The concrete jungle that is undeneath the Gardiner Expressway.  Photo from www.civ.utoronto.ca

It's Time to Drive or Get Off the Lot.

The Gardiner Expressway needs at least $87 million for repairs to its western segment. With the city in a buget crisis, and the McGuinty government refusing to pay its share for a road that is used as much by non-Torontonians as it is Toronto denizens, some councillors are calling for 'use at own risk' signs to be put up along the freeway. Perhaps the time has finally come (although some would argue that the time came a decade or more ago) for council to sit down and take a long serious look at the Gardiner, and to decide what they want it to be - or not be.

Toronto is a city that lost its connection with its waterfront long before any of us were alive - that's how the Gardiner was allowed to be built - shimmering concrete wall that it is - in the first place. While claims then that it is what seperates the city from the water must be taken with a grain of salt, there is good reason to believe that it - or the Lakeshore Boulevard underneath it - is impeding the progress of Torontonians to get back in touch with their beachfront.

There are lots of proposals to what to do with the Gardiner - from spending billions of dollars to change it from a bridge to a tunnel; to gutting Lakeshore Blvd and building retail and residential underneath it; to just tearing it down.

What is beyond question though, is that something must be done - Toronto can ill afford to keep paying millions of dollars on repairs for a psychological barrier to our own city. Build it up, build it under, tear it down; just do something with it. The status quo has proven to be unacceptable, unaffordable, and unwanted by all levels of government (thus the fight over who has to pay). Bring us back our waterfront, and let us choose the future of our city.

And if that means the concrete pillars and walls of the Gardiner need to tumble like a modern day Jericho, so be it. I'll be there, blowing my horn in celebration.


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