Mayor John Tory is expected to address the Empire Club of Canada on the future of the Gardiner Expressway this afternoon as a city council vote on what to do with the eastern portion of the crumbling highway draws closer.
City council is expected to meet Wednesday to decide between two options for the 2.4 kilometre stretch of the Gardiner between Lower Jarvis Street and Logan Avenue.
The first option would see the elevated expressway removed completely east of Jarvis Street and Lake Shore Boulevard widened to eight lanes to accommodate the displaced traffic while the so-called “hybrid” option favoured by Tory would see the highway rerouted between Jarvis Street and the Don Valley Parkway with a new exit put in at Cherry Street.
Though Tory has been vocal in his support of the hybrid proposal due to concerns over the traffic implications of removing the highway altogether, an increasing number of councillors and city leaders have thrown their support behind the tear-down option in recent days, including former mayor David Crombie, former city planner Paul Bedford and a group of 14 developers.
Meanwhile, on Monday the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition released a statement affirming its support for the hybrid option. “We have one chance to get this right,” Toronto Taxpayers Coalition President Andrea Micieli said in the statement. “Toronto’s streets are already choked with cars. Spending the next several years tearing down a chunk of the Gardiner to replace it with an eight-lane boulevard dotted with traffic lights is an irresponsible move that will worsen the congestion crisis crippling Toronto’s streets. As our city’s population grows – adding another half-million people by 2031 according to the city’s own official plan – the focus must be on reducing traffic times and gridlock.”
The “hybrid” option is expected to cost a total of $919 million over a 100-year period compared to $461 million for the removal option. The immediate cost for the hybrid option is estimated at $336 million compared to $240 million for the tear-down option.
Tory’s speech to the Empire Club of Canada is expected to begin at 12:55 p.m. at Arcadian Court. The mayor is then expected to speak with reporters afterwards.