Jane-Finch on track to get more than basic transit garage

Local councillor's motion paves the way for community space and economic development on site slated for transit garage.

The Jane-Finch neighbourhood is one step closer to getting community space and economic development opportunities as part of a new transit vehicle garage slated for their area.
As reported by the Star in November, local residents were horrified when they saw plans for a hulking industrial building in the heart of their community. The building was to maintain and store 75 light-rail vehicles for the future Finch West LRT. And the residents complained that area politicians were doing little to help the beleaguered neighbourhood lever local benefits from the publicly funded project.
But Thursday, Toronto City Council approved a motion that includes six points to improve the storage facility.
“The voice of our community has been heard, and it means the bidders will need to be thinking about what that building will mean to Jane-Finch,” said Wanda MacNevin, director of programs for the Jane-Finch Community and Family Centre.
“People still refer to (the Star) article for helping us move from information to action,” she added.
Among the six principles introduced by local Councillor Anthony Perruzza and seconded by Deputy Mayor Vincent Crisanti, potential developers of the garage will be expected to use “innovative approaches . . . to optimize social, economic and environmental returns” to the Jane-Finch community. And they will have to identify areas where potential community development could occur on the site.
The principles also direct Metrolinx, the province’s Toronto-area transportation authority overseeing the project, to establish an “engagement protocol” between the project’s bidders and the community to guide future development.
“We want the developers to . . . take the community seriously in its quest for some significant community benefits and significant community amenities along Finch,” said Perruzza. “We want to get the best projects possible along these major transit routes.”
Richard De Gaetano, co-chair of the Community Action Planning Group-York West (CPAG), said his group has been working for more than a year to get Metrolinx, city officials and area politicians to agree on including more than a just a garage on the site.
“From my perspective, it’s more than we expected,” he said of Perruzza’s motion. “But we’re happily appreciative and have told the councillor and deputy mayor as much.”
The maintenance and storage facility will occupy about eight hectares on Finch Ave. W. between York Gate Blvd. and Norfinch Dr., just west of Jane St. It will serve the 11-kilometre surface transit line between Humber College and Keele St. and is slated to begin construction in 2017.
A community benefits agreement is being negotiated with Metrolinx to ensure the $1.2-billion Finch LRT project offers employment, training, apprenticeship and local procurement opportunities for area residents and businesses. But the community says it wants the storage facility’s Finch Ave. frontage to include space for local businesses and social entrepreneurs. And at one of the corners, they would like to see a building for community use.
For the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, city council approved nine community principles to be included in the request for proposals for that project’s maintenance and storage facility. All nine are part of the plan put forward by the development consortium chosen to build it.

For the full article please visit: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/12/10/jane-finch-on-track-to-get-more-than-basic-transit-garage.html

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