Transportation Options for Liberty Village - Final Report

Over the past four months, I have been fortunate to work with a small team to create a report on Transportation Options for Libert Liberty Village. This project was part of a Studio course in the Master of Planning program at Ryerson University. Our team worked in collaboration with staff from the City of Toronto, and our goal was to support the ongoing update to the Garrison Common North Secondary Plan - a long-term planning framework to guide development for the area that covers the Liberty Village employment area and surrounding residential areas.

You can download the full report by clicking on the cover page to the right or view our final presentation slides in the Slideshare below:

For more background on the transportation challenges in the area, and a very detailed analysis of current travel behavior based on the Transportation Tomorrow Survey visit my earlier post here - this post also includes the slides from my group's Interim Studio Presentation on the Background Research for this project.

This project provided an inspiring opportunity to dream a little about what the future could look like if we connect the many ongoing plans for the area including the following:

  • UnderGardiner, West Toronto Railpath and Stanley Park extension / Garrison Creek Greenway linear parks; 
  • Regional Express Rail, a new SmartTrack station, and the King Street Visioning Study; 
  • The new Citywide Cycling Network Plan; and 
  • Three new bridges and several other initiatives in the area that will make active and sustainable modes the most delightful way to travel. 

The simple context is Liberty Village has and will continue to grow quickly, but there have been very few transportation improvements to this former industrial area. In addition to the recent population growth that is widely discussed, the employment area is projected to also experience significant growth - from about 10,000 employees today to potentially over 20,000 in 2035. This growth creates a great opportunity to leverage private development to invest in new transportation options for the area. Some of this potential growth is shown on the current and future development maps and 3D building massing visualizations below:

The following maps summarize the current and future transit, cycling and walking networks and parking supply in the Liberty Village area. Many of the future improvements are already proposed, planned or approved by the City, though several extra bike lanes and one new bus route have been added. The report also describes all the interventions in more detail and includes detailed phasing recommendations for each of these projects.

If you put these networks on a single map, you get a complete regional vision of the future sustainable transportation network and local connections within the study area that will enhance access and circulation:

Broadly speaking the regional elements of this plan rely on the City of Toronto's King Street Visioning Study to remove cars from King Street that will enable the 509 King Street Car to provide excellent service to Downtown. The plan also includes investments in the West Toronto Rail Path and the UnderGardiner linear parks. There are also several other cycling connections aligned with the draft City of Toronto Cycling Network Plan that is currently being developed to guide the next 10 years of cycling investment across the City. More locally this plan supports the addition of separated cycle tracks on Liberty Street, and construction of a new road and separated multi-use pathway on the southern edge of Liberty Village that has a completed Environmental Assessment.

The cycling network connects to three new bridges including the following:
  • The funded Fort York Pedestrian Bridge, 
  • A smaller funded pedestrian bridge near the centre of Liberty Village, and 
  • A new 'King High Line' bridge connection from the end of Atlantic Avenue. 

The High Line bridge will connect to a new pedestrian mall and public park on Atlantic Avenue to the south, and the terminus of the Railpath Phase II extension that also has an approved Environmental Assessment to the northwest. Farther south, the pedestrian mall connects to an upgraded tunnel connection to Exhibition, that will soon have improved 15 minutes, all day regional express rail service. Transit will also dramatically change when a new SmartTrack station opens - this could be very soon if Metrolinx simply makes the UP express airport train stop at a pilot platform as soon as next year.

Finally, site visits and desktop research were used to select parcels that are likely to be redeveloped into new office space since the employment area does not allow condos. This will enable many upgrades to the local streetscape and public realm including new sidewalks, removal of boulevard parking, and creation of new public walkways between streets.

It is a lot to consider, so please do let me know what you think is most important to focus on first. I welcome your feedback in the comments below or on Twitter @HealthyCityMaps. Thanks!