Sheppard LRT yard plans draw criticism

Rose and Louie Sabatini support the construction of the Sheppard East Light Rail Transit, as long as the vehicle storage building is not placed in their backyard.

The TTC held an open house on Feb. 10 to present their plans for a Light Rail Vehicle (LRV) maintenance and storage facility that will be built near Morningside Avenue and Sheppard Avenue East.

The Sabatinis, who own a food packaging plant, said they were unhappy with how the TTC has managed the planning process.

[The TTC has] lined up their driveway that exits from their building and it lines up with our driveway that exits large, large trucks,” Rose said. “That’s not part of proper planning to me.”

She also said their business, Rex Pak Limited, would be affected negatively by the LRV facility.

“The noise, the traffic, the pollution — there’s all kinds of issues we have to think of that I don’t think [the TTC] have thought of,” Rose said.

But David Nagler, the TTC public consultation co-ordinator, said this is the only site that will work for the building.

“It’s the closest proximity to the LRT,” he said.  “We need the site at this location to store the number of vehicles needed.”

He also said light rail transit is a cleaner form of transportation than the current TTC buses.

“The facility is housing light rail vehicles,” Nagler said.  “They’re electrically powered.  There are no emissions on the street.  So we see this as a program that provides significant benefit environmentally.”

The LRV facility will be built close to Rouge Park and Morningside Creek Forest, a location that conservationist Robert Marshall said could affect the migration pattern of birds that live in the area.

“If there’s too much light pollution, they avoid the area,” he said.  “They get distracted and get lost and might fly into things like windows and glass.”

Nagler said the project will meet the city’s environmental regulations, including plans to limit noise and light pollution by building a wall and planting trees around the facility.

The TTC is still in the preliminary planning stages, but the LRV facility will undergo the Transit Project Assessment (TPA), a streamlined process that allows the TTC to choose a project without finding other solutions.

Typically the bulk of public consultations comes after the TPA begins, which means design decisions have already been made.  This has raised concerns that public input would be limited and transparency undermined.

The Sabatinis said they didn’t find out about the LRV facility until they received a notice about the open house.

The site for the building is final, but Rose said she is not going to move her packaging plant.

“I’ve established a business.  It’s taken me 20 years to get there.  They’re going to come and move me out?  No.  I think we should come to an agreement that can work for both.”