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Court blocks St. Clair streetcar lane...

Discussion in 'Politics (deprecated)' started by Woody, Oct 11, 2005.

  1. Woody

    Woody TRIBE Member

    Don't know if this is a good or bad thing.... My gut feeling is that it is bad, because I have a feeling that it will make further TTC improvements more difficult to achieve....

    Court blocks St. Clair streetcar lane
    Angry residents argue that new plan is 'rapid transit'


    Residents of St. Clair Ave. W. who oppose a separate right of way for streetcars down the middle of their street won a legal battle today when a three-judge panel ruled in their favour at a judicial review of the city project.

    The judges said they would later release their reasons for siding with opponents of the project to set aside city council's decision to go ahead with the $65 million project.

    With TTC workers ready to begin laying down track tomorrow, the judges' decision reads, in part:

    “We are all of the view that this application should succeed and, accordingly, judgment is to issue granting this application and setting aside the decision of the City to proceed with the project.

    "Our decision does not affect the rights of the respondents to proceed with work not specifically in pursuance of the project such as the repair or reconstruction of the present surface streetcar line on St. Clair Avenue West. We will address all remaining issues, including costs, in our formal reasons.â€

    The city and the TTC have 15 days to appeal.

    "People should take heart. You can believe in something and you can fight for something you believe in and you can fight on principle," said Margaret Smith, the local resident who galvanized opposition and formed the Save Our St. Clair (SOS) campaign. "I really honestly believed there’s a better solution and our community is at risk."

    The decision represents a significant blow to the city’s 2002 Official Plan - which has been passed by council, but not yet approved by the Ontario Municipal Board. The plan calls for surface transit improvements in many key roadways.

    St. Clair was the first major transit project to be undertaken by the city, which outlines pedestrian traffic, cycling and public transit as priorities to be promoted and supported by council decision.

    Opponents argued before a divisional court panel that the city of Toronto violated the provincial Planning Act by not amending its official plan to allow for “rapid transit†on St. Clair Ave. W.

    Lawyers for the TTC and the city argued that the city didn’t need to amend its official plan because the St. Clair project wasn’t “rapid transitâ€, but “surface transit improvementâ€.

    SOS lawyer Eric Gillespie argued that if the city got its way, St. Clair was going to end up with the same kind of “rapid transit†found on Spadina Ave., Queen’s Quay and the Harbourfront.

    He said city maps on the 1994 official plan that guided the former Metro government designate streetcar lines on Spadina, Queen’s Quay and the Harbourfront as “rapid transit.â€

    He also said the former Metro government amended its 1980 official plan to allow for these projects, complying with the Planning Act.

    He argued the official plan passed by council in 2002 says rapid transit projects in “exclusive†rights of way require a more stringent process than the Environmental Assessment study St. Clair underwent from 2002 to 2005.

    TTC lawyer Jim Harbell had argued that the St. Clair project was not “rapid transitâ€, but “surface transit improvement.†He said previous references to the Spadina and Queen’s Quay streetcar lines as “rapid transit†were “quirks of historyâ€, although he admitted they presented the judges with a “conundrum.â€

    Harbell said none of the streetcar routes in Toronto qualify as rapid transit - despite the '94 maps that suggest otherwise - because they don’t attain high speeds, have their stops placed too closely together and don’t carry enough passengers.

    Therefore, he said, the part of the 2002 official plan that guided the St. Clair initiative was the part that dealt with “surface transit improvements†and was adequately dealt with in the Environmental Assessment process, which got final approval in June.

    He also said the 1980 Metro Official Plan was onerous and required continual amendments; so councillors writing 1994 Metro Official Plan - which still is in effect today - and the 2002 Official Plan - which has not yet been approved by the Ontario Municipal Board - wrote with generalities so that amendments were not necessary.

