Gardiner Falling - But at What Cost?
So the council report on the Gardiner has finally been made public. Amid much rejoicing from those who care about the waterfront, the report recommends tearing it down - or at least tearing down the Spadina to DVP section.
This is very good news, assuming council acts on it. Unfortunately, with the good comes a whole steaming heap of bad.
Along with the recommendation to tear down the Gardiner come two other recommendations, designed to ensure that the precious holy automobile driver won't be overly inconvenienced by the liberation of the waterfront. Firstly, it recommends that the Front St extension be built - a project that has been in the works for longer even than has the destruction of the Gardiner. Local residents fear that this will be costly and that itwill divert heavy traffic into their neighbourhoods.
Scary enough, but even worse is the proposal to build up Lakeshore Ave. Not content with having a giant blight in the air seperating the city from the waterfront, the report suggests moving that blight to ground-level. Lakeshore is to become, in the view of the report, a 10-lane behemoth across much of the city. In its worst-case scenario, this will create a virtual urban-freeway nearly impassable to pedestrians, and hazardous to cyclists.
I fully support tearing down the Gardiner Expressway. But if it is to be done, some compromises have to be made about Lakeshore. If the city insists on making it a 10-lane monster, there need to be rules about it: the centre lanes need to be streetcar ROWs; the outermost lanes must be made exclusively for cyclists; two of the remaining six lanes should be designated as HOV/motorcycle lanes; and there must be frequent cross-walks and wide pedestrian areas.
These cannot be negotiable - if they want 10 lanes, they need to make the lanes usable by everybody. Without those restrictions, Lakeshore will become a nightmare for anybody not in an SUV. With those suggestions, Lakeshore has a hope of truly becoming the 'grand avenue' that the report suggests, friendly to pedestrians, cyclists, and even cars.
Photo from TheStar.com
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