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Proposed TTC storage facility first item for new ratepayers group

By Joanna Lavoie

Nearly 200 Leslieville residents recently packed a local church hall to talk about their community; specifically their concerns about a proposed TTC vehicle storage and maintenance facility at the southeast corner of Lake Shore Boulevard East and Leslie Street.

Organized by the recently created Leslieville Residents Association (LRA), the gathering was two-fold, said Nancy Hawley, interim chair of the ratepayers group.

For starters, it was held to discuss the LRA’s formation and secondly, to talk about concerns surrounding the environmental and community impacts of the yet-to-be-built, $345-million Ashbridges Bay light rail vehicle (LRV) plant, one aspect of a greater citywide transit expansion strategy.

Hawley, a longtime Leslieville resident, said the new association came together because neighbours felt they were lacking a voice in local matters. She said several area residents started talking about forming a Leslieville ratepayers association following a recent City of Toronto- and TTC-hosted open house.

“About a dozen residents of all political stripes got together to form a non-partisan group. It really has become a grassroots movement,” Hawley said, adding the association is currently in the process of being incorporated.

“I love my community. The LRT is a very upsetting issue that has brought people together.”

Karen Buck of the non-profit, community organization Citizens for a Safe Environment gave a presentation at the March 9 meeting about the history as well as the environmental impacts of locating the storage facility in such close proximity to the Ashbridges Bay Treatment Plant.

“It’s a very complicated, contaminated site,” Hawley said.

“I think the meeting gave residents a chance to voice their concerns and there were many varying opinions.”

Local resident Peter Smith spoke at the meeting about other suitable LRV storage and maintenance sites in the east end, while Leslie Street residents also shared their apprehensions about the TTC using their street as a transit corridor to the proposed facility.

“This is not about not-in-my-backyard, it’s about look-in-my-backyard. I think everybody (in Leslieville) is pro-TTC. We are all transit users,” Hawley said, adding the group wants local councillors, the TTC and the city to hold a large public meeting to garner opinions about the planned facility to house and repair the city’s 204 new light rail streetcars.

“We need to have a proper policy dialogue and public dialogue on this.”

In a March 5 update letter sent to local stakeholders, Beaches-East York and Toronto-Danforth councillors Sandra Bussin and Paula Fletcher said they’ve asked the TTC to look at other possible alternatives to using Leslie Street as the route for light rail vehicles travelling from Queen Street East to Ashbridges Bay.

“We have met with the TTC and the good news is that they have heard our concerns and are committed to working with us to determine and examine possible alternative,” the letter said, noting residential, financial, traffic and recreation impacts will all be considered when exploring alternatives.

The alternative route ideas will be presented to local stakeholders later on this month, the letter stated.

The Ward 30 and 32 representatives have also asked the TTC to look into why the site is required in the area, greening and design issues for Leslie Street and Lake Shore Boulevard East, site preparation, and noise and vibration from the new light rail vehicles. These issues will be explored over the next few months at various meetings.

Call Lito Romano at 416-397-8699, email lito.romano@ttc.ca, or visit http://www.toronto.ca/involved/projects/LRV for more information about the project and future meeting dates.

The Leslieville Residents Association, which intends to provide services in both English and Chinese and possibly Vietnamese, will roughly encompass an area bounded by Lake Ontario to the south, Gerrard Street East and the railway corridor to the north, Coxwell Avenue to the east and the Don Valley Parkway to the west.

The association’s inaugural annual general meeting is set for June.

Hawley said volunteers would be going door-to-door signing up new members in the coming weeks.

Email info@leslievilleresidents.ca or visit www.leslievilleresidents.ca for more details about the new Leslieville Residents Association.

-with files from David Nickle and Brad Pritchard




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