I think I’m going to make a really great “crotchety, old man.”
Every time I read the newspaper, I get visibly upset. Everything in there bothers me.
And for the life of me, I can’t understand why anybody thinks that removing the Gardiner Expressway is good for the long-term health and viability of Toronto.
I wanted to talk about real estate today, and I didn’t want to touch this subject because it gets me so angry, but I guess I want to know what other people think…
That was the result of vote at City Hall today.
I’m absolutely astounded that twenty-one people think it’s a good idea to tear down the east portion of the Gardiner Expressway.
Where do I even start with this blog post?
Calm. Cool. Collect thoughts.
I suppose the very first discussion point here is this: “What is Toronto?”
I know that sounds too simplistic, but what do you think of, when you think, “Toronto?”
To the left-leaning residents, simpletons, and much of the political brain-trust at City Hall, Toronto is a happy-go-lucky town for families. Yes, families. That is the most-used word by any politician, anywhere.
In reality, Toronto is a metropolis. The Greater Toronto Area is home to close to seven million people, and the downtown core is the centre of it all.
Toronto isn’t small. It’s massive. It’s incredibly dense, and it’s growing out of control.
The delusions people have about the city of Toronto are clearly demonstrated when we talk about tearing down one of the few pieces of infrastructure we have in a city that has, quite possibly, the worst infrastructure of any city in Canada – relative to its population, of course.
My fear is that the twenty-one Toronto city councilors that voted against the “Hybrid Option” for the Gardiner are those that still think of Toronto as this nice, quiet little place north of the border, when in reality, it’s going to grow exponentially over the coming years.
Because the reality is – we don’t need to just keep the Gardiner Expressway, we need three more just like it! In the same way that we need more than just the Eglinton LRT, and its construction today defines the phrase, “way too little, way too late,” we could also use an 8-lane, underground parkway beneath the Lakeshore to help ease traffic in a city that’s exploding at the seams.
How about a lane of traffic in the sky while we’re at it? Seriously – the way Toronto is growing, and the way we’re running out of room on the ground, it’s not that bad an idea…
This insane idea that Toronto is a town for “families” was exemplified by the insane thinking of Pam McConnell, who is the city councilor for Ward 28 where the Gardiner is located, when she talked on Wednesday about how removing the Gardiner would allow an area for shops, restaurants, green space, and…….wait for it……a place for families to flock to!
Does anybody really think that an 8-lane super-highway is going to be lined with ice-cream parlours and gourmet cheese shops? And will families really seek out the former Gardiner Expressway on-ramp, now-turned fishing pond and water fountain?
One city councilor called it “pie in the sky thinking,” and I have to agree.
This isn’t a game of Sim City where you can start from scratch.
We have what we have, already.
And we have a city that is bursting at the seams as infrastructure has been ignored for decade after decade.
I refuse to accept the idea that repurposing the lands where the Gardiner Expressway is located will somehow inject life into the city, or add space for a roller-rink for kids.
And to those who call the Gardiner Expressway “unsightly” or a “blight,” or to those that suggest it’s “ruined the Waterfront,” that ship said a long, long time ago! The minute we allowed the Waterfront to be congested with condominiums was when the tide turned. And don’t think just because I sell condos for a living, that I wouldn’t have been fully in support of a long-term vision for a beautiful Toronto waterfront – one without condos. But the condos started coming in the 1990’s, and they never stopped.
Toronto will N-E-V-E-R have a “beautiful waterfront,” and isn’t the Gardiner Expressway sandwiched in between those waterfront condos and the other buildings (many of which are condos….) north of Lake Shore Boulevard anyways?
At a time when Toronto is about to host an event (the Pam Am Games) that will blissfully expose us as a shadow of a world-class city, with only enough infrastructure to support half of our population, you’d think that the city would be concerned with moving forward, and building for the future.
The city of Toronto is choking with congestion.
Our roads and highways are lacking, and our city transit is pathetic.
So why aren’t we building, rather than tearing down?
Another argument I refuse to accept is the cost.
People say, “It’s going to cost $919 Million to build this Hybrid option.”
So what? Is that a lot of money? Spread over how many years? And how many people live in Toronto?
The amazing part is – tearing down the Gardiner isn’t free! It’s going to cost $461 Million! So when people act as though $919 Million to build a Hybrid Gardiner is a lot, perhaps they think that this giant concrete highway can be removed by waving a magic wand?
That’s what I want to think about.
What is best for the long-term success of the City of Toronto?
And let’s not let those with pathetically-transparent agendas weigh in, either.
Remember THIS article in the Globe & Mail last week?
A “coalition of influential developers and business leaders” oppose rebuilding the Gardiner Expressway.
