TTC rethinks Danforth subway exits

July 12, 2010

Joanne Wong–ttc-rethinks-danforth-subway-exits

Stung by criticism over a proposal to expropriate properties to build second exits for two Danforth subway stations, the TTC has unveiled plans that would allow people to keep their homes.

The new plan for Greenwood involves building an underground walkway from the subway platform to a Linnsmore Cres. property which is currently vacant. As a result, a home on Strathmore Blvd. would not have to be demolished and no one displaced.

The plan was greeted by enthusiastic applause by residents attending a public meeting Monday night, although several voiced concern that the TTC is simply putting on a show for the community and will revert to its original plan, which remains on the table.

“We should’ve asked for more public input and we apologize for that,” Susan Reed Tanaka, TTC manager of engineering, told the meeting at Danforth Collegiate and Technical Institute.

The original proposal for constructing second exits for the Greenwood and Donlands stations for fire safety has been criticized since it was unveiled June 29 because it involved expropriating homes.

Steve Martin, a spokesman from the Greenwood community, said he was “pleased to see that the TTC has taken our suggestion and done something with it.”

Reed Tanaka said the new plan for the Donlands station involves moving the original second exit west to Dewhurst Blvd. No private property will be required, though the city must first approve of the road narrowing.

This option was not as popular among residents. Lisa Dymond, a representative of the Strathmore Donlands Action Group, said it was “not acceptable to our community” because it will allow TTC riders to exit into “the heart” of a residential neighbourhood.

Dymond said it will also increase the amount of idling “on streets where our children play” by cars waiting to pick up passengers.

She requested the second exit either be on Danforth Ave. or be an emergency exit only. She said the TTC has not given the public enough time to contribute to the project’s design and urged the proposal be rejected at the TTC meeting on Wednesday.

“We are dealing with a broken process,” Dymond said.

TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said public input will be considered at the meeting, though the revised plans proposed by Reed Tanaka will be recommended to the board.

Earlier Monday, mayoral candidate George Smitherman spoke in front of the Strathmore Ave. home where Danny and Grace Calia have lived for 51 years. The couple’s home had been targeted for expropriation and demolition under the original plan for the Greenwood exit.

Smitherman said the TTC may do many things well but consulting with the public on upcoming projects isn’t one of them.


3 thoughts on “TTC rethinks Danforth subway exits

  1. votejohnrichardson Post author

    This also made the Toronto Sun:


    Residents upset about planned subway exits

    By IAN ROBERTSON, Toronto Sun

    Last Updated: July 12, 2010 9:34pm

    Residents sweltering in a high school auditorium Monday night gave TTC staff a mostly hot reception over controversial plans to construct second exits at two Danforth line subway stations.

    One man loudly objected to the two-hour meeting “in a hotbox,” during which residents were permitted to speak “only two-to-three minutes.”

    Residents in the Coxwell-Greenwood Aves. area are upset with the TTC’s plan for the expropriation of houses so second exits can be built from the platforms at the Donlands and Greenwood subway stations.

    Bruna Anabile said her parents have had “many sleepless nights” awaiting word on whether their Strathmore Ave. home will be expropriated by the city and demolished for an exit.

    “This is the only house in Canada my parents have had for 51 years,” she said.

    Amabile told The Sun a former abandoned “eyesore” house being rebuilt on neighbouring Linsmore Cresc. is now being considered, but her parents were warned their house is still “the fallback” location.

    “The TTC should have new management,” said another resident.

    Several people called for independent engineers instead of using TTC employees.

    No guarantees were made about what appeared to be site decisions, but Toronto Transit engineering manager Susan Reidd-Tanaka was applauded after saying several alternative sites will be considered.

    “I’m very pleased to see the TTC has listened to some of our suggestions and has considered them,” community spokesman Steve Martin told about 225 people at Danforth Technical Institute.

    TTC Chairman Adam Giambrone promised protocols and “better” future communication.

    There are 14 stations requiring expansion of exits.

    “I’m pleased,” resident Steve Martin said about considering a new Greenwood station exit on the site of a “rundown” building that poses a crime threat instead of expropriating a house, as originally proposed.

    Greenwood and Coxwell residents became angry after notices arrived 12 days before a June 29 “community information meeting” about new exits — when they learned the TTC was poised to finalize decisions at Wednesday’s commission meeting.

