> Small's Creek LIVE - September 29, 2021 | Metrolinx Engage

Small's Creek LIVE - September 29, 2021

Join us LIVE to learn more about GO Expansion and Small’s Creek Ravine – September 29, 2021

On Wednesday, September 29 Metrolinx will be hosting a virtual open house from 5:30PM to 7:00PM to provide the community with construction details on widening the GO rail corridor in the Small’s Creek area.

Representatives from the Metrolinx project team will provide a brief presentation and answer your questions. Our virtual platform will allow you to vote on the questions you’d most like answered, and the order our experts take them in will be based on popularity (total votes).

We encourage you to submit and vote on questions now. You may also submit questions during the meeting. 

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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

5:30PM - 6:10PM: Presentation

6:10PM - 7:00PM: Questions and Answers

Meet the Speakers


Stephanie Davies

Executive Vice President, GO Expansion


Shelley Persaud

Early Works Sponsor, GO Regional Express Rail


Susan Walsh

Director, Community Engagement, GO Expansion


Siricius Augustin

Senior Manager, GO Expansion Early Works


David Phalph

Senior Manager, Community Engagement, GO Expansion


Emmanuel Essien

Project Manager, GO Expansion Early Works


Leila Sotoudeh

Manager, Environmental Programs and Assessments


Gretel Green

Manager, Environmental Programs and Assessments


Michael Graham

Project Engineer, Transportation and Logistics, Hatch


Beth Williston

Associate Director, Infrastructure Planning and Permits, TRCA


Alannah Slattery

Planner, Infrastructure Planning and Permits, TRCA


Sharon Lingertat

Senior Manager, TRCA

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.

 

Questions and Answers

How do you decide when a tree is an invasive species?

Invasive species are plants, animals, and micro-organisms that are found outside of their natural range, and whose presence poses a threat to environmental health, the economy, or society. Southern Ontario’s native plants evolved together with indigenous wildlife, adapting to local climate and soil conditions to create stable natural communities. Invasive plants come from outside this geographic area. Invasive plants are a concern because they form such dense colonies or compete so aggressively, that they force out native vegetation. Invasive plants out-compete native species because they have High annual seed production or are able to spread by underground roots and re-grow quickly when disturbed by pulling, cutting or fire and they usually lack of natural predators to keep their population under control. Fewer native plants results in decreased biodiversity. This can mean less food and shelter for wildlife dependent on native plants. This results in a ripple effect that threatens whole ecosystems and has economic and social implications as well. In 2015, the Ontario provincial government introduced the Invasive Species Act (2015), which explicitly regulates the prevention and management of invasive species and provides categories. For example, Norway Maple is prevalent in Small’s Creek and Williamson Ravine, and is a Category 1 invasive species. This category excludes all other species meaning it dominates sites indefinitely.

Previous work used equipment that was so loud that it made people’s ears ring, even though “silenced” versions of this equipment exists you chose not to use it. Will you be using silenced versions of all equipment from now on?

While construction means and methods are afforded to the contractor, Metrolinx requires noise and vibration monitoring for construction activities and has prescribed construction noise limits. In the event of a noise exceedance, Metrolinx will investigate the cause and when appropriate request the contractor to adopt additional noise mitigation measures or adjust their methods. Mitigation measures can lead to slower or more complex construction, which means work may take longer. Unfortunately, many silenced equipment lacks the ability required to preform the large-scale construction required for these works.

Will the boardwalk be rebuilt?

While a portion of the stairways and dirt path will be closed for construction, Metrolinx has committed to the community to restore the existing connections as part of the revitalization stage. The existing nature trail on the north side of the rail corridor, next to the creek will be impacted during the culvert construction, but this pedestrian path will be restored in some capacity after construction. While the boardwalks may be closed for some of the construction for safety reasons, they will remain in place, with no need to rebuild. Metrolinx is committed to working with City and TRCA to explore the communities desire to improve the connection.

Instead of the chain link fence on top of the retaining wall, is there a more ravine friendly barrier such as a living wall with sound attenuation?

Metrolinx has added a dense shrub planting to the project scope along the constructed slope to provide a living screening.

Why not build on the south side?

Metrolinx has conducted a review of the Lakeshore East Corridor and determined that an expansion on the north side of the corridor was more feasible and would have less community impact. The southern portion of the track would require more expropriation. Further, sections on and off corridor have been future-proofed for an expansion on the north side, including connections to Uxbridge GO Trail line.

How will you make sure that the designated ecological function of Williamson's Ravine, ESA, - seepage and wetland communities, are protected for the long term?

The wetlands in this area are fed by both groundwater and surface water flows. The groundwater seepage is dependent on water balance of the surrounding area ensuring infiltration does not decrease. The culvert elevation was reviewed by TRCA and the hydrological function of the wetland would have been assessed as part of the crossing design to ensure during low flow current water levels are maintained.

Can you please confirm if there are tiebacks being used in the construction of the retaining wall at Greenwood area just west of Small’s Creek?

No, tiebacks will not be used in that segment.