From the article:
“The heads of 14 businesses – mostly developers who, between them, own or control 51 hectares of the city’s waterfront – wrote a letter Friday urging the mayor to rethink his position on the Gardiner Expressway at city council next week. The group, which calls itself the “CityBuilders”, wants the portion of the Gardiner east of Jarvis removed.”
Oh, yeah, they’re not pushing their own agenda at all, are they?
These guys own all the land down there, and removing the Gardiner would probably only make them hundreds of millions of dollars.
The article continues:
“Either we’re going to be a great city that is a beacon for the 21st century or we’re going to take a step backward to the 1960s or the midpoint of the last century,” said Alfredo Romano, president of real estate developer Castlepoint Numa, in an interview.
“All of us feel quite strongly that the boulevard option will present the most accessible and most user-friendly waterfront and present an opportunity for us to remove what we consider to be a significant blight.”
I want to smack this guy.
A “blight,” he calls it?
“Accessible and user-friendly waterfront?”
That’s industrial wasteland down there. It would take a thousand years to clean up some of that sludge that exists just south of the Lake Shore Boulevard, at Cherry.
I’m a capitalist by nature, but I don’t know if I could do what this guy did – and put my name on that nonsense. He, along with his other “coalition members,” stand to make obscene piles of money if the Gardiner is removed, zoning regulations are changed, and they’re allowed to do as they see fit.
And what’s to stop them from just building more condos?
Will these condos have ice cream parlours, gourmet cheese shops, and roller-rinks for families?
So here we have fourteen business owners, who stand to gain massively from the Gardiner’s removal, and we’re, for some reason, listening to what they want?
Yet another argument I refuse to accept: “Removing the Gardiner will only add a few short minutes for a few drivers.”
I’ve read the reports – on how removing the Gardiner might add 3-4 minutes of commute time. Where the hell is that coming from?
It’s like “legal experts,” as my father always told me: the defence will pay an “expert” to say what they want him to say, and the prosecution will pay an “expert” to say the complete opposite.
I rather enjoyed this in Wednesday’s Toronto Sun:
So there’s my expert to refute the people who suggest “it really won’t make that much a difference.”
I guess the lefties don’t ever drive?
So let’s tear down the “unsightly, blight” that is the Gardiner, and allow “families” to “flock to” the area where the Gardiner currently stands?
A Global TV reporter called this debate “left versus right,” and at first I thought he was wrong. But when I see people suggesting “a few drivers will add a few minutes to their commute,” I have to wonder what would happen if a fat, right-wing mouth was opened:
Maybe something like this:
“Well, you know what else is ‘unsightly?’ The homeless. They’re a ‘blight.’ Let’s remove them. And you know what else? If we were to cut off all social assistance to low-income families, then a few people might have a few questions to answer to at that blight of a dinner table.”
Well, perhaps the 14 land-bankers that own 51 hectares of real estate south of the Gardiner can help those homeless and low-income families?
Two ideas that have been absolutely panned:
1) Selling or leasing the Gardiner (Josh Colle)
2) Erecting toll roads for non-Torontonians (James Pasternak)
Any opponents to the first option will simply scream “407! 407! 407!”
But citizens have short memories.
You’d have thought that all Tim Hudak had to do to win the last provincial election was scream “Gas Plant! Ornge Scandal! Deleted Emails!”
Sure, leasing the 407 for a billion years was probably a mistake, and CPPIB and Cintra are laughing all the way to the bank (and their kids, and their kids’ kids will be laughing as well…). But the private sector has been, and always will be, more efficient than the public sector, and the ongoing problems with maintaining the Gardiner surely would be lessened.
As for toll roads, I’ve always thought it merits consideration.
Every morning, residents of Oakville, Hamilton, Burlington, St, Catharines, Niagara Falls, Brampton, and other areas, drive east along the Gardiner, into Toronto, and yet they pay no taxes here.
They use the Gardiner Expressway, but they don’t pay for it.
We pay for it. Torontonians. And many Torontonians don’t use it.
I’m positive, based on our feeble political track record at the municipal level, that city council would find a way to completely mess this up. I can just imagine the long line for toll payments…
But try telling the public that yet another pick of their pocket is good for them, and they’ll strongly disagree. Here’s a poll from the Toronto Sun:
Anyways, we could debate this all day.
And if it’s up to Pam McConnell, who says that she’ll “take every legal step” to fight the Hybrid Gardiner rebuild, then we’ll end up bickering about this for years.
Isn’t that why we have such poor public transit? Because we couldn’t agree on what to build, for years on end, so nothing got built?
I suppose in the end, everybody has an opinion. And some are wild – like this guy who commented on a BlogTO article:
Now we’re going to tear down ALL of the Gardiner?
Then where will we drive?
Oh, wait. Maybe this guy wants us all to ride bikes?
Perhaps that is the answer for this quaint, little town called “Toronto”…