St. Mother Teresa Catholic Academy Youth Engagement
On October 11th, 2018 City of Toronto staff, and Maximum City visited St. Mother Teresa Catholic Academy on Sewells Road in the Malvern Community to have a conversation with students about the planning and designing of the Eglinton East LRT corridor. Consultation activities with students at St. Mother Teresa aimed to inform and engage youth in dialogue about the Eglinton East LRT corridor, and expand participants’ knowledge of the future potential of the transit investment. Key to the engagement was informing youth of the context and future of the Eglinton East LRT project, as well as understanding the perspectives and priorities of youth, based on their experience with the LRT corridor now and in the future.
The use of context maps, activity boards and a project presentation were successful at stimulating conversation among students and generated significant feedback. Students were asked to annotate context maps with questions, comments, and likes and dislikes about places they know and use. Second, students were asked for their ideas about places, sites, and activities they would like to see in the future to improve their experience of the corridor. Three geography classes (two Grade 9, one Grade 12) and one Grade 12 History class totalling approximately 60 students participated in the engagement activities for 75 minutes each. The activities first informed St. Mother Teresa students of the Eglinton East LRT project, and the remaining time was used to solicit ideas and feedback based on lived experience. The team learned from students about their experiences travelling along the Eglinton East LRT corridor and how they interact and use the surrounding Malvern neighbourhood.
Students provided the project team with youth-centred considerations for planning transit stops, local destinations, transit service scheduling, transit maintenance and general transit experiences along the route. The consultation with St. Mother Teresa students highlighted the need for continued discussions with youth to build awareness and capture the perspectives of future users of the Eglinton East LRT.
Activity Comments – Conversation, Feedback and Map Comments
Summary of Themes
During the St. Mother Teresa consultations, the project team heard comments specific to the planned LRT corridor and comments related to concerns within the broader community. Almost all students were transit users, but many also were car passengers, and a minority used active transportation. There were questions about what an LRT is and how it is different from a streetcar, and comments that an LRT with better reliability, speed and capacity would improve their travel experience. Key themes that we heard during the St. Mother Teresa consultations that related specifically to the Eglinton East LRT and its corridor included:
- Transit Service and Frequency: Students expressed frustration with the frequency and reliability of buses in the area; noting that many times they would miss a bus and need to wait long periods until the next bus arrived.
- Affordability: Students were concerned about increased fare on the LRT and requested free transit for all students.
- Wayfinding and Information Sharing: The students identified a need for more for more signage regarding where bus routes go and real time displays for bus and LRT timing; students also had a strong desire for wifi connections on vehicles and at stations.
- Pedestrian Accessibility: Students also commented on the need for more street lighting in the local Malvern community around pathways leading to major intersections and the Malvern Town Centre.
- Connectivity: Students were happy with the close proximity of the station to their school, but also wanted improved connections to destinations like Scarborough Town Centre.
- Stop/Platform Design: There is a desire for more seating, Wi-Fi and charging stations.
- Nature/Environment: Students mentioned creating more sports complexes for soccer or skateboarding. They generally noted that there was a surplus of natural areas in Malvern.
- Safety: Students identified areas with high police presence that made them feel safe.
The consultation team also heard many comments about the surrounding community, including community spaces, placemaking, overcrowded buses, and additional community recreation facilities.
There is a desire for more community spaces in the area, like libraries and community centres. Students commented on better use of local spaces and more activities to attract youth to places like Malvern Town Centre, which some students feel is not youth-friendly and not engaging. Students at St. Mother Teresa discussed the need for more recreation and sports amenities, such as basketball courts and soccer fields.
Questions and Notes from Class Discussion
- Where would stops be if the LRT is in the middle of the street?
- How do you get to stops?
- Example of Highway 7 BRT used as an illustrative example
- How much will it cost to build?
- How much will a student fare cost?
- Poor infrastructure in general
- Malvern Town Centre is an asset
- Better lighting and wider sidewalks needed for safer walking at night
- Construction and traffic are concerns
- Not enough options for transit in the area and lack of reliability in bus service
- Need direct connection from Malvern Town Centre to Scarborough Town Centre
- How long will it take from Kennedy to Malvern Town Centre vs current options?
- It’s interesting to see the whole process behind the LRT and how much goes into it
- This helps me understand LRT better
- Need to improve transfer system with free and easier transfer
- Buses are too crowded at rush hour
- Sometimes youth feel disrespected or unwelcome on public transit by drivers or operators
- Scarborough Town Centre is too crowded at rush hour
- Food, affordability are important attractions for placemaking (e.g., Sheppard and Morningside)
- Malvern Town Centre is boring and needs more attractions
- Not enough benches near stops or street furniture in general
- Not enough protection from weather/elements at stops
Next Steps: St. Mother Teresa would like to stay informed about the projects next steps and future events/meetings. This can be done via the school faculty.