Public Health Report Prefers Gardiner Removal
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Public Health Report Prefers Gardiner Removal

Toronto's Medical Officer of Health identifies eight ways in which removing the eastern portion of the expressway will benefit residents' health.

A new report from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David McKeown, prefers removing the Gardiner east of Jarvis rather than preserving it with Mayor Tory’s hybrid option.

McKeown’s report comes on the heels of Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat’s public statement on Friday, in which she strongly endorsed removing the 1.7-kilometre stretch of the Gardiner east of Jarvis in favour of installing a boulevard similar to University Avenue.

Today’s public health report will be debated at the Board of Health meeting on June 1, and considered as part of council’s Gardiner deliberation at the June 10 council meeting.

McKeown’s report [PDF] favours the removal—or boulevard option, as councillors like Shelley Carroll (Ward 33, Don Valley East) are framing it—in almost every respect. His report says that removal represents the greatest health benefit or least negative impact in eight categories, including: pedestrian movements, road safety, planning objectives, urban realm, built form, social and health impacts, natural environment impacts, and local employment. The hybrid option, which preserves the status quo and adds some on-ramps, is preferred in the global and regional competitiveness category; the two options tie in two other categories.

The report represents another obstacle for John Tory’s administration to overcome in a Gardiner fight that looks increasingly difficult. Tory staked out his position in favour of the hybrid option in advance of May’s Public Works and Infrastructure meeting. But local community groups, urbanists, and some developers have come out in support of the removal option, which is half a billion dollars less expensive over its lifespan, and could unlock more economic and public realm opportunities for the city.

Some councillors, like James Pasternak (Ward 10, York West) have floated the idea of implementing road tolls to help pay for the $919-million hybrid option, but it is unclear whether that idea enjoys broad support on council.