    Harbell said it wasn’t proper for the judges to rule on the adequacy of the EA process without the Ministry of Environment being named as a respondent to the application.
  2. why not

    why not TRIBE Member

    i've tried, but i can't understand why these people think it's a bad idea to do this on st clair.
    it's a huge fucking street, perfect for designated street car lanes.

    it's not like street cars aren't already going down this street, why not make it more efficient so you don't have them backing up traffic?

    fucking NIMBYs.
  3. janiecakes

    janiecakes TRIBE Member

    i totally don't get it either.
  4. basilisk

    basilisk TRIBE Member

    Is this what happened to stop the gardiner on the east side, kill the allen "express way", the eglinton subway line, etc? Pissy neighbours who don't want shit going down in their neck of the woods?
  5. Subsonic Chronic

    Subsonic Chronic TRIBE Member

    The people opposed to this are such idiots. The only argument I've seen against the dedicated street car lanes is from businesses who are scared that it's somehow going to prevent all their customers from finding the front door, or something equally as baseless.

    They've been given the impression that if a car is on the other side of the street and can't turn right into their parking lot, that they're just going to leave, and I guess go to some other neighbourhood without dedicated streetcar lanes to get what they need.

    It's so frustrating.
  6. janiecakes

    janiecakes TRIBE Member

  7. janiecakes

    janiecakes TRIBE Member

  8. coleridge

    coleridge TRIBE Member

    I certainly felt the same way at first when I found out there's opposition to it that the people opposing it must be idiots. But there are some issues that would suggest it might not be the most logical decision.

    Here are some of the negative aspects of the project:

    # Reduce the capacity of the road for traffic to less than half of current levels.
    # Reduce the width of the sidewalks by 1.4 metres on each side of street. (elliminating trees in the process)
    # Result in lengthy delays and congestion in all directions at intersections.
    # Greatly reduce left-turning opportunities at 130 non-signalized intersections and driveways, severely restricting accessibility.
    # Result in significant increased traffic through the neighbourhood side streets.
    # Result in increased wait times for pedestrians to cross the street.
    # Restrict loading opportunities and deliveries to area businesses.
    # Result in severely reduced flexibility in the event of accidents.
    # Improve travel times for a typical individual passenger by only 1-2 minutes.
    # Allow two fewer streetcars in peak periods, and one less during the mid-day period.
  9. coleridge

    coleridge TRIBE Member

    All that said I still side with the dedicated streetcar lane.
  10. derek

    derek TRIBE Member

    me too. i've got a relative on the end of the st. clair line, and it can be a bitch to get to.
  11. AshG

    AshG Member

    me three.

    though i generally find the protests against this to be of the "not in my yard" self-gazing variety, there are some possible environmental rubberstamp issues at hand.

    that said, this is a major setback for effective urban planning, not to mention overall long term environmental planning; they might address some environmental squabbles now, but in doing so ironically put environmental issues at greater risk.
  12. ndrwrld

    ndrwrld TRIBE Member

    i do believe, after installing the dedicated streetcar lane, it would reduce st clair to only 1 lane for automobiles, in each direction.
    that will cause gridlock.
    i know the streetcar is the ' better way ' but 1 car lane in each direction is fucked.
  13. man_slut

    man_slut TRIBE Member

    I don't think it will cause a lot of grid lock. People with cars will find alternate routes to get places.
  14. Ditto Much

    Ditto Much TRIBE Member

    We need a subway line going across Eglington. Stop gap solutions like this dedicated line are simply ignoring what we planned for almost 30 years and are diverting money from a real improvement to the service.

    Urban planning has put a subway line under Eglington since almost the 50's and for 50 years we have ignored this. To continue to ignore this and instead fund projects that are dubious at best is foolish and short term.

    Its not that I’m for or against the streetcar line, hey I never go to the neighborhood to begin with so I really should be keeping my mouth shut. Adding congestion to an area I already don’t visit because of bad traffic isn’t going to compel me to go there. The last three purchases I made on St Clair were all furniture that required me using a truck to pick up. With an even bigger traffic nightmare on the way I wouldn’t see myself going back to this neighborhood for larger items.

