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100 Comments

cityscape

New Report: Tearing Down the Gardiner is Our Best Bet

It's falling apart, and now the officials who have been charged with examining the road's long-term future say we should just remove the eastern leg of the Gardiner altogether.

Tear it down. That’s the upshot of a new report examining the long-term future of the 2.4 kilometre stretch of the Gardiner Expressway that runs east of Jarvis.

That report is part of a full environmental assessment, necessary because the roadway is crumbling and soon won’t be safe to drive on, or under. The four options that are on the table: maintain the roadway as-is and undertake massive repairs to ensure it is safe; keep the Gardiner but try to improve its aesthetics and the ways it interacts with the public realm; replace it with a new roadway; and remove it altogether.

Officials today refused to call their findings a recommendation, but their analysis clearly favours the last option: removing the eastern leg of the Gardiner and investing in a street level eight lane high capacity boulevard. This would open up new commercial and residential development, help the growing waterfront community become more vibrant and better integrated with neighbourhoods to the north, and increase waterfront access for pedestrians and cyclists.


Mayor Rob Ford and public works chair Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34, Don Valley East) strongly reject this advice, objecting to the increased travel time for drivers in that part of the city. (The stretch of the Gardiner in question is the least-used part of the roadway.) According to the study, by 2031 if the road is maintained travel time will go up by five minutes; if it’s replaced it would go up by 15 minutes. Both those estimates assume that local transit will be improved through increased GO service, the construction of the East Bayfront LRT, and the construction of some version of the downtown relief line.

Minnan-Wong and Ford would prefer we maintain the Gardiner; it’s estimated that will cost about $300 million in capital repairs and projected maintenance. Removing the Gardiner would cost $220 million, and also unlock an estimated $80-90 million in new government land value. The economic impact of removing the Gardiner is unclear, but Waterfront Toronto estimated it would be several times greater than that land value figure. (In their technical briefing, Waterfront Toronto officials pointed out that the local community has tripled in the last five years.)

The two other options—improving the existing Gardiner or replacing it with a new elevated roadway—received poor marks from the public during the three rounds of public consultation, in part because these options were deemed too expensive.

Member of the public can learn more about the report at a meeting on Thursday. A debate on the options is expected to take place at City Hall in April; if council signs off on the report then the environment assessment will move on to the next step: developing a detailed design. That design will come back for another vote, in the new term of council—at which point whoever is in office could try to reverse the current council’s decision.

In short, this is set to become a major election issue.

Minnan-Wong criticized the recommended approach for replacing a three storey expressway with what he predicted would be four to 10 storey condos. He also rejected one of the modeling predictions, that 25 per cent of current Gardiner users east of Jarvis would voluntarily switch to transit as road capacity is reduced. (The model predicts that if the Gardiner is maintained then 15 per cent of current users will switch to transit.)

Because of the environment assessment and contract-tendering processes, whatever council chooses won’t happen immediately: the earliest construction could begin on any of the options is 2019.

All renderings provided by the City of Toronto.



Comments

  • William Paul

    I’m not sure how I stand on this but could someone explain to me how exactly an eight-lane high capacity boulevard would benefit anybody? Retail opportunities..how? very hard for pedestrians to cross an eight lane street, there would not be any parking or stopping allowed so how would retail benefit? As far as I can tell the only thing that has royally screwed up our access to the lake is the 9 billion hi-rise condos that are sprouting up everywhere down there. Hell, if our Islands are so important, why did some council decide to bury the ferry docks? they have no visible street access…it’s like hiking thru an alleyway to get to the boats.

    • b_newman

      I agree with you though one way of doing it would be constructing it like the Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn – 4 central lanes with 2 lanes on both sides all separated by treed boulevards. The double lanes act as local streets and would be quite agreeable for commercial and residential development as it would be a nice pedestrian realm.

      • Lloyd_Davis

        Would that we had that sort of vision at City Hall. I can’t shake the feeling the finished product would look like the Lake Shore east of Carlaw.

    • Dinah Might

      Hey, Rob Ford can cross an 8-lane expressway any time he wants. We need to follow his bold example!

    • tomwest

      There would be a a large median, so it would be more like crossing a four-lane road twice.
      If you look at the designs, they show one of lanes on the south side being available for parking in off-peak (like King St or Kingston Rd). Plus, with “nine billion” condos, there would lot of people living within walking distance.

      • William Paul

        well transit is going in on Queens Quay(LRT) and will remain on King & Queen so NO transit on Gardiner PLUS no matter what they do, we will never ever be able to see the lake and will never have easy access thanks to the tons on condos already blocking the view and blocking access to the waterfront

        • tyrannosaurus_rek

          Repeating yourself doesn’t make it true. Those condos are on streets lined with sidewalks, with crosswalks.

