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Public meeting kicks off transit relief planning talks

Last Updated Apr 24, 2015 at 3:27 pm EDT

Commuters and mayoral candidates gathered early Saturday morning to weigh in on how Toronto should proceed with the proposed downtown relief line (DRL) for the Yonge subway.

Among the crowd of transit users gathered in the Sheraton Centre ballroom at 9 a.m. were Olivia Chow and David Soknacki, as well as city councillor Paula Fletcher and former Chief City Planner and former Metrolinx director, Paul Bedford.

It’s part of a series of meetings which will continue for one week and take place in Toronto and Richmond Hill, all part of a larger study of the proposal initiated by Metrolinx.

The provincial agency, along with Toronto and the TTC, want to figure out what’s important to the public when planning the project.

“The [Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area] is experiencing unprecedented growth but is increasingly constrained by a limited transportation network. Supply has not kept up with demand,” Metrolinx said on its website.

TTC riders in attendance attested to that, with one woman telling 680News the wait for trains during rush hour is already too long.

“I mean having to wait four or five trains to get on a train at night to come home after work, it’s ridiculous,” she said.

Mayoral candidate David Soknacki acknowledged the urgent need to start the project as soon as possible for relief across the region.

“It’s really critical that we get going on the DRL. There’s a lot to be done … We need to find out where we are and how to get moving,” Soknacki told CityNews.

“It’s called downtown relief, but it’s also part of the region,” he added.

Leslie Woo, Metrolinx’s vice-president of policy, planning, and innovation told CityNews there are many solutions on the table.

“There is no silver bullet. We have to look at a whole bundle ideas,” Woo said.

That bundle includes transit-priority signals on surface routes, streamlined fares for travelling across the region, and two-way all-day Go Train service to alleviate the glut at Union Station.

“The movement of people and the movement of goods is related to the viability of our economy. It’s also relevant to health and quality of life. The more time people spend in cars and on transit and not at home with their families the less time they have to volunteer, spend time with their kids,” Woo said.

The Yonge Relief Network Study will be presented to council in June, and at that point possible routes and stations will be discussed. The project will also need funding.

Details for future meetings below:

Tuesday, April 8
Time: 6 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. (presentation at 6:30 p.m.)
Where: Richmond Hill Presbyterian Church, 10066 Yonge St., Richmond Hill

Thursday, April 10
Time: 5:30 p.m.- 9:30 p.m. (presentation at 6:30 p.m.)
Where: Riverdale Collegiate Institute, 1094 Gerrard St. E., Toronto

Saturday, April 12
Time: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. (presentation at 10 a.m.)
Where: Holy Name Parish, 71 Gough Ave., Toronto
(This meeting will focus on the Relief Line Project Assessment)

Where do you think a relief line should be built? Share your ideas in the comment section.