By Sean Delaney
The next four years will see Metrolinx construct a new Light Rail Transit (LRT) system on Finch Ave W from Hwy 27 to Keele St. The installation of the LRT will require some permanent changes to the road network that will affect traffic patterns and potential truck routes for Emery’s many freight transportation companies. The city is developing a Finch Goods Movement Transportation Master Plan to consider the LRT construction-related changes as well as recommend opportunities to provide for the safe, efficient and effective transportation of freight in the area.
Recommendations will consider comments and concerns from the community in order to mitigate any harm area residents experience on their roads and sidewalks.
According to John McGill, principal engineer with project partner Wood PLC it’s actually a big part of the discussion.
“We’ve done a lot of data collection, reviewing existing documents, but in reality, these public outreach meetings are really to ground the truth of what we’ve been finding,” McGill said. “We need to go out and say, this is what the data is telling us, is it real? And are we missing something?”
McGill said when the partners are considering the improvements, a wealth of good ideas emanate from the public. And even though the focus of the work is the freight-oriented study, the resident and the impact on them is important.
The work, centered around freight movement, has required a serious engagement with local industry and high-level comment on a large area, so it isn’t the typical public meeting that will see a large attendance. McGill credits the local Business Improvement Associations (BIAs) for helping spur the industry engagement required to garner comment on the operational issues and generate creative ideas to support business.
“A lot of the commentary spoke to the issues of access to the 400 series highways,” he said. “There’s only so many interchanges in the area, so accessing them, like bridge overpasses and new interchanges were all excellent feedback.”
McGill said a local resident group also attended the latest meeting and planners really appreciate the involvement of those who will see their day-to-day life impacted.
“They were mostly concerned with the interface of vulnerable road users, school children, and other people when a truck comes through a road, ways to provide more separation and more mitigation. We’re not focusing on all that, but if we can fix things, we will try.”
He also explained that the goal is a comprehensive but transportation-focused master plan because if the work doesn’t have official status, the province isn’t going to give it much credence.
The plan is to “punch out” three sets of recommendations.
Short term quick wins, such as pavement that’s not up to snuff, parking restrictions, and access restrictions they can take to the city and see capitalized on in 2020 or 2021.
Mid-term solutions such as an intersecting road between Toryork onto Finch, slightly west of Weston Rd., related to the LRT coming.
“The Weston Rd. and Finch intersection will be difficult to manage, so it’s a bit of a bypass.”
And longer-term solutions such as interchange improvements.
“Things that will have a lot of negotiations and a lot of planning that are probably going to be completed after the Finch LRT is operational, but we want to put them on the books now,” he said.
The study is also going to touch on the fact the area is a designated employment zone. Roughly 50,000 workers need to get to work, and goods need to keep moving around the streets to keep those people employed.
The work, McGill said is all part of creating sustainable communities.
“You need businesses, and you need the economy,” he said.
If you would like to offer your comments for this public consultation process, please feel free to visit: toronto.ca/finchwestgoodsmovement