          The Gardiner and Lakeshore don’t ‘block’ access so much as they create an environment hostile to pedestrians, a dead zone devoid of any reason for people to be there except as passage to things a block farther north or south.

          • William Paul

            well you cannot have a crosswalk on an 8-lane road as they are calling it and what do you call all of the railroad tracks then, that permanently will block direct access? Tracks are never going away . Also what exactly is the draw in that area? Richmond, Adelaide. With LRT on Queens Quay and new streetcars on King & Queen there will never be transit on ‘new’ Gardiner if they tear it down, no matter what they replace it with. Because of earlier planners, we are not like other cities with grand boulevards, we have no room to put them

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            Of course you can; I’ve crossed them and wider in Korea, the widest street in the world (avenida 9 de Julio in Buenos Aires) has literally dozens of crosswalks.

            The tracks are a problem, one that can be overcome with overpasses, but your claim is that condos are preventing people from walking to the waterfront.

            Once the elevated section is gone it will open up a lot of space for pedestrian-friendly attractions (commercial and other) where the on/off ramps were, encourage the redevelopment and repurposing of existing buildings, and generally open the door for reasons to go there.

          • Guest

            Hostile??? I live right beside the Gardiner and everyday, I’m thankful for it. I can walk under it or drive on top of it on weekends. Falling concrete can be caught by nets, not that you’d spend more than 10mins under the Gardiner anyways. I admire the engineering feat and the city skyline every time I drive home from the Gardiner.

            Are people so afraid of the 30~m stretch under a scary highway, they wanna call it “hostile”?

            Screw this I might vote Rob Ford if he promises to maintain/improve the gardiner

          • Peter Peng

            Hostile??? I live right beside the Gardiner and everyday, I’m thankful for it. I can walk under it or drive on top of it on weekends. Falling concrete can be caught by nets, not that you’d spend more than 10mins under the Gardiner anyways. I admire the engineering feat and the city skyline every time I drive home from the Gardiner.

            Are people so afraid of the 30~m stretch under a scary highway, they wanna call it “hostile”?

            Screw this I might vote Rob Ford if he promises to maintain/improve the gardiner

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            I don’t think you understand what hostile means in this context.

            (And if you’d vote for Ford on a single issue, like maintaining the Gardiner, in light of the thousands of reasons not to vote for him, then you don’t give a shit about this city and would vote for him anyway.)

          • Peter Peng

            Yes, please explain what hostile means because clearly you know something the dictionary doesn’t. O wait let me guess! It is “hostile” to the condo developers’ cash flow? It’s “hostile” to the urban planners who want to play Sim City?

            No, I don’t give a shit about this “City” if it means hurting the overall region in terms of traffic flow. It’s just twisting the knife in the wound. The Gardiner is a service to people/businesses outside Toronto by way of transit linkage, not everything revolves around Union Station ya know.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            I’m using the dictionary definition when I describe the area as hostile to pedestrians – it’s unpleasant, not friendly, resistant. There’s nothing there for pedestrians and their needs come second to the flow of vehicles. The net result is a barrier between the waterfront and the rest of the city (one that has nothing to do with blocking the view).

            I’m pretty sure condo developers use quick access to the Gardiner and Lake Shore as a selling point, so I don’t know why you’d think I’m shilling for them when I want it torn down.

          • PeteyUW

            To each their own then. I walk under the Gardiner two times a day for work and drive under it frequently, there’s no homeless people, no falling concrete, no dark monsters and shadows to observe

            As for condos, if you make it harder for people to get downtown, you are essentially forcing them to buy a condo in the downtown core or nearby TTC/Go station. More demand for condos = high prices overall. Certainly we won’t see LOWER prices in the areas cut-off of the Gardiner by the don lands.

          • vampchick21

            Do you really think EVERYONE who comes into the city HAS to drive in? Have you walked the concourse/PATH during rush? Guess where all those folks are going? Not to their cars, lemme tell ya that.

          • PeteyUW

            I walk to work via the PATH and cross the Gardiner daily, so yes I’m aware of all the transit options. I don’t know how I would survive if I didn’t have a car. I play sports in Scarborough, family in Brampton, friends in Sauga.

            Please remember the rest of the cities around the GTA don’t have such elaborate transit options and so they need cars. God help you if you’re a business or you have a meeting downtown and you NEED to drive downtown (it happens to me). If you just want toronto to be a car “dead zone” like Times Square then sure, let’s agree to disagree.

