I wanted to provide an update on the work I have been doing on the community’s behalf to address the challenges posed by CSST (Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel) construction in New Edinburgh. Residents are understandably concerned about the potential impacts of the construction on their health, safety, heritage buildings, traffic and enjoyment of the neighbourhood and its amenities.
My approach to this project continues to be based on three tracks: to keep residents informed and assist with their information requests of the project team; to mitigate the impacts of this project on the community, and to work with the community association as it develops a community response to, and strategy for, the CSST.
One area of consistent concern has been the project plan to extract the rock and material from the east-west tunnel from the Stanley Park portal. When we learned at the public meeting in November 2016 that it was technically feasible to drill down slope, from Lebreton Flats to Stanley Park, and in light of the delays in the commencement of the project that seemed to partially solve the issue of access to the LeBreton portal, I requested a revised analysis of alternative extraction locations. I felt a thorough review was imperative, including the possibility of reverse tunneling and extracting at LeBreton Flats but also the options of a mid-tunnel extraction shaft near Nicholas Avenue as well as Bordeleau Park.
City staff’s response to my request was formally sent to me and other members of Council on Dec. 23. You can read a copy of this technical memo here. The memorandum estimated the cost of each alternative site to be between $23 million and $30 million and concluded that City staff would not support securing the required funds – either within the project budget or beyond – to transfer the extraction location.
I have since met with our MPP, Nathalie Des Rosiers, to explore the viability of all three levels of government that are funding the project working together to find a solution. While I want to be realistic about the difficult challenge of securing both the funds and political support for an alternate extraction location, I will continue advocating for creative solutions and discussing options with the other government funding partners.
Working with the New Edinburgh Community Alliance (NECA) and its CSST task force, I’ve organized a number of meetings to bring together City officials and community representatives. In late December, an initial discussion was held with the CSST project team and NECA task force representatives regarding possible routes for trucks to enter and exit the neighbourhood.
In response to a request from NECA, the CSST team is currently conducting an assessment of the different options and they will be providing a matrix to show the pros and cons of all possible routes, which will be a useful document to guide a community discussion. A public open house on this topic will take place in February – details to be communicated once a date and time are fixed. Such a meeting will be an opportunity not only to hear views on truck route options, but also to identify specific mitigation measures – from low truck speeds to other methods to ensure pedestrian safety.
Mitigation will be front and centre in my ongoing discussions with the project team on a variety of issues – from hours of construction to noise levels to other health and safety measures.
Keeping the community informed
I have been working closely with NECA and the task force to facilitate information sharing and meetings with the CSST project team. One of my first tasks in the New Year was to meet with NECA task force representatives to discuss next steps. I also attended the NECA board meeting on Jan. 17 to provide an update on developments. I continue to be in regular contact with NECA board members and task force representatives by phone and by email to share information and seek the community’s input.
Having spoken to and met with many residents living at River Lane and Queen Victoria who are seeking better and more information about construction activities occurring at that site (referred to as Site 5c), I asked the CSST project team to provide a briefing specific to that location, which they did on Jan. 19. An overview of the information presented at that meeting can be found here and the construction schedule for Site 5c can be found here. There was a great deal of interest in the meeting and I know some residents have outstanding questions unanswered. I am pressing City staff to ensure residents get information that is critical to understanding how this project will impact their day-to-day lives in the coming days.
Information about construction at the main Stanley Park construction site will also be made available via a public session before spring – details of this session will be communicated to all interested and affected residents. Furthermore, I have asked the CSST team to prepare a comprehensive information package to be provided to all residents throughout the community in advance of construction.
Next steps include a meeting with NECA representatives and the Mayor to formally seek agreement on specific steps to lessen the impact of CSST on the community. At the same time, the ongoing specific meetings in the community mentioned above are being organized. I am focussing my efforts on all three tracks – ensuring information is made available, identifying and implementing mitigation measures, and working with the community – in order to alleviate the negative impact of this project on the residents of New Edinburgh.