Could you please share the vision of the overall final plan that includes the derailment barriers and acoustic walls. How do the derailment barriers and acoustic barriers integrate into the Small’s Creek retaining wall?

As noise walls are not included in the current early works project, Metrolinx does not have further information to share at this time. As we approach future projects, including laying the fourth track and electrification, further details will be available to share with the community.

What is the maximum decibel level that will be permitted during nighttime work? We say a slide that spoke to decibels but do the contractors need to abide by a noise limit. The city has noise bylaws. How can the decibels be measured?

While Metrolinx contractors determine the means and methods of construction, Metrolinx requires their crews to install noise and vibration monitors and has long-term and maximum noise limitations. In cases of exceedance, Metrolinx investigates the cause and can request the contractor to implement additional mitigation measures when appropriate.

If you were not putting in a fourth line would you be replacing the culvert? It has reportedly been in a state of disrepair for a very long time.

The current culvert has collapsed, is blocked, and does not provide proper drainage leading to potential flooding in the area during heavy storms or snow melt. The culvert needs to be replaced, regardless of the need for the fourth rail.

Rehabilitation of the culvert is critical for its structural integrity and is an opportunity for improvements to the flood flow and natural environment in the area. The work is in accordance with TRCA policies to mitigate risk associated with flooding as well as with the City of Toronto’s Wet Weather Flow Guidelines.

The new culvert will be immediately adjacent to the location of the current culvert. Once complete, the new culvert will improve drainage and reduce potential for flooding, as well as protect the slope from erosion. The replaced culvert will also provide connectivity for amphibians and small mammals. The old culvert will be filled with grout and capped for safety.

Where was the flyer in the mailboxes of all residents within 2 kms of the ravines?

Metrolinx requires their contractor to distribute notices to the surrounding community in advance of any work, which specifies the work duration and hours, types of work, mitigation efforts and Metrolinx contact details. Notices will be delivered for the first phase of work shortly.

Protection policies, PPS, respectively, were created to with having "growth" in mind, to ensure most valuable natural areas and water features, such as wetlands or seepage, remain over the long term. It was also meant to protect where density is the highest. such as is situation here with the Small's Creek. If in Copenhagen they were able to protect the old houses with foundation in water, why in Toronto we cannot take the extra steps to ensure wetland or seepage significant features for future generations?

Linear infrastructure like rail cannot avoid features that are located along the route. Metrolinx agrees that these remnant wetland and ravine features located within these urban areas be protected and we are committed to reducing impacts as much as possible.

Will Stage 1 (vegetation removal) be conducted at night?

Yes, vegetation removal will need to be conducted at night to allow crews to work safely and efficiently due to the proximity to the tracks and the need for a track crossing. Noise and vibration monitors will be installed for the duration of the work.

How many trees are you removing now?

Metrolinx’s goal is to minimize tree removals as much as possible. Qualified independent arborists reviewed the project plan with the tree inventory and determined that only trees impacted by the project . As a result of our collective efforts, over 60 trees will be saved compared to earlier plans, including several large Red Oaks. Approximately 200 trees will be removed from designated natural areas and approximately 80 per cent of these tree removals are within Metrolinx’s property. Approximately 70 per cent of the trees to be removed are invasive species – which greatly reduce biodiversity, as they force out native vegetation reducing the high-quality habitat that wildlife depends on. Metrolinx plans to plant up to 2,000 native, locally sourced trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants, working with the community, City of Toronto and TRCA to identify areas available for plantings.

Will construction equipment/vehicles be parked on nearby roads?

To minimize community impacts, staging will be done in the corridor or in the secured laydown area next to Wildwood Crescent playground. On occasion, some vehicles may need to be parked on public roads.

Is Metrolinx 100% sure that not revising the EA/EPR because of the change from minor culvert changes, to a much larger completely new culvert meets the legal requirements set by MOE?

Yes, the change from a culvert extension to replacement is a minor change according to Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP), so does not require a new EA or an addendum to the EA. That is because the construction footprint for either scope of work is the same, and therefore the impacts, which are studied during the EA, are the same.

When will the restoration plan be shared with the community?

Metrolinx has shared restoration details for Small’s Creek with the community. Metrolinx plans to plant up to 2,000 native, locally sourced trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants, working with the community, City of Toronto and TRCA to identify areas available for plantings. The restoration plan will not just restore the area after construction but will also revitalize biodiversity by planting local and native species and restoring the native habitat for wildlife. Metrolinx will provide two years of maintenance on new plantings, to ensure the success of the replanting efforts. We will continue to work with the City and keep the community informed throughout the work period and into restoration efforts.

Who at the City of Toronto approved the design?

Throughout the design process, Metrolinx has engaged the City of Toronto and other stakeholders on the work being proposed. Included in this process is the Transit Expansion Office and Parks, Forestry and Recreation staff.

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Comments

Anonymous's avatar

Little saplings cannot replace the old growth you’re razing. How do we know you will replant and what will you do for the well-being of the ecosystem/creek below? What is your plan for accountability on this?