          • torontothegreat

            Taking the Gardiner down isn’t going to suddenly stop you from using your car recreationally.

            As far as if you’re a business goes. I run a company with over 50 employees. I have clients that I see regularly in Agincourt, Brampton and Whitby.

            Whitby and Brampton I take GO, Agincourt I usually take a cab, because I’m coming from the North End of Toronto anyways.

            Being in business allows me to claim those expenses on my company’s yearly taxes – so it’s win-win for me.

    • Lee Zamparo

      Check out the presentation by city staff and the waterfront TO org. There are many areas that would be improved; more land, more light, less pollution, less expensive to maintain in the long term, fewer traffic lights on lakeshore, and loads more. Just read the report, it’s short but gives you enough of an idea why it is the preferred choice of staff.

    • Lee Zamparo

      Re: the billion condos, recall that this stretch under consideration is Jarvis to just east of the Don. For much of that length the elevated highway directly abuts the lake.

  • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

    Bury it!

    Or if not, something a little less unimaginative than an eight-lane boulevard. For instance, put six lanes *below* grade, and have pedestrians, cyclists, transit and one lane of access in either direction *at* grade.

    • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

      Envelope math:
      —$300m to repair/refurbish
      —$220m to remove
      ——”unlock an estimated $80-90 million in new government land value”
      ——”economic impact…estimated…several times greater than that…figure”. Suppose ‘several’ is 4; so $320-$360 million.
      —That is, the net “cost” of removal is $220 – ($80 to 90 + $320 to 360) = $-180 to -230m — note the sign!
      —That is, it more than pays for itself.
      —That is, we could spend an additional $480 to 530 million on a more “imaginative” removal option, and it would STILL be cheaper than Ford’s preferred alternative.

      Look for the Fords, Minnan-Wong and co. to get this completely backwards. They will probably call it “expensive”.

      • Eric S. Smith

        Keeping the Gardiner costs more now, but at least it costs more later.

        • Peter Peng

          No. If you understand how the deterioration works, it’s mostly due to salt and additional loading from heavier trucks. There are many new technologies that can deal with salt and the additional load. Just need to invest into it properly.

          Read the Terms of Reference for the EA from Waterfront and it’s clear the damage is repairable “$50mil over 10 years”. This is peanuts compared to other projects the city is spending for.

    • Charles_Siegel

      This sort of multi-lane underpass plus surface street has been tried many times and has failed to create good places for pedestrians.

      San Francisco did something similar to Geary Boulevard in 1961, and it did so much damage to the neighborhood that they are now considering spending $50 million to fill in the underpass and make it a surface street again. http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/S-F-s-50-million-plan-to-fill-Geary-underpass-5209004.php

      I don’t think you can find a single example where this sort of design created a place that is attractive to pedestrians. Sounds good in theory, but doesn’t work in reality.

      You can find many examples where multi-lane surface boulevards created places that are attractive to pedestrians. Haussmann’s boulevards in Paris and Olmstead’s boulevards in New York are the most famous examples.

      • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

        I kind of like Comm Ave & Mass Ave here in Boston, but I guess that’s just for the character of the old buildings, and not because it’s particularly great for pedestrians (busy) or cycling (potholes).

        I worry that angry people raising the spectre of traffic hell (as in these comments and elsewhere) will lead to planners being directed to maximize the number of lanes as a way of maximizing car throughput, when they, you, and I know that that is not going to be attractive to pedestrians.

        I chose a poor “for instance”; but my main point (in my self-reply) is that it’s probably valuable to spend a bit more if that can get us infrastructure which balances these two concerns.

    • tomwest

      Below grade = below the water table. It would be easier to put it on the boottom of Lake Ontario. (Same amount of water, but less digging!)

  • istoronto

    Ford and Minnan-Wong can’t see past yesterday, let alone tomorrow.

    They should have taken down this section of the Gardiner when they took down the section east of the Don. The sooner it’s done the better.

  • dsmithhfx

    Oh yes. Tear It The Fuck Down.

  • Savannah

    I live in the area. The proposal to remove the Gardiner essentially adds one lane to the existing Lakeshore and then deposits all traffic from the DVP onto it. It will increase pollution in an area with already questionable air quality and result in significant overflow traffic nearby. Lakeshore Blvd and Eastern Ave are already busy enough during rush hour. It will not be more pedestrian friendly, and as for the theory of drivers switching to transit, the main transit in the area – the Queen streetcar – is already at capacity during rush hour.

    Removing the Gardiner isn’t the solution – burying it is. Yes, the cost is considerable, but I’d rather see money spent on that than the ridiculous Scarborough subway.

