> Don Valley Layover Facility LIVE - June 29, 2021 | Metrolinx Engage

Don Valley Layover Facility LIVE - June 29, 2021

Archive - June 29, 2021

On June 29, 2021, Metrolinx hosted a virtual town hall including a panel of Metrolinx experts. There were 131 user visitors to the event web page (equivalent to approximately 60 participants) during the event. During the two-hour town hall (time was extended in order to respond to additional questions), we answered as many questions as possible about the Don Valley Layover Facility. Participants voted on written questions and contributed live questions. Participants were particularly interested in hearing about: the choice of location in the Don Valley; the need/purpose of the facility; the accumulative impact of many projects in the area; loss of trees; size of the facility; noise from idling trains; and changing ridership.

In case you missed the event, you’ll find the answers in the video recording below. We also received additional questions during the virtual session and are committed to answering those as well. Answers will be posted at the bottom of this page.

 

 

Call-In With Your Question

As we continue to evolve the virtual engagement format, we are adding a call-in option for tonight’s event. To ask your question by voice, join the Zoom meeting here. We aim to keep each question and subsequent answer to 3 minutes allowing for as many call-in questions as possible.

NOTE: please ensure you have the latest version of Zoom installed.

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Agenda

6:00PM - 6:30PM: Project Update

6:30PM - 7:00PM: Questions and Answers to Pre-Submitted Questions

7:00PM - 7:30PM: Call-in Questions

Meet the Speakers

Trevor Anderson

Trevor Anderson

Union Station Early Works Program Sponsor

Mirjana Osojnicki

Mirjana Osojnicki

Manager, Environmental Programs & Assessment

Photo of David Phalp

David Phalp

Senior Manager, Community Engagement

Photo of John Potter

John Potter

Manager, Design Standards, Architecture & Urban Design

Format & Accessibility

Questions will be answered based on popularity (total votes). We aim to answer all questions.

Please review and note that conduct inconsistent with our policies will result in removal.

To enable closed captioning, toggle captions “on” in the YouTube video player settings.

 

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Comments

Anonymous's avatar

Pls list the alternate sites Metrolinx has considered for this layover and why they were deemed unsuitable

Anonymous's avatar

Can we review the report(s) to enhance public input ?

Anonymous's avatar

We deal with noise from the DVP every night and having a layover site for trains will only add to the impact on residents. Please consider an alternate site where your trains will have less impact.

Anonymous's avatar

If COVID 19 has taught us anything, it is the need to value, protect and increase our outdoor green spaces; not pave them for train layovers. Visits to green areas during the pandemic have gained salience locally, nationally and globally from multiple perspectives: health, planning, social justice, and equity. The Don Valley Park is a well-loved and extremely well-used green space that connects our city. Metrolinx’s aim to add an industrial facility in the Valley flies in the face of billions of dollars of ravine restoration, storm water cleanup and flood/climate change mitigation. Community groups propose an alternative use of the location. Smart cities - future cities - around the world see the value of old rail lines and bridges as linear connecting parks such as Vancouver’s Arbutus Line, New York’s Highline, the Coulee verte Rene-Dumont in Paris, and the Green Corridor in Singapore. In Toronto’s case, the old CP Don Branch, starting in the north at Redway Loblaws off of Millwood Avenue and ending in the south across from Riverdale Park, should be a connecting Wonscotonach Rail Trail linking the 11,000-year-old First Nations Trail that crosses the city east/west; the 4,000-year-old Withrow archeological site; the Group of Seven’s Studio, a National historic site in the Rosedale Valley Ravine ● Riverdale Farm (barn from 1858); Evergreen Brickworks (1889); Todmorden Mills (1790). Metrolinx! Get with the 21st Century! Your legacy will be one of destruction and industrialization of the beautiful Don Valley Park.

Anonymous's avatar

What is the value of a regional transit agency building facilities in locations not serviced by transit? Meaning workers will be required to drive or be driven to location.

