Toronto city council narrowly approved the mayor's "hybrid" plan for the eastern section of the Gardiner Expressway on Thursday afternoon, a decision that will leave most of the elevated highway in place. 

Council voted 24-21 in favour of the so-called hybrid plan for the eastern section of the Gardiner Expressway, which runs from Jarvis Street to the Don Valley Parkway. Mayor John Tory, who has been the biggest proponent of the plan, was happy with the result despite the slim margin of victory.

"It puts the people of the city first. It puts the whole city first," Tory said of the decision.

Tory thanked councillors for their work during a "difficult" vote as he spoke with reporters after the vote. 

Toronto Gardiner Expressway East

Much of the eastern section of the Gardiner Expressway will remain standing after council approved the hybrid option on Thursday night. (Matt Llewellyn/CBC)

But while Tory praised council, the Gardiner vote was that of a fractured council, with almost every suburban councillor voting in favour of the hybrid option and all downtown councillors voting for the teardown.

The decision also goes against chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat's recommendation, as well as that of the city's medical officer of health, David McKeown. 

Coun. Pam McConnell, who represents the ward where the 1.7 km stretch of eastern Gardiner in question stands, says she expects the community "will take every legal step" to fight the hybrid plan.

Construction work on the hybrid Gardiner isn't set to start until 2018 at the earliest.

McConnell, who had backed a full tear-down, said while her side lost the vote the slim margin does matter.

"When you have opposition like this, it's major," she said.

Earlier council elected not to remove the eastern portion of the Gardiner Expressway in a 26-19 vote.

Council approved several other motions, including one asking staff to study implementing tolls on the expressway, one to study the possibility of turning the Gardiner into a tunnel and one to upload the highway to the province.  

A motion to maintain the eastern Gardiner was defeated 44-1, with only Coun. Rob Ford supporting it.

Other ideas have been to sell the expressway or bury it.

What you need to know about the hybrid option

  • Maintains elevated stretch of the Gardiner Expressway west of the Don Valley Parkway.

  • The elevated deck would need to be replaced.

  • Existing on and off ramps east of the Don River that extend to Logan Avenue would be demolished.

  • East of the Don River, Lake Shore Boulevard East would be reconstructed into a six-lane, tree-lined boulevard.

  • Drivers would be able to get on or off the Gardiner on new ramps built between the Don River and Cherry Street.

  • Construction would take about six years total; up to a year and a half of road detours would be required.

  • Ninety per cent of commuter trip times would remain more or less unchanged but some trips from the east will  take an estimated three to five minutes longer than if the Gardiner remained unchanged.

  • Cost: About $414 million up front in capital costs and $505 million for operations and maintenance over the anticipated 100-year lifecycle.‚Äč