    • OgtheDim

      We can’t afford to bury it.

      The cost is too prohibitive and would come at the expense of every single transit project the city would do for the next 30 years.

      • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

        “We can’t” say on the basis of available information whether we can “afford to bury it.” — fixed that for you.

        We don’t know how much it would cost; we don’t know what the benefits would be, or whether they justify the cost; and thus we don’t know what the value is vis-a-vis “every single transportation [also fixed] project the city would do for the next 30 years.” (Do we know what those are? No.) No one has yet thoroughly examined the possibility.

        • dsmithhfx

          A cautionary tale:

          “The Big Dig was the most expensive highway project in the U.S. and was plagued by escalating costs, scheduling overruns, leaks, design flaws, charges of poor execution and use of substandard materials, criminal arrests,[2][3] and one death.[4] The project was originally scheduled to be completed in 1998[5] at an estimated cost of $2.8 billion (in 1982 dollars, US$6.0 billion adjusted for inflation as of 2006).[6] However, the project was completed only in December 2007, at a cost of over $14.6 billion ($8.08 billion in 1982 dollars, meaning a cost overrun of about 190%)[6] as of 2006.[7] The Boston Globe estimated that the project will ultimately cost $22 billion, including interest, and that it will not be paid off until 2038.[8] As a result of the deaths, leaks, and other design flaws, the consortium that oversaw the project agreed to pay $407 million in restitution, and several smaller companies agreed to pay a combined sum of approximately $51 million.[“

          • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

            “The multi-lane interstate highway lanes also had to pass under South Station’s seven railway tracks, which carried over 40,000 commuters and 400 trains per day. Construction crews also used ground freezing (an artificial induction of permafrost) to help stabilize surrounding ground as they excavated the tunnel. This was the largest tunneling project undertaken beneath railway lines anywhere in the world.”

            “Other challenges included existing subway tunnels crossing the path of the underground highway. To build slurry walls past these tunnels, it was necessary to dig beneath the tunnels and to build an underground concrete bridge to support the tunnels’ weight, without interrupting rail service.”

            Another: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaskan_Way_Viaduct_replacement_tunnel — USD 4.25b for 2 miles…but not cut-and-cover, instead, the largest tunnel boring machines *ever*.

            Clearly, all three of these are different projects.

          • dsmithhfx

            I knew you would say that, and it is true. Regardless, what you are proposing is hardly trivial or cheap, will run into unforeseen engineering challenges, and will run wildly over budget and completion targets, a black hole for infrastructure spending for several decades, with *many* years of disruption to traffic flow, enraged commuters, and nasty finger-pointing by all concerned. All for the almighty car.

            Be very careful what you wish for.

      • modlinsk

        Toronto’s economic contribution is 11% of Canada’s GDP (with expected growth as more and more ppl move to this City), we are the most populous city in Canada, and we pay lots of federal and provincial taxes…I think that a much larger portion of those taxes should come back to our city’s budget! So that we could afford to rebuild a more efficient and sustainable Gardiner. We can afford to bury the Gardiner. And we need to think long-term…instead of concrete patch-up solutions!

        • Lee Zamparo

          Not disagreeing, but Toronto doesn’t have the political will or way to make this happen. It’s all down to the provinces and the Federal gov, and they do not yield power without a fight. Ford certainly isn’t up to the job; he voluntarily did away with one of the extra tax-levying powers that Miller fought so dearly for.

    • Lloyd_Davis

      Perhaps one answer might be to design the roadway so that there are more westbound lanes than eastbound?

    • tomwest

      Did you read the report? If so, you missed bit about most DVP traffic goes onto Richmond, not onto the Gardiner.

    • Lee Zamparo

      Have you read the study of each proposed option? Please read it, let us know what you think: gardinereast.ca

  • http://www.matthewfabb.com/ Matthew Fabb

    The report that just came out said removing it would only increase the travel time by 10 minutes. I have no idea where they are getting that number as a few times they close the Gardiner over the weekend, the backed up traffic goes all the way into Mississauga. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour longer to get into the downtown from the outer suburbs when this happens and this is during the weekend not during rush hour.

    I think tearing it down would hurt the city’s economy as more people from the suburbs would avoid events in downtown Toronto, because of how long it takes to get in and out. Also GO Transit has improved, with the Lakeshore line now going every 30 minutes, but it still has a LONG way to go, to be more convenient for people and to take on more of a load. Other lines only run GO Trains during rush hour and I have no idea how they would be able to keep running GO Buses with it

    • torontothegreat

      Because it’s not being “closed”. I’d suggest you watch this video to understand the issue http://www.thestar.com/news/2013/09/19/taking_down_the_gardiner.html

    • Peter Peng

      Agreed. Traffic modelling is a sketchy affair. It might be +5 mins during non-peak. But +30mins during peak. It’s the +30mins in the morning before work that destroys your morale!!