Anonymous's avatar

We understand that, based on a statement that Anne Marie Atkins made to the CBC last week, Metrolinx will request that the TRCA conduct an "independent review” of the proposed early work adjacent to the Small’s Creek and Williamson Road ravines prior to commencing any construction work. We also understand that Metrolinx and TRCA have agreed to some form of partnership.Accordingly:

What specific aspects of the proposed work will TRCA review?
Does TRCA have the required engineering expertise to conduct this review? If not, who will be commissioned to complete these portions of the study?
Given the existing partnership arrangement between TRCA and Metrolinx, how will Metrolinx ensure that the review is, in fact, independent?
Will Metrolinx commit to incorporating any recommendations resulting from the independent review into the project?

Anonymous's avatar

Other retaining wall designs will have a long term and deleterious effect on the flora and fauna of Small's Creek and secant wall design is the least environmentally destructive and is implemented as a solution for small difficult installations.

Anonymous's avatar

According to the plans for the fourth rail, there is plenty of time to reconsider engineering plans and find a solution that protects the ravine? A solution has been proposed that you have ignored. The “urgency” with which you are choosing to act is self created by Metrolinx. Your timeline for starting the work is unnecessary. Why are you acting in such a rushed manner?

Anonymous's avatar

Given that there are solutions to the fourth rail that would protect and enhance the ravine, what criteria lead you to choose a solution without regard for the natural environment, or the local community? How and why did you make such a short-sighted decision that is not environmentally-friendly, and disrespects the quality of life and mental health of the local community who dearly love the ravine?

Anonymous's avatar

Why have you ignored the proposed alternate from the Friends of Small’s Creek for a buried bridge to support the 4th rail and avoid clear cutting trees in the protected ravine?

Anonymous's avatar

Wildlife and pedestrians have very few safe ways to get over or under the rail lines (short of using Woodbine or Coxwell) and none at all within the ravine systems.

Anonymous's avatar

Why have you refused to engage with the community in good faith, and in advance of determining your solution? I live Brest the ravine and am impacted by what you’re planning, but if it weren’t for the Friends of Small’s Creek, I would not have heard anything about what you’re planning. Why aren’t you engaging the community, and Toronto Ravine Management, in a solution that protects and enhances the precious ravines on both sides of the tracks?

Anonymous's avatar
Sep 29, 2021 - 17:56

What is the status of the 24-hour construction hotline - a request that has been made by the community repeatedly? Can Metrolinx commit to a 24-hour phone number manned by real people if residents have issues with construction?

Anonymous's avatar
Sep 29, 2021 - 17:28

Williamson Ravine ESA was designated specifically to protect ravine natural heritage features and its ecological function - substantial seepage and wetland communities. Criteria for designating the ESAs were same as for provincially significant natural heritage. Level of protection is along PPS, NHRM, the Planning Act and the City Official Plan. Metrolinx plan is to remove a large number of mature trees from the ESA and the adjacent ravine north of the rails. Also, the culvert will be moved and a larger size than the original. The planned work will alter this fragile natural area capacity to continue unaltered in respect to its ecological function-seepage. Unless, Metrolinx significantly changes its current proposal to ensure that Williamson's ESA is protected and can continue as designated, this proposal will result in site alternation. Metrolinx is obligated to protect the ESAs as designated, specifically their ecological function!

Anonymous's avatar

Does anyone need to explain to you why this is wholly inappropriate? From an email address that goes mostly to spam? Only a few weeks before work is supposed to start? I'm curious to know how many of the roughly 1,000 homes actually receives your emails.

Anonymous's avatar
Sep 29, 2021 - 17:57

Are we wasting our time coming to these meetings and listening to you . It seems to be a done deal..you are pushing this through.
Also, how has the ridership been impacted since Covid? Should this not be taken into consideration?

.

Anonymous's avatar
Sep 29, 2021 - 17:45

What is the oldest tree you are removing now? What is the most protected tree you are removing in terms of its importance for protection of our Native trees?

Anonymous's avatar
Sep 29, 2021 - 17:57

How will people be able to report concerns in the moment and get prompt response? Of particular concern when night work is planned.

Anonymous's avatar
Sep 29, 2021 - 18:13

Is Metrolinx 100% sure that not revising the EA/EPR because of the change from minor culvert changes, to a much larger completely new culvert meets the legal requirements set by MOE?

Anonymous's avatar
Sep 29, 2021 - 18:11

When and where will noise barriers be installed? I'm referring here to barriers for train noise, not construction noise.

Anonymous's avatar
Sep 29, 2021 - 18:14

I grew up in the area. There was a lovely ravine across from Bowmore school. An apartment building was built in it. The ravine is barely there.
The retaining wall is apparently a constant problem. Have you actually gone to look at the damage and issues in places where a ravine has already been impacted?

Anonymous's avatar

Will the restoration include upgrades to the ravine and the community's use of the ravine (e.g boardwalk, signage, items that align with the ravine stragety)