Toronto Union Station Revitalization | ?m | ?s | City of Toronto | NORR

From the Post:

Failed projects To Get Second chance
Mayor: Troublesome Issues: Miller says Lobbyist Registry Top Priority

James Cowan, National Post
Published: Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The coming year at Toronto City Hall will bring new life to failed or faltering projects, including the lobbyist registry, dog park strategy and Union Station revitalization plan, Mayor David Miller said yesterday.

During an in-depth year end interview yesterday, Mr. Miller vowed to revisit a number of troublesome issues when the new city council convenes in January. While Mr. Miller easily won re-election last month, he has also suffered setbacks over the past year. Plans to introduce a mandatory lobbyist registry were shelved by city council in September while a deal with a private consortium to refurbish Union Station collapsed this spring.

Mr. Miller told the National Post his top priority for council's first regular meeting will be adopting a mandatory lobbyist registry.

"It's about ensuring everybody is playing by the same set of rules, it's about the proper rules and it's about an easy way for the public to access information," Mr. Miller said, seated at his desk overlooking the Nathan Phillips Square ice rink "It's about the public knowing about what's going on. That's appropriate."

The Mayor also promised a new plan for revitalizing Union Station will be released by June.

"It will be a little while before we see results, but it will be back on track within the next six months," he said.

A proposal to give the historic station a $150-million makeover fell apart in April after Toronto's private partners announced they did not have enough time to finalize certain details before a May 31 deadline. The city is now considering other ways to revitalize the station, Mr. Miller said.

"We're going to look at everything," Mr. Miller said. "If we engage the private sector again, we will do it in a different, far less complicated way. Perhaps we can engage other public sector entities. You have to start with the fact that it's a transportation hub, so everything needs to take that into account."

The new city council will also tackle issues that politicians considered too controversial to be touched in an election year. Amongst the contentious topics is a new strategy for creating off leash areas in public parks. Mr. Miller said both dog owners and non-dog owners must be given "a real say" in where the off-leash areas are located. "People are entitled to own dogs in the city, they need places to take them and it's incumbent on us to work with the community and find those places," Mr. Miller said.

Also on the agenda will be the future of Casa Loma. Earlier this year, a task force recommended giving control of the historic site to a public trust, a proposal that angered the Kiwanis Club, which currently operates the castle.

"I haven't got my mind made up," Mr. Miller said yesterday about Casa Loma.

"I know what our end goal should be but I'm not sure the best way to get there. Casa Loma needs to be rejuvenated, it needs substantial investment, it needs professional management. There's two ways to get there: Keep the current arrangement but ensure provisions are put in the contract that meet those goals or go out for bid in the private sector."

Deliberations on these individual issues will take place against the backdrop of new powers created by the new City of Toronto Act. The provincial legislation, which takes effect on Jan. 1, gives the city new taxing and regulatory powers. Council committees have already

been rejigged to reflect their new responsibilities. Mr. Miller yesterday said there will also be changes to the way the city's budget is shaped.

In the past, the budget has been built through committee meetings and public consultations. Instead, city staff will now develop the budget behind closed doors and then present it to the public for review. Mr. Miller said the process will reflect how the provincial and federal governments prepare their budgets.

"The choices that are being made need to be clearer to Torontonians," Mr. Miller said.

"When we develop the budget in public, I think people see it as chaos."

© National Post 2006

Re: Post: Failed Projects to Get Second Chance (Union Statio

Thanks for the article.

I fear that we will get nothing more than a number of proposals to study and debate (re: Union Station). While not in theory wrong, it is going to take a long time for things to actually get going and the we have already waited too long (the station and the area is pretty embarrassing in terms of aesthetics and how it presently functions for its various uses).
Re: Post: Failed Projects to Get Second Chance (Union Statio

Re: Union Station. I think Miller wanted to let deadlines expire as a remedy for the whole fiasco of the bidding process and the results. I don't know this, but I imagine it was an "out" that avoided litigation. The downside is that it took time to accomplish.