Anonymous's avatar

There are many industrial areas in Toronto to choose from for this Layover so why choose parkland below and north of the Viaduct Bridge? Metrolinx impact on the Don Valley Park

Anonymous's avatar

We need more park space not less. What does a layover yard do to enhance the quality of life for us. I see it might be nice for who use the GO train but most downtown residents do not use it. Look for other options. It always seems convenient and a no cost option to confiscate parkland (such as the DVP). Have we leaned nothing in 60 years? Will Metrolinx be building another park of comparable size in the downtown area to replace what they plan to take?

Anonymous's avatar

As well as threats to the environment resulting from the Metrolinx Don Valley layover plan, Metrolinx and the province should also consider:

1) Indigenous Heritage Sites: Further industrialization of the Don Valley Park will block access to pre- and post- colonial historic sites including significant Indigenous heritage sites. Consultation with Indigenous communities regarding the industrialization of the unceded Don Valley Park lands should be an imperative (and not simply rely on the one Indigenous representative employed by Metrolinx).

2) Social Justice and Equity: Any incursion of additional industrial infrastructure in the Don Valley Park is a social justice and equity issue.
Further industrialization of the Don Valley Park will erode access to environmentally safe green space in the city. The Covid pandemic has reminded us of the extraordinary and ongoing need for more user-friendly accessible green space, especially forthose who do not have ready access to a backyard, local park, playground or cottage.

3) Tourism: Supporting the continued development of the beautiful Don Valley Park system in ways that protect the natural environment and habitat, specifically the Wonscotonach Rail Trail, makes good business sense for all regions and wards of the GTA. Revenue generated by tourism to such an attraction could be a major boost to the economy of the city. The Highline in New York City has been assessed as generating hundreds of millions of tourism dollars annually to NYC.

Anonymous's avatar

Why not move the layover to the Brownfield sites near Keating Channel? The location is right by the Go tracks. Or is Metrolinx and the province more interested in the wants of developers as opposed to the needs of the citizens - and especially children - of Toronto and beyond?

Don't Valley Layover's avatar
Jun 27, 2021 - 23:20

Metrolinx is making a big deal about providing all day two way service instead of being a commuter service. If that's the case the trains should be going back and forth instead of parked downtown. Which is it - commuter service or all day two way?

Anonymous's avatar

Has Metrolinx already decided this is where the layover is going be placed? Apparently these plans have been in process for a while and no atempt has been made to consult with the community until now. Putting an announcement on your website is not good enough notice.

Don't Valley Layover's avatar
Jun 27, 2021 - 17:54

When will Metrolinx provide new ridership forecasts for GO Expansion to justify this level of public spending and this particular facility? The Full Business Case for GO Expansion (which includes Don Valley Layover) is based on old data. The pandemic has devastated Metrolinx's data, ridership is down to 9% of what it was. Cost per rider is $300 - the subsidy is $141 *per rider*. Where are the numbers that show when ridership demand will be back at 2019 levels - and *then* when is there expected growth that will require the building facilities?

Don't Valley Layover's avatar
Jun 27, 2021 - 21:25

The postcard invite to this town hall suggested that this Layover was being built to improve service to this community. Specifically how does it achieve a benefit for the people that live within a mile radius of it?

Anonymous's avatar
Jun 27, 2021 - 22:52

The Don Valley has, due to great effort, become a wonderful public park, increasingly used by citizens. Why mar it with parked locomotives? Why not use an industrial property that is not used in this way by the public?

Don't Valley Layover's avatar
Jun 28, 2021 - 15:45

Rail access to the site is in the Flood plain. The rails sit on the "wet side" of the new Corktown berm. Past flooding resulted in rescue workers having to evacuate a Metrolinx train. Those rails site at the same height as the bridge across the Don River that provides access to the proposed facility.
Obviously that means Metrolinx has a backup location if there is a flood preventing trains from getting into the Layover and it also means that Metrolinx won't park trains there if there is a risk of them being stranded. Currently flooding will only affect the Richmond Hill line but with facilities on both sides of the Don developed as a layover that means the whole grid is at risk if the Don Valley floods.
So where is this alternative location? Why not build all the layover facilities there?