  • m_ax

    Aside from the lack of reasonable transportation alternatives (I think the staff report counts on the existence of the DRL and transit for the East Bayfront, neither of which are approved or funded), I’m not all that swayed by arguments for tearing down this section of the Gardiner. I live downtown and have spent lots of time on the waterfront/island, and have never found the Gardiner to be an impediment to me getting there.

    Lakeshore is a different story and if the Gardiner is going to stay up then the City needs to consider ways to make crossing Lakeshore on foot better/safer. But Lakeshore is already bad enough — imagine replacing it with an 8 lane stroad, filled with cars trying to get to the remaining part of the Gardiner or to the DVP?

    The City should consider maintaining it with the improvements mentioned above, and if they’re feeling really brave, tolling it (and the DVP) to pay for it. That seems far more reasonable to me than sticking the general taxpayer with the bill, but I’m not holding my breath given the leadership in this city.

    • Lee Zamparo

      The DVP is technically a 400 series highway, which is the Province’s turf; council can’t impose a toll without the province’s blessing. Tolling the Gardiner is politically toxic because of how people of the GTA are conditioned to depend on their cars; not going to happen, certainly with this craven and leaderless council.

      I think you should have more faith in city staff, along with whatever architectural firm wins the redesign contract. No city that is in this climate has an elevated highway anymore, they’re total disasters hangovers from the 60′s that cities are either regretting (Montreal), or have done away with (NYC, Boston) to the eventual benefit of the city.

      • m_ax

        Hm I thought the City is responsible for the DVP? (It was built by Metro). The Province is responsible for the portion north of York Mills, where it turns into the 404.

        I do agree with you about tolls being toxic, which is true at both the municipal and provincial levels. Just saying that I think people’s tolerance for tolls may be correlated to the toll being dedicated to something that improves their commute, but that is probably giving people too much credit.

        Finally, I think what’s being missed here is that we’re only talking about the 2.4 km stretch east of Jarvis. If there is a larger discussion to be had about the entire highway (or at least the whole portion that runs through downtown), then we should be having that discussion, but that’s not what is on the table here. That’s why removing such a small portion of the highway at this point seems pointless to me, unless we’re pretty sure tearing a substantial portion of it down will happen in future.

        • Lee Zamparo

          “Just saying that I think people’s tolerance for tolls may be correlated to the toll being dedicated to something that improves their commute, but that is probably giving people too much credit.”

          It is giving people too much credit, I’m afraid. If memory serves, all the polling that was undertaken by Metrolinx last summer, when discussion of how to fund the Big Move was begun in earnest, showed that *no one* wanted tolls. Not HOV lane tolls for single drivers, not the establishment of toll-only lanes, no matter how much it would speed their commute. I think the larger problem is that people in Toronto are wary of change period.

          As for the size of the problem, I argue that 2.4k *is* a substantial portion of the elevated portion of the Gardiner: the remaining elevated portion through downtown is only 4.5k, from Fraser Ave to Jarvis. If city engineers deem that part stable enough for now (with repairs to be made so that no-one dies from falling concrete), then it will stay up until the last possible moment. Not only is it the cheapest, just-safe-enough option, but it will allow traffic engineers to study how the alterations made to the Jarvis-Booth stretch are faring. That’s about as fast as Toronto can handle :)

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    They should replace the whole stretch with a quiet two-lane street. Take the train, commuters.

    • nevilleross

      How do you get goods and freight to come into Toronto, Rek? By shuttlecraft?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrF3-JukOOU

      • tyrannosaurus_rek

        The 401? 404? 427? DVP? The Allen? 400/Black Creek? The harbour?

        • Peter Peng

          That is terrible. All those highways are choked already. How much driving around the GTA do you do? As a coop student I’ve had jobs all around the GTA. I’m sorry but unless we all agree to live in condos like in Hong Kong or Singapore, people need their cars.

          • torontothegreat

            I have never owned a car in Toronto, I don’t even have a driver’s license anymore and I’ve survived just fine, thanks.

          • vampchick21

            Same here. Hell, you don’t even need a car to get out of the city. Thank you GO, VIA, Airport taxi companies.

