Toronto, ON – The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition is formally announcing its support of the Hybrid option for the Gardiner Expressway East.
“We have one chance to get this right,” says Toronto Taxpayers Coalition President Andrea Micieli. “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 8-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 travel times and gridlock.
The Hybrid proposal will maintain the continuous express link between the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway while re-calibrating ramps on and off the Gardiner East. Choosing this option will keep the number of highway lanes through Toronto at 15, still far behind other major North American cities of similar population such as Boston (28 lanes of express highways), Miami (34 lanes) and Washington (21 lanes). If City Council votes to maintain the elevated expressway, it will also choose to unlock eastern waterfront development and the potential for billions of dollars injected into the local economy.
“We’ve seen an expensive and, frankly, quite partisan attempt by the tear-down lobby to make this yet another battle about people versus cars,” notes Toronto Taxpayer Coalition Research Director Joshua Lieblein. “They’re trying to devalue and demean the experiences of drivers, while we’re proud to stand with groups such as the Toronto Region Board of Trade, the Toronto Financial District BIA, the Ontario Trucking Association, and the waterfront business Redpath Sugar in supporting the Hybrid option.”
Research provided by the University of Toronto’s Centre for Intelligent Transportation Systems estimated that commute times will increase up to 10 minutes in both directions if the Gardiner East is removed. “Residents will be processing the smog generated by four years of construction and all the additional cars idling at red lights as they struggle with longer commutes” says Lieblein. “The tear-down lobby is not being honest. Instead of seeing a cafe and tree-lined boulevard, pedestrians will experience unbearable traffic congestion and difficulty crossing more lanes at signalized intersections.”
Advocates of removing the Gardiner East fail to take into account that the city’s business does not end at the border of Toronto. The city has a responsibility to facilitate the flow of goods, services, and people in and out of the 416 and that includes maintaining a network of express highways.
“Council must consider the long-term consequences of the city losing $37-million per year in productivity just on removing the Gardiner East, on top of the billions already lost by congestion facing the entire GTA,” warned Micieli. “That accumulated cost is too great to ignore, and will quickly dwarf the amount it will cost to make the Hybrid model a reality.”
The Hybrid option could cost up to $1-billion for capital and long-term operating expenditures – twice as much as removing the Gardiner East. That is not a small number to consider and it is expected that the city maximizes and accounts for every dollar spent. But we can not forget that Toronto is home to Canada’s largest economy. Maintaining an east-west highway link is not only the more fiscally responsible choice for Toronto in the long-term but essential for both taxpayers and businesses investing in Toronto.
The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition and our network of members will be closely monitoring this week’s debate at City Council. We urge all interested parties to contact their councillor and voice their support of the Hybrid option.