Anonymous's avatar

Specifically the area here: https://www.google.com/maps/@43.6513448,-79.3519926,345m/data=!3m1!1e3 to the south and east. There are often gravel hoppers stored there now so it's clearly already railway lands, and even shifting the multi-use trail south seems like it could be feasible (it would also make the trail more direct) to unlock even more land. Since this would be an expansion of an existing facility and closer to Union Station as well, would it not save substantial time and money?

Anonymous's avatar

As far as I am aware, it would be extremely poor construction practice to build on top of oil or gas pipelines. With 3 high pressure oil pipelines, 2 natural gas pipelines, fiberoptic and other telecommunication lines, City of Toronto storm water connections running through the site, how will all this be relocated without major trenching and refilling causing additional major disruption and damage to the restored ravine parkland?

Anonymous's avatar

What is the Metrolinx plan regarding the following request from the City of Toronto?

City of Toronto has requested information on Impact of the Facility
City Council adopted the following motion regarding Metrolinx's proposed Don Valley
Train Layover Facility at its meeting on Sept 30, Oct 1 and 2, 2020:
EX16.4: Metrolinx-City of Toronto Master Agreement for the GO Expansion Program
10. City Council direct the City Manager and the Executive Director, Transit
Expansion Office to advise Metrolinx that the City strongly recommends that
Metrolinx undertake a study, in consultation with the City, General Manager of Parks,
Forestry and Recreation, and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority which
considers the possible impacts of this proposed facility on the Don Valley Park, and
the implications for the City's Ravine Strategy, and a full range of alternative solutions
and locations for the Don Valley Layover Facility Metrolinx is proposing as a part of
its GO Expansion project.
My impression is that Metrolinx has shown no inclination to undertake such an assessment. If so, could you explain the reason for this?

Anonymous's avatar
Jun 28, 2021 - 17:21

If we take climate change concerns seriously, we have to make important tradeoffs. Maybe efficiency is one of them. I am wondering what the down side is to not doing this at all, if a better site cannot be found.

Anonymous's avatar
Jun 27, 2021 - 13:45

Access to Go trains is fairly easy for downtown dwellers (access through Yonge AND Bloor-Danforth lines). And many people who cannot leave the city enjoy the parks along the DVP. Please, indicate why this polluting scheme (Diesel) that will impact green areas vibrant with wildlife needs to take precedence over protection of green spaces and enjoyment of them by the public.

Anonymous's avatar

I assume that Metrolinx facilities have strict safety and environmental protocols. So any spill or release of any MSDS-regulated chemical or fluid would be documented. Are these records viewable by the public?
It is understood fuel and cleaning fluids will be transferred at the site. What are the chances that spills could happen at the proposed facility, and what is the scope of possible dangers to the environment?

Anonymous's avatar
Jun 29, 2021 - 17:03

The City of Toronto continues to recognize the value of our unique, vital ravine greenspace by investing $82 million in our ravine system. The federal govt recognizes the health benefits along with cultural and natural heritage with an additional $20million. Why does Metrolinx and the province stand alone in believing that the reintroduction of industrial operations into accessible ravine parkland makes any sense? Toronto's ravines support our city's biodiversity and provide us with a place to enjoy nature throughout our city. Our federal government is supporting our city's Ravine Strategy with an investment of $20 Million to ensure that this unique part of our city remains healthy, safe and accessible. It is also important to have all orders of government talking about how we can work together to protect our ravines and assess the cumulative impacts of the many projects and works that happen within them. Talk with us Metrolinx....not at us

Anonymous's avatar
Jun 29, 2021 - 17:50

In the last public, virtual meeting (which Metrolinx did not promote and actually kept very quiet to silent on), Councillor Fletcher asked pointed questions about not only this project but others happening in the Don Valley, Metrolinx related or not. It seemed a federal review of this project and others should be necessary. Is a federal review going to take place before Metrolinx goes ahead with this ill-chosen site in the Don Valley?

