FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What’s happening on Lake Shore Boulevard East and the Gardiner Expressway?

As of August 31, 2021, the Logan Ramps at the east end of the Gardiner were permanently closed. This work is part of a much larger project to reconfigure the Gardiner, make space for new communities, and improve Lake Shore Boulevard East and create flood protection for the Port Lands. Learn more about the Gardiner East project on the City of Toronto’s webpage.

Additional work to improve Lake Shore Boulevard East will start in February 2022 and is expected to last until 2024. During this phase, Lake Shore Boulevard East will remain open with lane restrictions. See more details about what to expect along Lake Shore on the construction page.

This work will create new space that will accommodate bike lanes, pedestrian paths and a new linear park, and allow for the re-design and naturalization of the Don River, which will be a critical element for future flood protection of the Port Lands.

Learn more about the Lake Shore Boulevard East project on the project webpage.

Why were the Gardiner/Logan ramps removed now?

Removal of the Gardiner/Logan ramp and rebuilding of Lake Shore Boulevard East was approved by City Council as part of the Gardiner East project in 2016. This design for the rehabilitated Gardiner Expressway was determined through an Environmental Assessment that included consultation with members of the public. You can learn more about the City’s Gardiner East project here: Gardiner Expressway & Lake Shore Boulevard East Reconfiguration – City of Toronto

Waterfront Toronto is implementing this work now as part of the Port Lands Flood Protection (PLFP) project, which is already under construction, because both the Gardiner East and PLFP projects require changes to the Lake Shore Bridge over the Don River. Combining the two projects:

  • speeds up the completion of new public spaces and cycling connections
  • reduces cost and risk
  • reduces the overall period of construction by two years

 

When will the ramps to/from the Gardiner be replaced?

The long-term plan is for the Gardiner on/off-ramps at Logan Avenue to be replaced with ramps east of Cherry Street as part of the City of Toronto’s ongoing Gardiner East Project.

The new Cherry Street ramps are already in design. Construction from Cherry Street to Don Roadway is planned to take place from 2026 to 2030. These dates are approximate. Both the new ramps and roadwork west of Don Roadway are being implemented by the City of Toronto as part of the Gardiner East Project. The Environmental Assessment that set the plans for this reconfiguration was approved by City Council in 2016.

You can learn more about the Gardiner East Project here: Webpage about the Gardiner East Project

Why weren’t new ramps built before removing the Gardiner/Logan ramp? Why can’t they be built sooner?

The new Cherry Street ramps will connect to a stretch of the Gardiner Expressway and Lake Shore Boulevard that are being realigned under the Gardiner East project, so the construction of the realigned overhead Gardiner needs to be complete before the new ramps are built. This is the main reason why the ramps cannot be built sooner.

There are a number of regulatory and design steps that must be complete to ensure that the new ramps are built safely and will serve the needs of people who use them, and that work is underway.

The ramps will be built in an area currently undergoing a lot of change, and the planned construction is coordinated with other nearby projects to maintain as much traffic flow as possible.

The City of Toronto will share more information regarding ramp realignment and construction starting after the completion of this project as it becomes available. Those details will be available at the City of Toronto’s website. Webpage about the Gardiner East Project

What are you doing to reduce traffic congestion?

We understand the daily impact of increased congestion and traffic at certain locations is difficult. We’re working closely with the City of Toronto to keep traffic moving across a very large road network.

We have a Traffic Management Plan for the Lake Shore Boulevard East project that aims to address issues that come up as best we can. It is a live document that is being evaluated and revised as the project progresses. The project team has been soliciting feedback from the public and our Construction Liaison Committee made up of affected residents and businesses, as well as monitoring traffic in and around the construction zone. To address any significant impacts, we will continue to adjust the traffic signal timings and traffic signal coordination as required.

Some of the tools in our Traffic Management Plan are:

  • Coordinating with the City of Toronto and outside agencies such as Metrolinx and Toronto Hydro to identify their construction needs and avoid overlapping road closures
  • Changes to lane configuration and traffic signal timing
  • Reconstruction at certain intersections and ramps to the Gardiner Expressway to improve the flow of traffic during construction
  • Fully separated cycling facilities on all detour routes
  • Listening to your feedback and making changes wherever possible to keep improving our plans to minimize disruptions

 

It’s important to note that the traffic study that informed our Traffic Management Plan looked at a very large area of the city – because we know that construction on key traffic routes has impacts far beyond our construction zone. In fact, without any mitigations, this work could jam up the entire network. Our plan identified ways to keep traffic moving across this entire network. Even with our mitigations in place, we can expect congestion at some locations.