          • PeteyUW

            “Toronto is Great”; cars are bad; go public transit; okay okay I get it, you guys won’t give it up. Having experienced other subways and working with City & TTC engineering staff, I can’t imagine the TTC ever catching up to the point I can live without a car in Toronto. In Tokyo, Singapore, NYC, HK, and many other great cities a car-less life is feasible for the 80%, just not in Toronto. I appreciate your vision, let’s hope one day we see a Toronto with modern transit. JMO, but removing highways are not the answer, just a distraction, building transit IS.

          • vampchick21

            Ummm…I have lived here 20 + years with no car and have never once felt the need, not to grocery shop, not to shop, not to get to work, not to get out of the city, even at Christmas. And I only recently moved into a condo (for reasons other than your hysteria regarding folks moving into condos in your posts here).

            I don’t think cars are bad or evil dearie. I think they are necessary depending on where you live (rural for example) and in an urban environment one needs to not always jump into their cars, because it’s not always necessary at all.

            I agree fully that our transit is not up to par with the growth of the city and the needs, I also think the Gardiner was a stupid idea to begin with.

          • torontothegreat

            I fully agree that we need better transit. I also see the value in having a car (or renting one, when you need it?). But it’s a huge stretch to say that you can’t live without owning a car in Toronto.

            The TTC’s average daily ridership is 2.76+ million. So it’s your opinion vs 2.76+ million people who prove you wrong – if that puts it into better perspective for you.

          • PeteyUW

            I have tried Zipcar while my car was in the shop for a month. It saved me money, but NOT TIME. I have rode the TTC for years before realizing renting DT was better for my sanity. Again, I simply value my time more my money so therefore I enjoy car ownership.

            Are you saying 2.76 million people prove that I don’t need to own a car? Are you saying that MOST of the 2.76+ million people in Toronto don’t need cars and can just use public transit? 5.5million is the GTA total population btw, 2.8million people just in Toronto. Wanna bet how many of the 5.5million will say they need to own cars (unless we magically turn into a transit utopia) ? :p

            I’m sorry, we needz cars.

          • vampchick21

            We don’t need cars like people in rural communities need cars. For us in an urban environment, cars are closer to convenience than need.

            It’s really a matter of stopping to THINK about when you should drive a car and when you should use other methods of travel. Do I need to drive a car to pick up milk? No. I have about 5 or 6 convenience stores and three major grocery stores within a short walking distance from my home. So I walk for milk or other groceries. Do I need to drive to work? No. I live within a 20 minute streetcar ride from my office tower, about a 35 minute walk. Do I need a car to go to IKEA? Yes and no. Because they deliver and I can take TTC and the IKEA shuttle. But I fully understand why someone would drive there and back and wouldn’t judge them.

            I could drive to get out of town. I chose not to because other methods that suit me exist.

          • PeteyUW

            Wow I can give you a thousand reasons to drive instead of taking transit, but that won’t change your preference. I admire your ability to be happy without a car.

            Btw, picking up a girl in a rental car is not exactly great for a first date, something us guys should understand better. Oops, that’s just reason 1 out of 1000 :p

          • vampchick21

            Really dude? Really????? You seriously, deeply, truly think that the only way to get around anywhere at all for any reason is to drive? WTF? So I should then drive instead of walking 5-10 minutes to buy milk. I should then drive to work instead of taking the streetcar and reading or knitting or walking in nice weather. There are as many reasons to NOT drive as you claim there are TOO drive.

            And what kind of girls are you dating? I’ve never personally judged a man by the car.

            My bottom line is that there are indeed many other methods to get from A to B and just because only one of those is the fucking almighty car does not mean the rest are lesser. The car is not the be all end all of existance, period. If I were you, I would sit back and think about what really matters in life and what truly makes a person happy inside and out.

            You’ll find that in truth, not one of them is “what kind of car I drive”.

          • PeteyUW

            hehe thx TorIsGreat… don’t need to feel sorry for me, I’m married and happy with my car/life/wife :). Nothing was sicker than my old 01 Acura with the stick shift, speeding all round the province and road tripping random places. You betcha the girls loved it too. What can I say, I love cars!

            After watching Cars the movie, I cried.

            I see your point Vamp, cars are NOT a necessity. However, neither are cellphones & bacon & justin bieber… so if you’re saying the Gardiner should be removed because Cars are NOT necessary. I’m just saying it’s not fair to the the folks around the GTA who appreciate that highway. We don’t knock down cell phone towers cus they’re ugly, we dress them up because for some, cellphones are important.

            Vamp, I can’t get to my gym, my grocery store, my friends’ houses, etc etc without a car. I prefer to own rather than rent. I don’t know why it’s so bad. Some spend money on fur coats, I spend a meager $200/mo to maintain ownship of my car.

            Again, I admire your ability to be so happy without ownship, really do and I’m not being sarcastic.

