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Tunnel Vision: An Investigation into the Toronto Transit Commission Second Exit Project at Donlands and Greenwood Stations

The Issue

In June 2010, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) informed area residents near Donlands and Greenwood stations of its intention to construct two second exits on Strathmore Blvd (Strathmore). The TTC indicated in an unaddressed flyer, delivered to most properties, that four residential houses on the street, two from each neighbourhood, would be torn down to build a second TTC exit (Project). The flyer also notified residents of a public meeting, scheduled less than two weeks later, to discuss the design and construction implications of the Project.

We received complaints from a group of residents questioning TTC’s policies and procedures relating to notice of the Project, lack of public consultation, and differential treatment between the two communities affected.

Our Investigation

The investigation considered the following issues:

  • Whether there was adequate public consultation and public notice about the Project; and
  • Whether the site-selection criteria for the evaluation of the proposed sites were established fairly, communicated consistently and uniformly applied.

What We Found

Our Investigation revealed that TTC’s actions were unfair, including that it:

  • Did not meaningfully engage in public consultation with the residents impacted by the second exit project
  • Communicated very poorly with residents and failed to notify the property owners whose homes it planned to acquire in a timely and fair manner
  • Was not transparent with residents and was reluctant to provide information about the Project
  • Did not provide property owners with sufficient time to prepare deputations before the TTC
  • Does not have a policy, process, or procedure in place for communicating construction projects to Councillors and residents, nor a public consultation policy

Our Recommendations

In response to our investigation, the Ombudsman made seven recommendations, including:

  • A process and procedure for notifying Councillors of new construction projects that are scheduled to take place in their ward, as well as a process and procedure for notifying property owners about construction projects
  • A documented process specifically for property owners facing potential acquisition
  • A public consultation policy and process
  • Training relevant TTC staff to ensure they have the appropriate consultation and communication skills
  • Communication/notice be sent from the CEO or senior executive regarding the current status of the Donlands and Greenwood Projects and next steps to be implemented
  • Establish directives documenting the responsibilities of the TTC and the City’s Real Estate Division