    They were particularly critical after learning that the need for second exits, based on fire and safety issues, was known since 2002.

    Community leader Lisa Dymond insisted the alternatives will be “equally destructive.”

    Dymond said residents were ignored after taking the TTC up on its offer of more consultations and submitted alternatives, using a professional planner and a civil engineer.

    Only emergency exits should be placed among houses, to avoid excessive pedestrian and car traffic, Dymond said.

    Earlier in the day, mayoral candidate George Smitherman called the TTC’s actions “intolerable.”

  2. votejohnrichardson Post author

    And the National Post:


    TTC bends on taking properties
    Lisa Dymond said the new plans neglect the primary concern: a TTC building dropped in the middle of a residential area.

    Tyler Anderson, National Post

    Lisa Dymond said the new plans neglect the primary concern: a TTC building dropped in the middle of a residential area.

    Natalie Alcoba, National Post; with files from Ashley Csanady · Tuesday, Jul. 13, 2010

    The Toronto Transit Commission is backing away from a proposal to expropriate four houses in order to build secondary subway exits, as an uproar over how the TTC consults with residents caught the attention of mayoral candidates.

    Homeowners near Greenwood and Donlands stations learned through a letter last month that their area was headed for major upheaval as the TTC moved ahead with a project, eight years in the making, to install second egresses at 14 stations.

    The TTC says it needs the exits to help in emergency evacuations, but would keep them open for daily use.

    Outraged that this was the first they were hearing of plans to dig a pit under their front lawns, or take their property, residents on Strathmore Boulevard grouped, held meetings with TTC officials and presented alternatives.

    The results are two new options, according to chairman Adam Giambrone, that do not involve taking houses.

    “There is still going to be impact on people,” Mr. Giambrone pointed out, notably that the city will have to dig a longer tunnel, and impose temporary easements for construction, but he said “the total taking of houses would not be necessary.”

    The new exits are estimated to cost about $3.5-million to $4-million more, he said, than the $16-million price tag for both stations.

    Mr. Giambrone suggested it is proof that the commission is listening. Some residents say it’s anything but.

    Lisa Dymond said the new plans neglect the primary concern: that a large TTC building, with daily use, will be dropped in the middle of a residential neighbourhood. Shifting the Donlands exit 10 metres west does not mitigate the impact on sight lines, mature trees, traffic flow, safety, or real estate value, Ms. Dymond argues. Residents have proposed moving it to the Danforth, or to a parking lot. In the case of Greenwood, the proposed secondary entrance moves from the middle of a residential block to across from the current station.

    Ms. Dymond was among a group of more than 100 community members who attended a public consultation at Danforth Collegiate Institute last night. The crowd cheered as she outlined concerns the public had not been consulted early enough. Residents near Greenwood station, meanwhile, were pleased with the TTC’s new plan to destroy a single home they described as an “eyesore” and a “danger” due to its poor upkeep and alleged drug activity.

    “In my point of view, it’s a much better option,” said Steve Martin, the representative for Greenwood residents. “We’re getting to a place where everyone can be very happy.”

    Mr. Giambrone, who attended the meeting, apologized to homeowners for how they were informed of property that had been slated for expropriation. Earlier in the day, mayoral candidates called the process unacceptable.

    George Smitherman said the TTC “has an obligation” to craft initiatives in consultation with local residents, “not jamming projects forward.”

    “You can imagine the circumstances of arriving to a public meeting to see a diagram of a place where your house once stood, now emerging as an exit for a TTC station, here in the middle of what is obviously a neighbourhood and suburban block,” said Mr. Smitherman, on the lawn of one of the properties facing expropriation. Jane Pitfield, a former city councillor running in Toronto Danforth, joined him.

    Rocco Rossi asked “how do we know other ways to achieve the necessary goal of secondary exits haven’t been thoroughly investigated?”

    Sarah Thomson said residents should have been made a part of the planning process from the start.

    Rob Ford took issue with “ballooning” costs despite “little or no consultation,” while Joe Pantalone said there is still time to reach a decision that everyone can live with.

