Design for the Davenport Diamond Greenway is well underway, and Metrolinx continues to share updates with local community members through virtual open houses and meetings. But where do those conversations lead? Here’s a look at community consultations for Metrolinx’s Greenway project, and how they help determine the scope of work – including discussions around Lappin Avenue.
Metrolinx often asks for public input – but what really becomes of that consultation?
Here’s how it’s worked for the Toronto’s Davenport Diamond project, and why it’s vital to make plans for today as well as chart a wider transit path ahead.
The Greenway is the public space located below the Davenport Diamond Guideway and is currently in the design phase. Detailed design is a key step in establishing the necessary details and specifications that the future contractor will need to build the project.
In case residents missed the last public meeting on the Davenport Diamond Greenway in December 2021, a full presentation and answers to community questions are posted online here.
The new elevated guideway is a critical part of Metrolinx’s GO Expansion program, supporting service reliability on the Barrie GO rail corridor, safety and connectivity in the community. When complete, the guideway will allow GO trains to freely pass over roads and CP rail tracks without the need for motorists and GO train traffic to stop.
A Look Back at Davenport Greenway Community Consultations
Davenport Residents’ Reference Panel
In 2015, Davenport Residents’ Reference Panel report provided recommendations for the greenway, Metrolinx reached out to the larger community in order to benefit from insights of the people who have extensive knowledge of the neighbourhood. Many of the recommendations that came out of the panel process informed the design of the project, as it is being currently developed.
Environmental Assessment Process
Prior to awarding the contract for the greenway design, Metrolinx completed an Environmental Assessment (EA) study, which was an opportunity to review potential impacts on the environment and to explore ways to limit impacts with consideration of stakeholders’ feedback.
The EA study takes a look at a broad range of impacts. The study not only reviews and assesses the proposed infrastructure’s impact on the natural environment, but also reviews the impacts on built environment and social and cultural aspects of it, such as community amenities, traffic patterns and utilities.
After the completion of the EA process, Metrolinx published an Environmental Project Report (EPR) in 2016 and it included a review and recommendations of what is feasible from an environmental, economic and social perspective.
Greenway Design Scope
In spring 2021, the design contract was awarded to Brown and Storey Architects Inc. The scope of work for the greenway was outlined to include:
- A linear park adjacent to the multi-use trail and under the elevated guideway to reconnect several areas on the east and west side of the rail corridor
- A fully accessible multi-use path for pedestrians and cyclists
- A sustainable approach to landscape and plantings
- Pollinator gardens
- Gathering spaces for the community
The scope of work considered community input from the Davenport Residents’ Reference Panel, the EA, and workshops with community members. It also evaluated infrastructure restrictions as well as which elements could be prioritized within the available budget. An important step in determining the project scope is to identify efficiencies using value for money criteria to maximize deliverables to the community within project funding.
The Greenway project will deliver long lasting benefits to the community through well designed public spaces and increased connectivity.
Key community connection points within the greenway will be at the following locations: Wade Avenue, Paton Road, Wallace Avenue, Antler Street, Dupont Street and Davenport Road.
Lappin Avenue Connection
Local residents have requested a connection at Lappin Avenue, which was also explored during the EA phase. The Environmental Project Report identified a possible connection, however, also flagged a property restriction: “Pedestrian/cyclist crossing at Lappin Avenue/Antler Street, subject to City of Toronto property acquisition”.
Private Property Considerations
Currently, the requested Lappin Avenue connection is out of scope and located on private property. Metrolinx has committed to designing the Greenway to allow for a future pedestrian connection at Lappin Avenue should the City of Toronto develop a plan for the connection with a City-initiated easement to acquire the lands. The Greenway design will allow for a potential connection from Metrolinx’s property/rail right-of-way. Metrolinx remains involved in City discussions on the connection at Lappin Avenue and will share any new developments with the community.
A Look Ahead
As the project nears the 50 per cent design stage and beyond, Metrolinx’s community relations team will continue to share updates and host virtual open houses and community liaison committee meetings.
Once the design is finalized, Metrolinx will begin preparing for the procurement of a qualified constructor. For efficiencies and a streamlined approach, greenway construction will begin after the guideway is complete.
In case you missed it, review the full presentation and answers to community questions from the most recent virtual open house here.
Got questions? Reach out anytime to TorontoWest@metrolinx.com and a community relations specialist will be available to assist.
Story by Teresa Ko, Metrolinx communications senior advisor