Toronto city council is moving closer to a final decision about the future of the eastern end of the Gardiner Expressway. 

Gardiner Expressway

Coun. Jaye Robinson said the city is facing a 'once-in-a-lifetime' decision about what to do with the Gardiner Expressway, which was built in the 1950s. (Jamie Strashin/CBC)

On Wednesday, city staff will present three options for the 2.4-kilometre section of the elevated highway from Jarvis Street to Logan Avenue. 

Coun. Jaye Robinson, who chairs the public works committee, said details about the three options will be spelled out at Wednesday's technical briefing. 

The city will then hold public consultations on Wednesday and Monday laying out all three options in detail. They include: 

  • Remove and replace the Gardiner with a street-level boulevard. This is the cheapest option but would slow down drivers. It's believed this is the option preferred by city staff.
  • Maintain the Gardiner as is. This would cause the least amount of disruption but could be wasteful given that the highway is near the end of its expected life span and the city spends millions a year maintaining it. 
  • A third option that would create a new connection to the Don Valley Parkway. Reports published Tuesday suggest this option will cost more than $900 million. Few details about this plan have been made public and Robinson refused to provide more details when asked about it on Tuesday. 

The detailed options released Wednesday will not include a preferred staff option. That will come later when city staff prepare a final report to committee. If approved in committee, the long-term solution for the Gardiner will go to council for a final decision in June. 

Built in the mid-1950s, the Gardiner Expressway has become a maintenance burden for the city. Chunks of concrete have fallen away from the elevated highway multiple times over the past few years and critics say the highway is an eyesore and seals off the city from Lake Ontario. 

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime decision and we need to be sure that we get it right," said Robinson. "Any decision we make will be with an eye to minimizing the impact on how we get around while ensuring we unlock the incredible opportunities on our waterfront. It's a balance."