For more in-depth questions and answers about traffic and congestion, including on specific streets, please see the Q & A from the December 2021 Councillor’s Townhall.

How do I get on the Gardiner from the East End now?

The recommended route is to continue along Lake Shore Boulevard and get on at the Jarvis St. on-ramp.

We know that traffic getting to the Jarvis on-ramp has been frustrating, and we’re working with the City of Toronto to implement solutions. For example, traffic agents are stationed at the intersection and black and orange traffic cones have been added to help reduce the lane cutting.

Our Traffic Management Plan for the Lake Shore Boulevard East project aims to address issues like this as best we can. It is a live document that is being evaluated and revised as the project progresses.

The long-term plan is for the Logan on/off-ramps to be replaced with ramps east of Cherry Street as part of the City of Toronto’s ongoing Gardiner East Project. You can learn more about the Gardiner East Project here: Gardiner Expressway & Lake Shore Boulevard East Reconfiguration – City of Toronto.

What public transit will serve the new communities in the Port Lands?

Waterfront Toronto is working with the City of Toronto and the TTC on a Waterfront Transit Network Expansion. In the long-term, Light Rail Transit (LRTs) are planned along Queens Quay East, Cherry Street, Commissioners Street, and Broadview Avenue. For more information, visit the City of Toronto’s webpage.

The timeline for this new transit is not yet firm. We will share updates via our newsletter and social media channels as they become available. To subscribe to the Waterfront Toronto newsletter, click here.

How can I live in the Port Lands?

The work currently happening in the Port Lands is for flood protection. In doing so, we’ll create Villiers Island and a new mouth for the Don River. The flood protection project does not include any development or buildings.

The planned community on Villiers Island between Cherry and Don Roadway will be guided by the City Council approved Precinct Plan.

Developers for Villiers Island (the future community in the Port Lands) haven’t been selected yet. Development of Villiers Island, including building housing, will happen after the flood protection work is complete in 2024.

How do the new film studios announced in the Port Lands fit into your plans?

It sounds like you’re referring to the Basin Media Hub that was recently announced. That project is overseen by CreateTO and the City of Toronto.

The Basin Media Hub was identified as part of a larger cluster of production, interactive and creative uses in the Port Lands Planning Framework, which was approved by City Council in 2017. The planning framework sets a 50+ year vision for the Port Lands which includes existing industrial uses, new media and screen-based uses as well as mixed use residential communities. The planning framework also includes recommendations for how these various uses will develop compatibly over time. One of these new mixed-use residential neighbourhoods is Villiers Island – which is created by our Port Lands Flood Protection project. Our plan for Villiers Island is that it will be a climate positive neighbourhood, which means that in addition to reducing on-site emissions, the neighbourhood will help lower emissions from elsewhere in the city too. Villiers Island will also include over 1,000 new affordable homes. Just east of Villiers Island and directly north of the Media Hub is McCleary District, which will be another mixed-use residential neighbourhood once a more detailed precinct planning process is undertaken in the near future.

Why is construction causing odours?

As part of this project, we are excavating contaminated soil, as well as peat and other organic material found in the soils. This creates some odour.

What am I actually smelling?

Soil and groundwater in the Port Lands contain varying concentrations of metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAHs), petroleum hydrocarbons (PHCs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These may be released during excavation. Some of these compounds are detectable as odour. Excavation in areas with the highest contamination and the most odorous soil started in March 2019 and is slated to be completed in fall 2020, after which time the odour caused by construction should be less of a concern.

There are also ongoing industrial processes elsewhere in the Port Lands. These industrial activities outside of our construction site also produce odours. For this reason, our Odour Monitoring Plan includes monitoring odour at locations upwind and downwind of our construction site. If air becomes more odourous as it passes through our site, we know that it is likely caused by our construction activities.

What are PAHs, PHCs, and VOCs, and where did they come from?