    Read more:

  3. votejohnrichardson Post author

    And the Globe:


    TTC unveils its exits strategy

    Commission to spend $3.4-million more than planned for subway exits to save four homes in East York

    Kelly Grant

    Toronto — From Tuesday’s Globe and Mail Published on Monday, Jul. 12, 2010 11:01PM EDT Last updated on Tuesday, Jul. 13, 2010 3:52AM EDT

    The Toronto Transit Commission is prepared to spend as much $3.4-million more than planned on new subway exits to save four homes in East York, where a campaign against the expropriations has picked up steam and the support of some mayoral candidates.

    TTC staff have unveiled a compromise that would spare houses at 1, 3, 245 and 247 Strathmore Boulevard, one block north of Danforth Avenue.

    “Yes, there is a premium. Money is tight at TTC,” Chief General Manager Gary Webster said in an interview. “This may cause us to delay the projects slightly to stay within our cash flow. But we think if we’re going to do it we should do it properly and I think it’s important to listen to the neighbourhood.”

    Homeowners on Strathmore say the TTC blindsided them with a mid-June form letter describing its plans to bulldoze the homes and encroach on more than 10 other properties during the construction of new exits from Donlands and Greenwood stations, which currently offer the only way out.

    The transit agency’s proposed solution at Greenwood station seemed to satisfy the approximately 300 residents who attended a heated public meeting Monday night – it was met with enthusiastic applause. But a spokeswoman for homeowners near Donlands station roundly rejected the TTC’s compromise there, even though it would save two homes.

    “It’s exactly the same thing, 10 metres to the west,” Lisa Dymond, who lives at 7 Strathmore, told the crowd.

    At the Greenwood site, the TTC had originally planned to punch a new exit through the lots where 245 and 247 Strathmore stand now, at a cost of $7.5-million, excluding expropriation costs.

    That proposal was especially upsetting to the elderly Italian couple who have lived at 247 Strathmore for more than five decades.

    “I don’t want to leave,” said Grace Calia, 72, who shares the house with husband Danny, 77, a retired TTC maintenance worker. “I’m 51 years at my house, okay? I grow all my five kids, eight grandkids. It’s all my life.”

    Now the agency is suggesting routing the exit through 9 Linsmore Ave., which is owned but vacant, at an extra $2.5-million in construction costs.

    “I feel much better,” Ms. Calia said after hearing the news. But she and her daughter, Isa Politano, still had reservations about whether the TTC could pull off the new plan. Staff will ask the TTC’s board of councillors to approve both the new and old options for Greenwood and Donlands at a Wednesday meeting, in case the hastily pulled-together alternatives prove unfeasible.

    The same spirit of cautious optimism did not greet the TTC’s proposal on the Donlands side. The agency originally planned to bulldoze homes at 1 and 3 Strathmore to make way for the exits, but is now proposing an exit on the north curb lane of Dewhurst, a north-south street, that would increase costs by $900,000 to $8.5-million from $7.6-million.

    Ms. Dymond told the crowd she opposed the plan because it still didn’t satisfy the requests of the community: That the exit be relocated to Danforth Avenue, or turned into an emergency exit only.

    She also argued the TTC didn’t need to push the plan through at its Wednesday meeting, so soon after residents first heard of it. She pointed out that the TTC first identified in 2002 that 14 stations needed a second exit for fire safety reasons.

    “When I hear the TTC say it’s a safety issue and we have to push it through on an aggressive timeline – this doesn’t look like an aggressive timeline to me,” Ms. Dymond told the audience.

    Inside out

    * Donlands and Greenwood stations are two of the 14 stops where the TTC has added, or is about to add, a second exit to fix problems identified in a 2002 fire and safety assessment. Only one other project – the Woodbine second exit – requires the TTC to acquire property, in this case a garage. The transit agency may need easements to dig on properties near some of the other stations.


    * Broadview: The station’s second exit was finished in 2008, but flooding and water leaks have forced the TTC to close it temporarily.

    Under way

    * Castle Frank’s second exit, which is nearly finished, is six months behind schedule. Construction is under way on new exits at Pape and Dufferin.


    * Second exits are coming to Woodbine, Chester, Summerhill, College, Museum, Wellesley, Dundas and Dundas West. All but Woodbine, Chester and Summerhill will also serve as automatic entrances.


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