Toronto

John Tory continues last-minute push to sell Gardiner East hybrid option

Toronto Mayor John Tory continued his public push to sell the city on the so-called hybrid option for the Gardiner East this morning.

City council will begin debating future of Gardiner East on June 10

Mayor John Tory reiterated his stance that the hybrid option is 'not perfect' but is the 'most responsible choice' for Toronto. (David Donnelly/CBC)

Toronto Mayor John Tory continued his public push to sell the city on the so-called hybrid option for the Gardiner East this morning. 

Council will begin debating the future of the 1.7-km stretch of elevated expressway east of Jarvis Street tomorrow, and it's unclear which way the vote will go. 

In an interview with CBC's Metro Morning, Tory said he "has the responsibility to recommend the position that I think is in the best interest of the city overall."

"I ran in an election just six months ago. In that election, commuting times and congestion was a huge issue, on which I said to people, 'I won't make it any worse'."

In a CAA-sponsored speech at the downtown Empire Club yesterday afternoon, Tory repeatedly said that tearing down the Gardiner East would increase commute times by ten minutes each way. That figure, however, is cited a University of Toronto report that examined two alternative options for the expressway, neither of which reflects the options that council will begin debating this week. 

In a city report, staff found that about 75 per cent of commute times would be unchanged, while others would increase about three to five minutes per way. 

Tory also said this morning that he worries about the potential economic impacts tearing down the Gardiner East could have on the city — an estimated $37 million in lost productivity per year moving forward. That figure, however, is offset by development and employment opportunities generated by tearing down the elevated stretch of highway. 

Boulevard an 'idyllic notion'

The tear-down option would make way for an eight-lane boulevard connecting the remaining Gardiner Expressway to the Don Valley Parkway. Every living city planner has publicly endorsed this option as being more pedestrian friendly and allowing for better development of the waterfront. 

But Tory says that idea that a major boulevard would be better for people is a fantasy.

"When we talk about the boulevard, people have this idyllic notion of people sipping lattes on some tree-lined street," he told host Matt Galloway.

"It it was built, it's going to be a very busy, traffic-filled street. It's being presented as something that's going to be pedestrian friendly but I don't believe it will be."

The mayor added that he's not absolutely sure if has the votes in council, but he is confident the hybrid option will be approved. 

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