Written by Nick Tunnacliffe, Cambridge ave resident.
Nick is a retired Urban and Regional Planner.
I attended the public meeting held on 8 March at Estonia House and have the following comments. I spend part of my year in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic where there is a cable car catering to tourists taking them from the city to the top of Mount Isabel Torres, where there are good views of the city and the surrounding north coast of DR, a replica of the massive statue of Christ in Rio de Janiero, a botanic garden and hiking trails. I have used the cable car several times allowing both Dominicans and tourists to experience the country from a different perspective.
I support the idea of exploring further the idea of a cable car to the Evergreen Brickworks.
I do not support using Playter Gardens as the location of the station at the top of the Don Valley, primarily because of the difficulty in providing adequate parking and drop off space. Other issues with Playter Gardens are its immediate proximity to the Prince Edward Viaduct which will result in a visual distraction to drivers, safety considerations if drivers stop illegally to drop off and pick up passengers and a reduction in the capacity of the viaduct due to vehicles stopping to drop off and pick up passengers. It may be possible to mitigate some of these issues by closing the Cambridge access to Bloor East and turning Playter Gardens into a parking area and drop off point, but this will require extensive discussion with the neighbourhood, which uses Cambridge to access Bloor East and the viaduct, and residents on Cambridge Avenue who will experience different traffic patterns. The loss of public open space in the neighbourhood will also be an issue.
In Puerto Plata there is a parking area for 10-12 cars, a drop off area for taxis and a drop off area for moto-conchos (motorcycle taxies). I do not know how the ridership in Puerto Plata compares to the ridership that you are proposing. You said that you were expecting 400 passengers per hour in the peak period (Saturday marning). In order to ensure there is no congestion or problems on the access roads you should plan for that maximum and provide adequate parking and drop off facilities accordingly.
So if the idea is good, but the location of the upper station will not work, what are the alternatives. I suggest that you look at privately owned land at the edge of the Don Valley from the viaduct to Pottery Road. Those sites that are already developed with apartments could serve your needs well. The closer you get to Pottery Road the shorter the cable car and hence less cost to you, but you trade that off for a longer walk from Broadview station. (unless you subsidise the existing Brickworks shuttle and let it be your shuttle to the cable car.) I have not done an analysis of the pros and cons of all the possible locations, but intuitively I think the site at 50/70 Cambridge Avenue has many advantages. Full disclosure I live in 50 Cambridge Avenue. It is equally close to Broadview Station as Player Gardens. Access would be via the alley from Broadview to Cambridge resulting in more pedestrian traffic and the potential for more development, (restaurants, coffee shops etc.). The parking lot exits and is barely used. It is a paid parking lot so the owner would see increased revenue. Since there are two apartment buildings there the site is large and offers the possibility of drop off facilities for taxies and cars.
The other location that merits consideration for the upper station is right at Pottery Road on the west side of Broadview. The Broadview Avenue Planning Study is considering this site as a public viewpoint over the Don Valley. If the station provided such a view it would be a win win for everyone.
Other things I am concerned about include;
- Impact on the Don Valley environment. Have you talked to TRCA about this?
- Impact of the construction of the upper station on the slope stability of the soils in the area. I understand there were negative effects as a result of the Minto Skyy development. Have you talked to TRCA about this?
- If the cable car is built will the Brickworks discontinue its shuttle? I would not like to see this happen. One of the conditions of approval should be that the shuttle continue.
One of the benefits of the cable car would be increased awareness and visits to the Brickworks. I would like to see improved pedestrian access to the Brickworks from Broadview either by sidewalks along all of Pottery Road and Bayview or a marked path though the valley or a combination.
One of your specific questions related to the height of the cable car re the height of the viaduct. Because of my concern for distracting drivers, I urge the maximum height of the cable car be below the height of the road on the viaduct, definitely not above the height of the road.