Good at this point to recall that the station sat brand new and unused for seven years over a plumbing dispute. I'd rather wait five more years for a truly beneficial and visionary proposal, not just retail with shiny marble tiles.
Re: Post: Failed Projects to Get Second Chance (Union Statio

My guess.. the city will pay millions for consultants for a bunch of recommendations. Then pay millions more to a consultant to select a recommendation. Miller says "Perhaps we can engage other public sector entities. You have to start with the fact that it's a transportation hub, so everything needs to take that into account." By the time this process is over, TTC will have already started work or completed the 2nd platform and GO will have finished the direct connection to PATH and TTC. These projects can't wait for the city to make up their minds what to do.
Re: Post: Failed Projects to Get Second Chance (Union Statio

Good at this point to recall that the station sat brand new and unused for seven years over a plumbing dispute. I'd rather wait five more years for a truly beneficial and visionary proposal, not just retail with shiny marble tiles.

...couldn't agree with you more. The plan was nothing more than that and I honestly feel that we dodged a bullet by not going that route. I do however, understand people's frustrations that nothing has been accomplished except for a lot of debating and discussion- completely warranted in such a case, but I would like to see some productive movement on this soon.

Re: Post: Failed Projects to Get Second Chance (Union Statio

It is extraordinarily important that this project is done right - it is THE hub of Toronto's transportation network. What Mel and Tannebaum had in mind doesn't do justice to either the building or the system it serves.

Re: Post: Failed Projects to Get Second Chance (Union Statio

Completely agreed.

As a sidenote, I read on GO Transit's website that Platform 5B/6A had opened up, and includes an entrance from a new GO concourse west of the current one. Has anyone seen this new concourse? Track 6 services the Milton line, so if there's any Mississaugans on here who have seen it feel free to share how it looks!
Re: Post: Failed Projects to Get Second Chance (Union Statio

Union will be cleaned, fixed and done up eventually :)
Right now it looks almost as bad as Seattle's train station :(
Re: Post: Failed Projects to Get Second Chance (Union Statio

From the Star:

Union Station still on the to-do list
Miller says revamp a priority for key piece of real estate
January 02, 2007
Paul Moloney

Another year gone by, and still no plan to restore Toronto's venerable but deteriorating Union Station.

After three years of failure to get the project under way under his watch, Mayor David Miller has identified Union Station as a priority as he commences a new four-year term.

"There may be opportunities for public sector partnerships," Miller told the Star. "Certainly, we need to move forward with Union Station, and I'm looking forward to seeing what advice we get."

A Union Station makeover has been on the city's to-do list ever since it acquired the key transportation hub from the railways back in the summer of 2000.

Restoring Union Station is considered a key initiative for Toronto. The building is a historic landmark, a vital transportation hub and a crucial part of the city's downtown. It is a destination point for the TTC, VIA Rail and GO Transit and will one day have a rail link to Pearson airport.

But the structure badly needs renovation.

Appeals to the private sector haven't worked out.

Union Pearson Group, a consortium of high-profile companies, was to have invested at least $100 million to transform the place into a showpiece that would also attract people to retail and entertainment venues.

The consortium engaged in extensive talks with the city over a four-year period but announced in June that time had run out to complete the deal.

It may be the city approach of turning the whole project over to a single developer was too ambitious, said Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone.

"We tried to go with the big, comprehensive, whole-enchilada approach with the private sector," Pantalone said. "Either it was too early or that simply doesn't work. It may be that we can do things in smaller pieces."

That's one of four options advanced by city officials: if the private sector isn't interested in tackling the whole thing, maybe parts of the station could be leased out, renovated and put to new uses.

The other options are:

# Do nothing and simply maintain the status quo, which has left major components of the building vastly underused.

# Try again to find a private sector partner willing to re-do the entire structure.

# Go it alone, with the city carrying out needed renovations.

Pantalone hopes conditions are more conducive to getting something done now.

Union Station is considered a key piece of real estate, with the Air Canada Centre, SkyDome and the financial district on its doorstep.

That's even more the case now with a new office tower for Telus going up just to the south and condominiums sprouting up seemingly on all sides.

Meanwhile, GO Transit is improving operations within the station and the TTC plans to build a second subway platform to cure overcrowding.