          • vampchick21

            I don’t own a car. I can get anywhere without one because I live downtown. I think the Gardiner was a stupid idea from the start. I want it taken down for safety reasons with a viable alternative in place. I’m arguing against your assertation that everyone everywhere needs a car because that’s not true. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to hop on the streetcar and head home to my condo, my hubby, my kittens and my stepkids and enjoy a busy weekend.

          • torontothegreat

            What does any of that have to do with taking down the Gardiner. You can still drive all around the city without it, it’s not the only road in Toronto.

            Again, I say who cares about the “rest” of the GTA who don’t pay for the road that is costing the city hundreds of millions of dollars to maintain.

          • PeteyUW

            The eglinton LRT is a 5billion dollar project. Compared to this 0.5billion dollar gardener thing, it really just seems like distraction away from a DRL that will make everyone happier.

          • torontothegreat

            If you’re dating the types of people that care about what kind of car you drive, I feel sorry for you.

            I also feel sorry for you that you feel insecure about it. Not sure what is more heartbreaking.

          • torontothegreat

            No, initially you claimed “As a coop student I’ve had jobs all around the GTA”

            And I’m saying that 2+ million people manage just fine everyday. But you can’t seem to see the forest through the trees.

          • torontothegreat

            The amount of people who own cars is hardly a reflection of people that actually “need” cars.

            Nice try though…

          • PeteyUW

            The same goes for the opposite: # of ttc riders does not equal # of people that don’t need a car.

            Using your logic, 95% (2.7mil) of the people in toronto can just sell their cars today and ride the ttc. How much you wanna bet 2 million would rather move than get rid of their cars?

            You are neglecting the fact that TTC is utter crap

          • torontothegreat

            VIA-1 is amazing!

          • vampchick21

            Love taking VIA! We took it to Niagara last summer and we take it to my folks’ place all the time. We have plans to take it out West some day too.

          • torontothegreat

            I’ve been to so many places on Via, the trip out west is highly recommended! You’ll appreciate Canada on a whole new level.

          • vampchick21

            That’s what I figured. :) I love that viewing dome on the top of some of the cars on the westbound train. Something about VIA and train trips in general is very romantic. That and you can buy wine. :)

          • torontothegreat

            Wine is free on VIA-1 – Only way to travel!

          • vampchick21

            Well, the train to my folks doesn’t offer VIA-1 sadly. :( So I have to pay to get my drunk on. Or fill the thermos with the best of Niagara region and bring two travel mugs!

          • PeteyUW

            I’m sorry, I value my driver’s license and being able to drive to see my parents in Brampton in less than 40mins. Good for you though.

          • vampchick21

            I take 2 hours on VIA to see my parents. Enjoy it too. We aren’t bashing you for having one, we’re pointing out that IT IS NOT ALWAYS A NECESSARY THING TO HAVE.

          • torontothegreat

            Valuing a sense of convenience isn’t the same as “people need their cars”. Clearly you do not need a car, you choose to have one.

          • PeteyUW

            I don’t need a cell phone either, I choose to have one to save me time. I guess I should get rid of it on that basis if that means other people will be happier.

  • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

    It’s not yet on the table because too many people (councillors, even) are ignorant of positive examples like the one you mentioned. Don’t be afraid to speak up!

    • Lee Zamparo

      Too expensive, never find enough backing on this (or likely any future) council in Toronto. Too cheap, no vision.

  • Lee Zamparo

    The absence of pedestrian overpasses is something I imagine will be added. When Lakeshore and the Gardiner were built, the land was meant for industry, pedestrians crossing were (clearly) given no thought. The usage of the land has changed, and whatever designs for replacement will take that into account. Maintaining will be the *worst* option for pedestrians.

  • Savannah

    Shall we send the millions of cars that will be deposited in the area over to your neighbourhood, Lynn?

    • tomwest

      … wait, are you saying you can’t reach downtown by transit???

    • tyrannosaurus_rek

      I’m not sure what you mean by fully developed transit. San Francisco is hardly awash in subway or LRT lines, but where they don’t go buses do – just like Toronto.

      The Embarcadaro is still a 6-lane highway (with the equivalent of 3 lanes of space down the middle for MUNI vehicles), but it’s crossable, with pedestrian-friendly things to see and do on either side now that the elevated section is gone.

  • jimro

    These plans appear to fall short of the possibilities and seem to reflect a political view rather than a functional or citizen view of the City and the Waterfront.

