As you may know, City Council has been called to make a decision on the future of the eastern portion of the Gardiner Expressway. There are three options presented to us: “Maintain”, “Hybrid”, and “Remove.” Both the Mayor and Deputy Mayor have come out in favour of the Hybrid option. This matter comes before Council on June 10, 2015.
I am in favour of the “Remove” option for the Gardiner East. Of the three options presented by City staff on April 15, the “Remove” option is most economically favourable from a community perspective and from a waterfront development perspective.
Many proponents of the “Maintain” option have cited concerns over increased traffic volume in the eastern neighbourhoods heading into the downtown core. While it is true that both the “Remove” and “Hybrid” options would see increased travel times, the studies indicate that these would be just a few minutes. Furthermore, it’s important to note that, at present, half of all commuters to the downtown core take public transit, while only 3% use the Gardiner East. It would be reasonable to assume that this small fraction would decrease over time as more and more public transit options become available (e.g., enhanced GO service and subway service along Bloor-Danforth, a Relief Line, and possibly SmartTrack).
With this in mind, I believe that City Council has an opportunity to be a visionary leader in urban planning that will positively impact generations to come. By removing the eastern portion of the Gardiner, the replacement option – a treed Lake Shore boulevard with plenty of pedestrian and commercial space – will help reintroduce downtown Toronto to the waterfront. Toronto’s waterfront is an asset that has been poorly leveraged to date.
The “Big Move” of the tunnel-boring machines Dennis and Lea this past Saturday and Sunday, was a great moment to behold as the Crosstown project moves forward (and eastward)! See photos from this moment here. Thanks to everyone who came out to witness this.