"Union Station is now more central in terms of the flow of people and activities," Pantalone said.

Re: Post: Failed Projects to Get Second Chance (Union Statio

Yeah! He wrote "SkyDome"! The name lives!

Anyway, I'd be happy to see private sector involvement, but not a 99-year flawed plan that the Lastman bunch cooked up. Something where a private sector could pay for some of the cost in exhange for cleaning up some of the interior for more food and retail (Les Halls de la Gare in Montreal is a pretty nice food court, something along the lines of this would be great), which the private sector could profit from (say the rest of the old postal and baggage sorting station that is not much more than a parking garage and storage). The Great Hall is sacrosant, and I don't want that to become a shopping mall that happens to also have ticket booths for VIA and ONR. It needs TLC for sure.

I would also like to see density transfers to help pay for it too - use the potential density of building over the trainshed and wings and transfer it to nearby developments in exchange for restoration funds.

There's ways of doing this without making the station too commercial (and keeping it a transportation hub first and foremost) and without selling it to SNC Lavalin or another bunch of pirates for 99 years. Private sector involvement is great, just keep it leashed.
Re: Post: Failed Projects to Get Second Chance (Union Statio

totally agreed marshall.

the great hall is beautiful and should be kept in its original condition as much as possible. retail should not take over the station. transit is the stations primary function.
Union Station Renovation (Post UPG)

From City of Toronto News:

June 27, 2007
City of Toronto working to beautify Union Station

The restoration of Union Station is moving along full steam ahead, with the restoration of the west wing window and skylight completed just over a month ago, and many other projects planned for 2007.

"Union Station is a top priority for Toronto. It is very important that the City restore this facility to its original beauty and improve it as a transportation hub," said Councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby (Ward 4 Etobicoke Centre), Chair, Government Management Committee and member of the Union Station Revitalization Public Advisory Group. “I want Union Station to be recognized as the premier multi-model transportation hub in North America by incorporating the most advanced environmental designs and energy-efficient technology, while serving a broad range of passenger and pedestrian usage within a heritage setting."

The west wing window and the skylight were restored as part of a $3 million project. The window was repaired and reinforced with steel, the original and 1960’s sashes were restored, 132 glass floor units were replaced, and 28 original glass floor units at the attic level were restored and reinstalled.

The skylight was completely dismantled. Over 200 steel rafters were repaired and rebuilt and all glass, flashing and roofing was replaced.

“Since the City bought the station in 2000, we have been researching opportunities to enhance its beauty of the station, and make it a destination; make the station a place where people want to come and stay for a while,†said Councillor Pam McConnell (Ward 28 Toronto Centre-Rosedale), member of the Union Station Revitalization Public Advisory Group.

Beyond the work on the skylight and west wing window, the City has committed to significant work to keep Union Station safe, functioning and in good repair, including:
- Ongoing anti-terrorist and emergency preparedness work, made possible by partial funding from the Transit-Secure program
- Roofing and masonry work
- Performing work as identified by the building condition audit
- Constructing the new south access tunnel to Union Plaza and Bremner Ave.
- Restoring the heritage flooring, particularly in the Great Hall
- Restoring the copper roof and skylights
- Fire and life safety upgrades.

The report on the future opportunities for Union Station will be going forward to the September Council meeting. The report will look at the many opportunities the City has to develop and revitalize Union Station.

“By investing in Union Station, the City is investing in our downtown businesses. We are making it easier for people to work and get around downtown,†says Councillor Doug Holyday (Ward 3 Etobicoke Centre), member of the Union Station Revitalization Public Advisory Group.

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. In the past three years Toronto has won more than 50 awards for quality and innovation in delivering public services. Toronto’s government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Media contacts:
Cindy Bromley, Manager, Finance and Administration Communications, 416-392-4993

Sadly, they are just spending money to keep the building from falling down on itself. There is no money or plans for any improvements beyond repair.

While the 99 year lease was a bad idea (or perhaps a decent idea with bad terms), there has to be some solution to pay for a massive overhaul and beautification program for this very well used and important gem. I am looking forward to the September report.