Updated (June 2015)
On June 10 & 11, City Council approved the rebuilding of the East Gardiner Expressway – the “hybrid solution” – by a vote of 24-21. John was among those who preferred the teardown option, replacing 1.7 km of elevated highway with an at-grade boulevard with an elevated ramp only where the boulevard would connect with the Don Valley Parkway.
John’s position on this issue was supported by more than 70% of the more than 400 Ward 23 residents who completed his online survey through his website, e-newsletter and social media.
John’s reasons for supporting the boulevard solution included:
The ability to create a more livable and accessible waterfront;
The desire to find a solution which looked to the future rather than to the past;
The much lower long-term cost of the boulevard;
With the overall cost of the hybrid (over $1-billion over the life of the expressway), the legitimate concerns that this option will take money away from other transit and congestion fighting initiatives.
The desire not to further polarize the amalgamated City; elected representatives of all downtown Toronto wards preferred the boulevard solution but were outvoted by councillors primarily from Etobicoke and Scarborough.
Unfortunately, the closeness of the vote on such a contentious issue means that there will be many fights still to come when this issue comes back to Council. For example, no funding source has been identified for any of the options and there will no doubt be a major debate over budget approval (and the resulting tax increase) for the hybrid option.
Original Post (May 2015)
Many residents have been following the polarized debate over the future of the East Gardiner Expressway, a 1.7 km stretch of elevated highway east of Jarvis Street connecting the Don Valley Parkway to the West Gardiner and QEW. The decision, to be debated by Council on June 10, will have long lasting implications for commuters and downtown residents and visitors alike.
Two options will be presented to Council, each having their own advantages and drawbacks.
The “remove” option would tear down the elevated structure replacing it with an 8-lane boulevard at grade at an estimated cost of $461-million.
The “hybrid” option would effectively replace the existing structure with fewer access points at an estimated cost of $919-million.
It is not clear what the funding source would be for either option, but the less expensive one means less future cost that would need to come from either property taxes or the diversion of funds from other needed infrastructure projects, including public transit.
Proponents of the “remove plan” also note that it would open up more new land for development than the alternative, although the “hybrid” plan would open new lands as well. This would create opportunities for beautification projects along the waterfront.
Proponents of the “hybrid” plan argue that removal would lengthen already long commute times (by anywhere from 2 – 10 minutes per trip depending on the study). Local residents are already all too well aware of the impact of worsened gridlock.
Because this is a significant long-term City issue, John would like to know what YOU think about the two choices. Send in your preference by clicking here.