Anonymous's avatar

Many migratory birds and warblers depend on the Don Valley. I am fearful that this construction will only lead to more and more development in this critical and sensitive area.

Anonymous's avatar

Somebody else in this Qs line up mentions how Covid 19 manifested urbanites need of green spaces and not just "any" green spaces.

We need nature every day where we can experience glimpses of wildlife calling it home and being surrounded by a disorderly irreplaceable chaos of natural settings to remain healthy and sane. Doctors in Ontario now can prescribe a dose of nature for a wide range of health problems, including mental health.

The Province asked municipalities to determine natural areas for future ESAs and after a stringent process this culminated in 2014 Provincial Policy Statement. In TO, since May 2016, this process was adopted in City OP by OPA 262. The Environmentally Significant Areas were mapped & studied. All decisions regarding these areas must conform to the Provincial Policy Statement and the Planning Act.

There is no evidence at this point, that any specific Studies were done to determine impacts from the Layover Facility on adjacent ESA. Such Study must demonstrate no negative impacts on the ESA's natural heritage features and ecological function.

TRCA has done their evaluation on flooding dangers but they have not conducted a proper Environmental Impact Study on impacts resulting from the Layover Facility construction, after construction, cumulative from all other projects nearby, impacts over time and space.

TRCA was neither participating in making decision on location of the Don Valley's Layover Facility or any alternatives.

It seems that Metrolinx is not operating here along protection legal frame afforded to the ESAs by provincial land use planning in Ontario requiring a high level of conformity to protect/conserve these special natural areas for the long term and future generations.

"Nature therapy' program offered as new medical prescription to Canadians "A different sort of medical prescription is spreading across Canada, that of “nature therapy” where doctors, nurses and other health-care practitioners can prescribe going outdoors as part of a wellness routine."
https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/nature-therapy-program-offered-as-new-medi...

"Take two hikes and call me in the morning "To get the benefits of nature, you don't need to be in old-growth forest. There is research showing that what matters is that you feel you’ve had a meaningful experience with nature,” says Dr. Melissa Lem"
https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/12/07/canada-nature-prescription-p...

Anonymous's avatar

The existing access road used to service the Hydro 1 substation is extremely degraded and would need to be replaced. It also does not extend past the substation. This construction is above and beyond the 'needs minor repair' that has been stated by Metrolinx. At present this lightly used road does not impact the adjacent Helliwell's Hill Wetland and adjacent meadow. As this is an extremely important and active wildlife habitat and migration route, that construction and operation of an industrial diesel train facility will surely impact, why have you not chosen a site that is less environmentally destructive?

Anonymous's avatar

The community DO NOT WANT this project

Anonymous's avatar

It is an industrial area and looks like it has lots of space around the tracks, road access. , no trees to cut down.

Anonymous's avatar

Probably the single most destructive element of the entire project and there is almost no information on the TRACKSIDE SERVICE road. At a minimum 4.27 metres wide it has to be constructed on flat ground stable enough to support emergency vehicles such as a TFD firetruck. There is a severe slope and virtually no flat ground alongside the existing track for the service road to be built. Retaining walls will be required for almost the entire length of layover track with a major loss (1,100) of the tree canopy of 60 year old trees and the important wildlife habitat they support Metrolinx information states that just 367 metres of retaining wall will be required for the two turn arounds and the facility infrastructure, but we are now at an additional 1.5km of major retaining wall construction just for the TRACKSIDE service road... half of which will be constructed through an established and protected Environmental Sensitive Area and half directly adjoining the Helliwell's Hill Wetland and Meadow. How does Metrolinx justify this intrusion into accessible ravine parkland when there are more suitable locations available that meet your staled needs?