    My approach has always been this: if the Gardner is to stay in any format, let it stay to move people around the downtown area. So remove the on/off ramps for Spadina, York/Bay/Yonge and Jarvis. The land freed up by removing these ramps is considerable. Then the Gardner could be buried at much lower cost and access to the waterfront completely opened up. People who work downtown would now have to switch at some point to the Lakeshore which is a much more manageable proposition to get in or out of the downtown area. Also, any plan to refurbish or bury the Gardner should include provision for LRT or dedicated busway (which can later be converted to LRT when passenger volumes make that practical).

    • KeithB

      Seems like a sensible plan.
      However, if we can’t get money for subways, it seems unlikely that we can finance an underground roadway.
      Oh, and don’t even think about raising taxes to improve the city…(sheesh)
      They will cheap out and drive the traffic to grade and we will have no southern “express” route across the city. The 401 will be even worse!
      BTW…doesn’t the concept look pretty? Yeah, riiiiiight….

  • jimro

    The business of “disappearing traffic” is unbelievable to most politicians (and drivers, of course!) but it is a fact of traffic engineering. I believe it was first documented in the UK when part of a highway (motorway) was closed down for major refurbishment. All sorts of arrangements were made to accommodate the displaced traffic but, in reality, the problem never materialized. My theory: drivers are drawn to highways because they believe they are the fastest route but when that option is closed to them, they will choose one of the many, many alternatives available in an unpredictable manner.

  • Charles_Siegel

    The Champs Elysee in Paris has ten lanes (five in each direction) and everyone considers it a great place for pedestrians – including all the shoppers who fill its wide sidewalks. It is easy to cross, because there are signals at each intersection.

  • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

    Do we really have incompetent planners, or do we have good planners who are hobbled by shortsighted, cheap politicians?

    • Lee Zamparo

      Hobbled, and also overworked. Planning has something like 50-60 vacant positions currently, iirc.

  • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

    I said we could spend *more* than $220 million and it would still pay for itself, which is true.

    Did I say “spend $20 billion”? Would I support that, if someone were dumb enough to suggest it? No.

    I for one would love to discuss actual options, not straw men that are two orders of magnitude too large.

    • dsmithhfx

      “I for one would love to discuss actual options, not straw men that are two orders of magnitude too large.”

      You’re not really cut out for this.

  • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

    For something to be (environmentally) assessed, it must first be proposed.

    What was proposed here was, “Do something, quick, before the Gardiner falls apart!” It *isn’t* energy or transport planning—it’s crisis response.

    That’s because no one had the courage, or authority, or bandwidth, earlier, to propose a look at the whole corridor :(

  • Rabid Hamster

    I always find the artist renditions of a “removed Gardiner” street scape striking. One or two cars and several pedestrians. Its laughable and anyone who has spent anytime in Toronto must see the irony. A true rendition would include the 1000 plus cars and the gridlock. Toronto Transit is overloaded and outdated. Killing an expressway to the DVP will be a disaster. How does it benefit anyone to have a long line of cars idling for an additional 15 minutes on an already crowded city street? In the land of moon beams and rainbows I suppose people will suddenly give up their cars. You need a system that allows cars and transit to move freely. You have to kill street cars they cause massive gridlock. Dedicated LRT lines that don’t interfere with traffic, and subways are the answer. Expensive, yes. You get what you pay for.

  • Peter Peng

    This is the selfish way. Like it or not, the Gardiner provides REGIONAL linkage for people travelling between Mississauga and Pickering. When the 401 is jammed (and it always is), the Gardiner is the last alternative.

    • torontothegreat

      People travelling between Mississauga and Pickering do not pay for the Gardiner. So who’s being selfish now?

      • PeteyUW

        Please stop with the “they don’t pay for it so they can’t use it” mentality. Everyone pays taxes and everyone benefits from it one way or another. Who do you think is paying for the Scarborough Subway? Hint: it’s not just Toronto!

        • torontothegreat

          You’re kidding me, right?

          People in Mississuaga OR Pickering pay taxes in Toronto. The City of Toronto pays for the Gardiner. Almost entirely, the only people benefitting from it are people who don’t pay anything for it.

          Your Scarborough Subway argument is invalid, simply because there isn’t a Scarborough Subway and likely there won’t be.

          When Mississuaga and/or Pickering start contributing the amount of taxes provincially and federally that Toronto does (and yet we only get a fraction back) they can have a say in what we do with our own city.

  • Peter Peng

    This is an under pass, not a tunnel. You’re comparing apples to oranges; his option would allow a pretty boulevard above grade AND 6 lanes below grade. You misunderstood Paul.

    And if you read the SF article, it’s not so clear cut that this is the best option.

  • PeteyUW

    TOLL IT; use the $ for maintenance, improvements, and transit!