced throughout the parkland after tunnel construction has been completed.
- The opportunity will be available to finally jump start the Riverwalk project and include potential remediation that will remove the flooding concern downtown and clean out the covered over garbage dump in Centennial Park by doing that work at the same time as the installation of the LRT tunnel.
- A thorough clean-up of the Etobicoke Creek (litter & debris) from north of Queen St. to south of the Brampton Mall would be initiated by the construction activity.
- By having a station adjacent to the Peel Memorial Centre, an ambulatory facility for day health activities, it will not only service Peel Memorial visitor and patient needs, but it will spur the development of related medical uses and new business, and increase ridership projections and assessment. This will enhance the chances to fulfill the Mayor’s Health Sciences Hub vision for this area.
- Should a decision be reached to place the new University in Rosalea Park, the LRT can provide a convenient station for the 4,000-5,000 students that are destined to be schooled there. The station would be located at the abandoned City of Brampton parking lot adjacent to Maple Ave. on the north side of Queen St.
- By creating the LRT station at the University, a second campus location could be considered for the Brampton Central Library. A simple pedestrian bridge over Queen St. E. could link this site to the main University campus and the Station.
- Brampton’s contribution for the University could now include the land at Rosalea Park and the Central Library to further strengthen our position for a world class Downtown campus.
- The LRT tracks will require some sub-standard property acquisition along Nelson St. E, opening up some real opportunities to redevelop commercially and help achieve the New Brampton vision for this part of our Downtown.
- The station for the LRT at the downtown GO will conveniently be accessed from the GO station and its potential major Hub Station multi-use redevelopment, that could include a hotel, residential condominiums, retail and parking facilities (underground or parking garage).
- As a second phase, the LRT line could extend along Queen St. E. to the Bramalea City Centre with a connection at Centre St. S. a straight forward proposition. It would resemble the “T” crossover just like the one staff has proposed for the Steeles and Hurontario intersection. Please refer to the Feb. 15, 2017 Recommendation Report – Hurontario LRT , Item 9.2.2-8 “Attachment B”
- As a third phase, the LRT tracks can be easily merged with the existing Orangeville-Brampton rail line running north, connecting north Brampton and Caledon to the LRT rail corridor and RER network. This corridor is already in place! LRT stations at Williams Pkwy, Bovaird Dr. W, Sandalwood Pkwy W, Mayfield Rd. and just north of the Hwy. 410 & 10 interchange in Caledon would now be possible
- Potential of combining planning and possibly construction for major infrastructure projects like the Etobicoke Creek Revitalization (Riverwalk) , Centennial Park garbage dump clean-up, eliminate the flood risk that has plagued our Downtown core for half a century, and create a more efficient and direct LRT route connecting the Downtown GO to the RER network. Millions of dollars could be saved with this methodology.
- The route does not contribute to gridlock and downtown traffic conflict, trying to share the narrow roads with multi vehicle users
- Nor is there any disastrous shut down of the downtown streets during LRT installation
- Nor is there any conflict with heritage structures with foundations that could not withstand the constant noise and vibration that adjacent tracks would inflict.
- Nor are there any safety issues like we would have with the original HMLRT proposal to run parallel with the sidewalks through our Downtown.
- Nor is there a sharing of the LRT lanes with cars like with the original HMLRT plan.
- Costly maintenance from salt application and snow plows or potential tree canopy conflicts along Main St. S with the original HMLRT proposal would be avoided with the underground parkland route.
- There would be no need to eliminate 2 car lanes from Main Street from north of Wellington St. W. to Church St. W. as was planned with the original HMLRT proposal. This would have resulted in traffic chaos throughout the Downtown core and would have created commuter frustration, especially during peak morning and evening rush hours.
- On-Street parking can remain on Main St. providing the retail merchants much needed access for their customers and delivery of supplies.
- With the underground parkland route by-passing the Downtown business core, the 2-3 year construction period that would be necessary would no longer be required. This presented a potential of economic hardship for many Downtown merchants.
Disadvantages (CONS) of the route
- The TRCA, the owners of the Etobicoke Creek, to date have not felt inclined to be part of the overall growth needs of Brampton and do not see themselves as a planning participant. Given all the urban areas around the world that have been more open to see innovative ways to be active positive participants in environmental planning strategies, the TRCA reluctance hopefully can be overcome with direct open negotiation or with Provincial government decision.
- Neighbourhood fear that results from lack of understanding, spirited by certain Councillors and their political agenda.
It’s hard not to see the merits of the Valley Route proposal in our opinion, and we would hope that it will be reconsidered by the Councillors at City Hall. Given recent changes in funding directives and possibilities coming from the Province, the acceptance of the two routes to be the subject of Environmental Assessments should be delayed and expanded to include the Valley Route.
CFBB- Citizens For a Better Brampton