Anonymous's avatar

Please detail each alternate site and state reasons Metrolinx has turned them down

Anonymous's avatar

the Don is one of the lungs of the city.....the unused CPR line and 1/2 mile bridge would serve the city of Toronto better than a Storage facility that serves people outside of the city (GO trains)

Anonymous's avatar
Jun 29, 2021 - 15:01

Both municipal and provincial regulations prohibit this type of construction and industrial use in an Environmentally Sensitive Area or within 120' of area that is so designated. When there are locations available without this designation, why damage an area we should be protecting for future generations?

Anonymous's avatar
Jun 29, 2021 - 15:21

Why does Metrolinx consider this the most appropriate site? What other sites were considered? Perhaps we could get a list of those sites and review the criteria by which those sites were deemed less desirable.

Anonymous's avatar
Jun 29, 2021 - 18:17

store the trains in Richmond Hill, and have them brought down in the afternoon for evening service.

Anonymous's avatar

What improvements are needed to the section of the Don branch between the layover site and the rest of the network? Will there be significant construction or refurbishment of the line, including the bridge?

Anonymous's avatar

Will the design be modified (e.g. through building a retaining wall to minimize the area of destruction below the facility)?
Please don't tell us you care only about the construction cost.

Anonymous's avatar

Are there any scenarios in which this currently unused line would be put in operation?

Anonymous's avatar

To be stored and where? Is this just a foot in the door strategy for more later?

Anonymous's avatar
Jun 29, 2021 - 17:14

We understand that each individual project has its own Environmental Assessment completed by their contractors. With Metrolinx responsible for four of the six simultaneous infrastructure projects within the lower reaches of the Don Valley from the Mouth of the Don to Science Centre, what protocols, studies or assessments have been completed to look at the cumulative impact of all six on our unique and biodiverse urban river valley? Wouldn't this be prudent investment before moving forward?

Anonymous's avatar

You know that citizen's will not want this in a park. Why even propose this?

Anonymous's avatar

after, it seems, that all the decisions have already been finalized. Metrolinx has decided to place this facility in the Don Valley, and the community has no say. This is not consultation. This is a public relations sham.

Anonymous's avatar

call to action #92) Corporate Canada to adopt UNDRIP and i) Commit to meaningful consultation, building respectful relationships, and obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous peoples before proceeding with economic development projects......

Anonymous's avatar
Jun 29, 2021 - 19:22

does that mean doubling the track through the valley?

Anonymous's avatar

Anonymous
Jun 29, 2021 - 19:16

the King streetcar carries more riders that the busiest GO line....

Anonymous's avatar

Metrolinx unfortunately takes a no-frills approach to design. I'm suggesting a detailed and landscaped fence, more trees to cover views of the layover, public art, trail improvements, and attractive lighting (not utilitarian).

Anonymous's avatar

Your plans talk of "Screened enclosures to minimize visual impacts" but there is no mention of the view from above.
The site is part of the valley vista from many points ABOVE the valley, most notably from the Viaduct.
If you are determined to build this wouldn't covering the facility and tracks entirely with a green roof fully minimize the visual impact? Has this been considered?

Anonymous's avatar

People have been working for decades to bring back The Don. The have donated time and money, as have previous governments. Surely there are other sites for a Diesel engine to be stored!

Anonymous's avatar

How high is the building that will be beside the trail, measured from the trail grade level?

Anonymous's avatar

You have now stated that this parkland is being destroyed to save 10 minutes on a trip for a user. This is the essential reason for this construction, is that correct?

Anonymous's avatar

My mother-in-law who lives near the planned Corktown station received a written notice about a meeting in her area for this station we have never relieved any written notice about these meetings.

Anonymous's avatar
Jun 29, 2021 - 19:03

who says that night time maintenance won't be done? once this is built you won't have a choice.

Anonymous's avatar

leave rail corridor avaiable to Peterborough for future & construct layover at Don yard