Downtown groups defend most costly Gardiner hybrid to city works committee

Dennis Hanagan–

It’s the most costly option but two groups of Downtown groups say the $1.053 billion price tag is worth it to make the reconfiguration of the Gardiner Expressway’s east end the best it can be for a future payoff to the city.

“This is an opportunity for (city) council to resolve the Gardiner Expressway problem in a way that will best secure Toronto’s future,” John Wilson, co-chair of the West Don Lands Committee, told the March meeting of the city’s public works and infrastructure committee (PWIC).

City staff came up with 3 options—also called “hybrids”—to reconfigure the Gardiner’s east end. Option 3 relocates the expressway as far north as possible, removes the Logan ramps and rebuilds the Gardiner-Don Valley Parkway linkage. It also provides a promenade along the Keating Channel.

The price tag for option 3 includes $484 million for operations and maintenance plus $569 million in capital costs.

The option also has the least physical and visual impact on the planned revitalization of the Don River which includes a future sediment control facility near the river’s mouth.

In addition, it opens up 7.5 acres of new development land in the Keating Channel Precinct—the majority in public ownership—worth $72 to $83 million.

Wilson said option 3 accomplishes the goals of revitalizing the waterfront, reconnecting the city with the lake, balancing modes of travel, achieving sustainability and creating value.
He said city staff and the Waterfront Secretariat have tackled “an extremely challenging problem.” He likened it to passing a camel through the eye of a needle.

Julie Beddoes, chair of the development committee of the Gooderham & Worts Neighbourhood Association (GWNA) seemed resigned to accepting option 3 saying it “would provide the most benefits to the city and to surrounding communities.”

But Beddoes told the committee in a letter that the hybrid option disappointed GWNA members “who would have preferred that the elevated roadway be removed.”

Nevertheless, she said the GWNA wants improvements made to the public realm beneath and around the expressway. Referring to the Jarvis-Lakeshore intersection she said its present configuration “is very dangerous and inhibits access to the lake for residents to the north.”

A staff report to PWIC said a final decision on the Gardiner “is imperative” because of its current condition.
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