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Globe and Mail: Gardiner:To or not to be?
Alex Bozikovic | October 8, 2018

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Tear down the Gardiner? It

















Vehicles travelling west on Lakeshore Blvd. are photographed on June 28, 2018 after passing under the elevated eastern section of the Gardiner Expressway

Start your engines. The Toronto mayoral campaign is now a real debate, and what’s at stake is how far the city should bend – and what it should spend – to speed up people in cars.

On Sunday, mayoral candidate and former chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat committed to bringing down the eastern stretch of the Gardiner Expressway if elected, rather than rebuild it as an elevated highway. For the first time in this campaign, Ms. Keesmaat has drawn a stark contrast between herself and Mayor John Tory. The question now is how far Mr. Tory will go to defend the indefensible.

Because almost any way you view it – the money, the environmental effects, the impact on an important new neighbourhood, the symbolism – Mr. Tory has this issue utterly, badly wrong.


The area in question is the eastern edge of downtown Toronto, site of the important Waterfront Toronto redevelopments and the Sidewalk Toronto proposal. What’s at stake is whether 1.7 kilometres of the Gardiner from Jarvis Street to east of the Don River will move down to the ground, merging with the multilane Lake Shore Boulevard.

By following that route, Ms. Keesmaat’s choice, the city would gain more than $1-billion in cost savings and new revenue.

It’s not her idea; this was the approach favoured by city staff, with Ms. Keesmaat as chief planner, after extensive study and consultation. Now she’s pushing for it again, as “building a future-oriented city.”

Mr. Tory is doubling down on his position from 2015, when in his first big vote as mayor he lobbied hard for another option, the so-called “Hybrid.” He overruled Ms. Keesmaat, creating a public rift, and he won the vote, barely. The winning plan was to rebuild this section of the Gardiner in a slightly different configuration than before, but remaining above ground.

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