    I once chastised my sister for shopping at big box suburban nightmares. She reminded me that with a minivan and 2 small kids parking and shopping downtown was too much of a pain in the ass.
  15. why not

    why not TRIBE Member

    one lane during off peak hours to allow parking, two lanes during rush hour to accomodate volume.
    if you read the actual report, most of their concerns have been dealt with, or are unfounded.
    i think the spadina one did wonders for that street, but that's just my opinion.
  16. KodiaK

    KodiaK TRIBE Member

    the problem is that it's a shitty area to drive in

    there's NO easy way to bypass that area if youre in a car. Youre fucked.

    the area itself is a nightmare to drive in without a streetcar lane...
  17. DaftPunky

    DaftPunky TRIBE Member


    Haven't read the full page yet, but it seems like a pretty thorough explanation of what happened to the Allen.

    Never knew that there was also supposed to be a 'Crosstown Expressway' either. (http://www.torontoexpwy.com/crosstown_express-33.html)
  18. Dr Funk MD

    Dr Funk MD TRIBE Promoter

    I agree and have said the same thing soooo many times. It would be so easy to tie the airport to an Eglinton subway as well.
  19. swilly

    swilly TRIBE Member

    Honestly, this was a brilliant idea and its been held back by unfounded beliefs on the impact to local bussiness. Here are some of the major problems with thier theories.

    1)Local bussiness groups claim that they will lose alot of bussiness by losing parking in front of thier stores. Most stores along st clair have a small street frontage. At most there is access to 2-3 parking spots directly infront of thier store. The elimination of street parking then is only eliminating 2-3 parking spots per store. Are the local bussiness operating at such a small margin that the loss of two parking spots will make or break thier operations? What do people do at present when the road side parking is full(as it so often is)? Usually they will park up on one of the sidestreets. Thus what is the difference?

    Moreover,how much bussiness in the area is pedestrian based? With improved transit along this corridor how many more people will walking along those streets? Planning studies have shown that people are more likely to stop at a unusual store while walking by than driving by. The hassle of parking is a major disincentive for people to stop. However, pedestrian based traffic does not have that problem.

    2) While it is true that there would of been a problem for making deliveries those deliveries could be made at night. In the pedestrian shopping markets in europe many of the stores are bustling with activity as many of the delieveries are made at night while pedestrian traffic is low. Why couldnt a similar plan be used along the st clair area.

    3) People complained that it would make it difficult to cross from one side of the street to the other. I wonder if those same people tried to cross spadina not at a intersection before the transit way was built. Crossing over 6 lanes of traffic is difficult. However, with the transit way there it creates a break for pedestrians to stop at. Also the presence of the transit way has allowed the planting of trees along the spadina route which has increased the beauty of the area. By creating a barrier to auto traffic via a transit way it would infact make it easier for pedestrian traffic to cross thus increasing pedestrian based bussiness and adding to the city atmosphere.

    4) A subway would be ideal but...the intial costs are very high and they require a large amount of transit demand before they are viable. Transit ways and busways are good stepping stones for eventual subways. Building a subway requires a large amount of demand. The advantage of a transit way or busway is that they are cheap and can increase transit ridership and change the local populations transport mode choice for a small cost. Once the local population has switched over to transit sufficiently than a subway can be built. Building a subways and than hoping transit ridership will increase is problamatic because they can intially appear as "white elephants" when the ridership is not nearly as high as predicited.

    In ottawa they used busways in a similar manner. Once the local populace had switched over to the busway system and demand was present than the construction of LRTs began. Already there is the O-train in ottawa and there are several other lines in the city which are scheduled to be converted to LRTs in the coming years because demand has been created.

    Swilly Sano
  20. green_souljah

    green_souljah TRIBE Member

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