CRBA agenda hijacked by streetcar problems

A local streetcar crisis overshadowed the agenda at the Corktown Residents’ and Business Association (CRBA) monthly meeting Nov. 1.

Partway through the question period, Jason Mednick—a resident of the King/Sumach area (who would not disclose his name to The Bulletin at the time but later in the week did so to CBC)— commented that the screech of the streetcars turning at King and Sumach was so loud as to prevent sleep. Apparently the issue has been ongoing since the inauguration of the 514 (Distillery Loop–Dufferin) line on June 19.

“It’s become a form of torture for us,” Mednick told the meeting and later repeated to CBC, “equivalent to waterboarding. About every 10 minutes or so, 20 hours a day, we listen to excessive screeching and squealing as they negotiate the turn.” Mednick also noted heavy vibration, and called for the service to be stopped.

The issue—which took the meeting somewhat by surprise—was amplified by other attendees, who also noted that there were substantial problems with streetlight timings at the Cherry/Front and Cherry/Eastern intersections, as well as with poorly-delineated turning lane stripes which have led to vehicles accidentally getting onto the streetcar right-of-way and then being unable to get off. (There have been earlier, similar incidents with the slightly older right-of-way at Queen’s Quay.)

Deputy Mayor and area councillor Pam McConnell’s office was aware of the issues and noted that streetcar service was now suspended (replaced with shuttle buses) between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. A public meeting was subsequently scheduled with the councillor’s office and the TTC.

The scheduled agenda led off with an update by Andrew Hilton of Waterfront Toronto on the due diligence report on planning for the renaturalization and flood protection of a large swathe of the Port Lands south of the current Don Mouth (summarized at  https://thebulletin.ca/report-port-lands-flood-protection/. A new cross-community group, Waterfront For All, which supports the $1.25 bn scheme, has been founded, as reported by The Bulletin at https://thebulletin.ca/don-river-flood-protection-key-unlocking-potential-torontos-waterfront/.

Hilton reported that after 15 years in the making the report has now been adopted by council’s executive committee but still lacks tripartite funding.

In response to audience questions, he responded that because so much of the project involves remediation and infrastructure—the land itself contains a major proportion of compressible peat and flowing sand and is highly contaminated—it is not suitable for PPP funding as no private developer would assume the risk. The federal government is prepared to contribute as is the city (though funding has not been identified) but the provincial government requires additional persuasion in light of financial pressures. Hilton urged community members to become involved, noting that infrastructure minister Bob Chiarelli has the lead on the file.

Second up was a report from Cooper Koo’s Sarah Baldick on the brand new Green Roof at the Y, which will add 10,000 feet of programmable outdoor space in season. With the prolonged warm weather, the Y was able to open it this fall. Beldick expects to roll out the full programming season in 2017 including fitness classes, family programs, educational workshops (such as container gardening and green roof engineering), movie nights and BBQs, planting and growing food, board games and open access times—and as much more as the community can suggest and the space can accommodate.

Larry Webb gave a brief update of development in the area, including 48 Power St by Great Gulf, which is now being sold (over 500 units). Webb noted that the developer has made an improvement to the earlier design but a date for a public meeting including items such as Section 37 benefits has yet to be set. The existing rental units have to be replaced in the new development. Webb noted that there is provision on the second floor for commercial space that might attract a good-sized grocery store, which he noted would be a benefit.

There is an application by Alterra for a development at 18 – 32 Eastern Ave. between Gilead and Sackville. There have been three meetings with the developer; Webb noted that the first try at design (depicted on the on-site placard) was too big and included demolition of an historic structure on Gilead, but discussions have been, in Webb’s view, collaborative, and a response is awaited.

Webb reported some concern that applications for a large redevelopment at 77 River and Labatt where the Salvation Army is currently had been going forward without community consultation. Representations have been made to Deputy Mayor McConnell’s office.

– Eric Morse

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