There’s been a lot of press about this lately, and I’ve actually changed my stance on the matter.
I’d like to hear from as many readers as possible however, as I’m curious to know what “solutions” people would propose…
I’m going to share a story with you all, that might be an out-of-place analogy, might lend some substance to the Gardiner discussion, or might just be a complete and utter over-share…
When I was 15-years-old, I had severe issues with acne.
I was, to be perfectly blunt “that guy” at your school that you all knew had it the worst of anybody, that you all felt bad for, and that you all thanked God wasn’t you.
I went for treatments (who knew the medication made people crazy??), and the doctors said right from the start: “It’s going to get worse, before it gets better.”
To me, that almost defeated the purpose.
I wanted it better NOW, not later. I didn’t want to go another day with things the way they were!
Why make it worse first? What kind of solution was that?
My doctors told me that they could find a band-aid solution, but it would slow down the overall process, and it would only ensure that it took longer, and was made far more difficult in the long-term. They told me, “Think about the long-term, you have your whole life ahead of you.” But all I could think about was the next few months, and getting rid of what ailed me. I fully supported the band-aid solution!
Sure enough, we went with the doctors’ plan (I guess you should listen to somebody with 40 years of medical training…) and things did, in fact, get worse before they got better. But looking back on it, this was the right call; the only call, and it represented the safest most effective way to deal with the problem.
You see where this is going, right?
Maybe that was a weird analogy; I don’t know. But upon reading a column in the Globe & Mail the other day, and seeing the line “It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” I immediately thought of my problems back in Grade-10 and how that line was practically my mantra.
The problems with the Gardiner Expressway can no longer be over-looked.
There’s been a half-dozen articles in the Globe and the Post in the past week, and suddenly, this is one again a hot-button topic.
From Paul Gauvreau’s article in The Globe & Mail on December 14th:
“New revelations of serious problems with Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway add urgency to the debate over what should be done with this structure. The ongoing chipping and patching of concrete can only be justified as a temporary stopgap until a long-term strategy for its future has been developed and implemented. Unfortunately, there has been very little progress. Given that the deficiencies now bring into question the ability of the structure to carry its specified loads, it would appear that the time to make tough decisions is indeed upon us. We need to make sure that, in our haste to formulate a plan, we can still find a way to make the right decisions.
A current estimate places the cost to repair the Gardiner at $505-million. This work is expected to halt deterioration and restore the expressway to an acceptable state of structural integrity. Although this price tag is high by any measure, the total cost of this course of action will be much higher. Once the repairs are complete, it will be necessary for the City of Toronto to commit to a program of regular preventive maintenance to ensure that future generations of taxpayers do not have to suffer through another round of costly and disruptive major repairs. The operating costs take on particular significance, given that much of the mess we’re facing can be directly attributed to a lack of adequate maintenance over the Gardiner’s 50-year life.”
That’s just an excerpt, however, I have to draw attention to this one line that came later in the article:
“Unfortunately, public agencies in Canada have had a disproportionate focus on minimizing risk. All other things being equal, the easiest way to accomplish this goal is to do the same thing over and over….This attitude is reflected in the current practice of selecting engineers for public works projects solely on the basis of lowest engineering fee.”
Mr. Gauvreau is not a Globe columnist, but rather a professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Toronto. If anybody is qualified to make such a statement, it would be he.
I used to think it was a ridiculous notion to tear down the Gardiner Expressway.
All I could think about was how often I use the highway in my excursions to the city’s west end, to show houses and condos, or to visit friends.
But in recent years, I have changed my tune.
I’m in favour of action that makes our city better in the long run, and I’m willing to take it on the chin in the short-term.
I’ve stated emphatically that we need to spend more money on TTC, roads, subways, and any and all method of transportation, even though I drive a car, and never take the TTC.
I’m in favour of higher property taxes, so long as it goes towards building subways – something I’ll never use.
I’d pay a “fee” to drive my car in the downtown car during the day, if regulations came into effect that limited cars from 9am – 5pm on weekdays, save for taxis, buses, delivery vehicles, and those people wishing to pay a “fee” for usage.
I would gladly pay higher personal income taxes if it meant putting money toward parks, sporting facilities, community centres, and other areas that keep Toronto’s youth busy, as I believe part of the way to keep them out of trouble is to keep them occupied. I don’t have kids, I don’t live in a high-crime area, and I’m not affected by the “problems” that go on in Scarborough or north of the city, but I am a human-being, a proud Torontonian, and in a position to contribute.
And as somebody that drives his/her car more than 99% of the population in Toronto, I’m in favour of taking down the Gardiner Expressway and rebuilding it, even if it makes my life hell for 3-4 years, because I think that’s the only long-term solution.
“It’s going to get worse, before it gets better.”
That’s the only logical, rational way of looking at the Gardiner Expressway.
As forhowtom implement the rebuild and/or renovation of the Gardiner, let’s just take it one step at a time.
Some city councillors are in favour of bringing in the private sector for help, or selling the Gardiner altogether.
Doug Ford showed his true colours yesterday, by agreeing with Adam Vaughan, and then opening his big-fat mouth and showing what a loaf he is:
“I’m glad that Councillor Vaughan is taking a page out of my playbook that I’ve been preaching for the last two years. Maybe he got hit over the head over the weekend, maybe a coconut fell on his head and he realized, ‘hey, the only way I can get things going …’ ” (he was cut off by one of his aids at this point)
What a class-act. A cynical Torontonian (aren’t we all?) would suggest that city council will fight and bicker about how to fix the Gardiner, as they fight and bicker about everything affecting Toronto, but let’s just cross our fingers…
I hope that this isn’t going to be yet another long, drawn-out process that takes years to even get started, and begins with political posturing.
Marcus Gee wrote last week:
“What Toronto needs is not fault-finding and blame games but hard information. Questioned on Wednesday about the expense of tearing down the Gardiner, the city’s deputy manager, John Livey, could only say that it would cost “a billion, two billion, three billion.” What we need to find out is how much the real cost would be and how that would compare to the cost of maintaining the expressway over the coming decades. The first step to that end should be to revive, and even expand, the aborted environmental assessment.”
A billion, two billion, three billion. Great.
That’s like a client asking me what their house is worth, and replying, “Five-hundred thousand, a million, one-point-five….I dunno.”
Mr. Gee is right – the city has to begin with the proper research and due diligence, before city councillors start doing what they do best: FIGHTING.
I feel as though city councillors are ready to line up and vote on the matter, and yet none of them have any facts to go on!
I pray that this won’t be another bike-lane flip-flop, subway-LRT debate, island-tunnel pipe-dream, or feris-wheel promise.
I’m ready to endure five years of construction and traffic mayhem, if it means our city is better in the long run.