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAHs), petroleum hydrocarbons (PHCs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are contaminants in the soil as a result of decades of heavy industrial uses in the Port Lands.

Some examples of materials containing PAHs are coal and old heating oil. They are also commonly used in the manufacturing of asphalt shingles and other bituminous products like road asphalt. The Port Lands was home to a coal storage yard, as well as factories and oil refineries which are a likely source of this contamination.

Some examples of materials containing PHCs are gasoline, diesel, heavy oils, kerosene and other fuels. These PHCs were left by the oil refineries and fuel storage facilities that existed in the Port Lands for much of the 1900s.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are compounds released into the air from industrial processes such as burning fuels and plastics manufacturing and products like industrial solvents, chemical degreasers, and consumer products like cigarettes and plastics. The many industrial uses and poor-quality materials used to create the Port Lands are the main contributor to VOCs.

These compounds are not unique to the Port Lands and can be found elsewhere in Toronto’s downtown.

Is it safe?

While odours resulting from our work may not be pleasant, they’re not necessarily linked to air quality or health concerns. Humans can detect the smell of certain compounds at very low concentrations. Naphthalene, for example, is detectable at a very low level – it’s a smell often associated with mothballs. While it’s detectable at low levels, it would take a much higher concentration to negatively impact air quality.

Air quality is being continuously monitored at locations around the perimeter of the site, both upwind and downwind of our work. Additional real-time point source monitoring is being done on-site using a handheld photo-ionization detector (PID). The threshold for this project has been set at a conservative level to be an indicator and is not related to air quality or health concerns. If the measured difference in total Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) between upwind and downwind readings exceeds project thresholds, the project team will collect a sample to conduct additional testing to ensure individual VOCs are less than levels set by the Provincial Ambient Air Quality Criteria.

What are you doing to control odour?

Our Odour Management Plan includes a monitoring program to continually assess conditions within and at the boundary of the site.

We have measures in place to mitigate odour as much as possible. This includes changing work practices, stopping work, perimeter odour socks, using odour neutralizing misters and, if necessary, odour suppressing sprays and foams.

When we receive complaints about odour, we react immediately and deploy our air monitoring specialist to the location to assess the situation.

I’m smelling a strong odour, yet your monitoring results shows no or little detection of odour. Why is that?

While we take all measures possible to control odour, the excavation process will inevitably cause some unpleasant odours. For many people, odour is detectable below our trigger thresholds.

How are you measuring odours?

We use a nasal ranger olfactometer to measure existing odour in and around the construction site. Specialized technicians who use the olfactometer are trained to detect both the level and quality of odour.

What if your monitoring shows odour is too high?

We can manage odour in a number of ways, including minimizing our work area, applying odour reducing sprays and foams to materials that may be causing the odour. We are continuously improving our control measures on-site. Frequent and timely input from the local community will help us remedy any issues as quickly as possible.

What if your monitoring shows air quality is negatively impacted?

If air quality exceeds our criteria, we will immediately investigate to determine the potential source, review the controls in place at the construction site and implement mitigation measures. We can also stop, change or slow down work as a mitigation measure. There have been a few readings that show increased levels of certain VOCs during excavation. When this happens, we take corrective actions and have increased our field monitoring at these locations. While these VOCs can also be present in ambient air, we are still reporting to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks and Toronto Public Health. We continue to implement and adapt our approach to address new and daily site conditions.

What about affordable housing?

The plan for Villiers Island is to build a mix of affordable and family-friendly housing. As part of our precinct planning and our overall mandate, Waterfront Toronto sets aside land sufficient to accommodate 20% of residential units as Affordable Rental Housing in all our neighbourhoods. Additional rental housing may be available based on the developer proposals that are received, and we’re working with the City of Toronto to make the percentage of affordable housing even higher.

The current work in the Port Lands is for flood protection and does not include any development or buildings. Development of Villiers Island, including building affordable housing, will happen after the flood protection work is complete in 2024.

You can find the Villiers Island precinct plan here.

What is a 1 in 100 year storm?

We often reference a “100 year flood” or “100 year storm.” What does this mean? Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) has a useful glossary of terms that you can access here. TRCA defines the 100 year flood as a flood, based on an analysis of precipitation, snow melt, or a combination thereof, having a return period of 100 years on average, or having a 1% chance of occurring or being exceeded in any given year.