gardiner expressway

Groups calling out the high cost of rebuilding part of Toronto's crumbling Gardiner

Dozens of community groups in Toronto are calling on the City to provide transparency on all the extra costs and lost revenues associated with the rebuilding of the elevated link of the Gardiner East Expressway

In a letter penned to Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie and City Councillors, 40 community groups called on the City to reveal the full go-forward costs associated with the Gardiner East project, which they allege could potentially exceed $1 billion. 

The coalition, called Gardiner East Transparency (GET) states that the public has a right to know the updated construction costs and lost revenues that could result from additional land sales, development charges, and propery taxes. 

According to the coalition, these calls for transparency are especially urgent during a time when "Toronto's $1.5 billion budget shortfall is straining programs to address affordable housing, TTC operations, and the worsening climate crisis." 

In 2015, City Council voted in favour of a "hybrid" option that would move the Gardiner 100 metres to the north and rebuilt from the Don Valley Parkway (DVP) to Jarvis Street. 

The same year, an option to tear down the eastern section of the Gardiner and replace it with an eight-lane Lake Shore Boulevard failed in a vote of 19-26 at City Council. 

The project currently represents about 14 per cent of the budget in city's overall 10-year capital plan, according to the executive director of the city's Financial Planning Division

"The Gardiner thwarts action on a long list of desperately needed programs to build an equitable, healthy, climate-friendly city," said Albert Koehl, an organizer of GET.

"The least City Hall can do is to provide a full report on the updated costs and lost revenues of the Gardiner East before signing any more contracts." 

"When City Council narrowly approved this project eight years ago it did so against the advice of City staff, which recommended a ground level connection between the Gardiner and the DVP," said Peter Miasek of Transport Action Ontario (TAO). 

"That was seen as costing less, being better for public health, and freeing up additional lands, while having little impact on travel times for the three per cent of commuters going downtown along the Gardiner East each morning."

The coalition points to several potential savings and lost revenues, which total an estimated $1 billion. These include one-time construction costs ($650 million), lost land sale revenues and development charges of an estimated $450 million, and higher long-term maintenance for the Gardiner. 

"An up-to-date assessment of the extra costs and foregone revenues is vital," said Lyn Adamson, Co- Chair of ClimateFast. 

"The Gardiner East project reflects yesterday's thinking while undermining our Net Zero by 2040 strategy. We need a plan that draws people out of their cars and onto efficient, affordable transit and to walking and cycling."

The calls for transparency come ahead of the City's Infrastructure and Environment Committee (IEC) meeting on March 20. 

Lead photo by

Jack Landau

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