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May 2009
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Gardiner East Consultations

Yesterday I wrote about Toronto’s “ring road” or as I called it ‘Toronto’s Box Road.’ It got me thinking and I decide to a more thorough read of the website and provide some thoughts/ideas on what is presented on the Future of the Gardiner East.

In moving to be more environmental WATERFRONToronto set up an online consultation tool. Here it lists the Study Goals and Design Principles, Alternative Concepts, Criteria Groups and Consultation Approach. I decided to spend sometime this morning going through the material and reading some of the comments.

The Triple Bottom Line Approach
For years we based our well-being and growth on the economic bottom line; a company, a project is viable if it is economically profitable. We have evolved since then; Triple Bottom Line (TBL) looks at the project, business from three perspectives, social, environmental and economic.

I decided I’d examine the Gardiner East project from the TBL perspective.

Study Goals and Design Principles
As stated on the website “The Gardiner Expressway EA and Urban Design Study has specific goals and related study principles that will be used to develop and evaluate the design alternatives.”

The goals are:
Goal 1: Revive the Waterfront;
Goal 2: Reunite the City with the Lake;
Goal 3: Redistribute Traffic and Rebalance Modes of Travel;
Goal 4: Restore the Waterfront Environment; and,
Goal 5: Reconcile Long Term Costs and Benefits.

Someone suggested that the 6th goal should be “Contributing to the long-term goal of shifting transportation flows from cars to transit, cycling, etc,” but I think that is captured already in goal 3.

From the TBL perspective I think these goals are unfairly waited towards the social benefits. The first three goals are aimed at satisfying the social aspects. Goal 4 does capture the environmental aspect and perhaps the strategies of shifting modes of travel of goal 3 will also contribute to the environmental aspect.

What I think is really ignored with these goals is the economic aspect. Downtown Toronto is an economic hub. I think there is need for an additional goal to address the economic aspect of this problem. I propose to add another goal (and in keeping with ‘R’ theme)

Goal 6: Retain the robust and diverse economic activity of Toronto

Alternative Concepts
Like any good policy the authors came up with alternative concepts for the Gardiner East.

  • Do nothing
  • Replace the Gardiner East with a different type of elevated expressway or tunnel
  • Improve the existing elevated expressway, and create a better urban environment underneath the Gardiner
  • Remove the elevated expressway and instead develop a street-level connection

Overall I think that the third alternative is the best solution since it can fairly address all the goals and design principles including the 6th one I proposed as well as addressing the TBL.

Criteria Groups
The criteria groups were broken down into four sections two social aspects, Urban Design and Transportation and Infrastructure, and the Environmental and Economic Aspects. The chart below summarizes what is on the website.


I think the criteria groups did a good job at capturing what was set out in the goals and alternative concepts. I do think that again that the existing local business infrastructure was missed, goal 6 that I proposed.

Under the Economic aspects I think the following should be added “Local Business: maintain and grow the operations of business and industry.”

Consultation Approach
The final criteria for evaluating and sharing information on this project is the consultation approach. WATERFRONToronto has considered and is employee the following.

  • Stakeholder Workshops
  • Public Forums
  • Stakeholder Advisory Committee
  • Web-based Consultations
  • Face-to-face Meetings
  • First Nations Consultations
  • Input Management and Reporting
  • Notice of Study Completion

With the last set of public information centers this past week look for more comments and updates on the project to be posted in the coming weeks.

Personally, I don’t think the Gardiner Expressway is an ‘eyesore.’ If it was revitalized and refurbished it could be a landmark piece of Toronto. Structures can be elegant and sophisticated and provide the necessary infrastructure to efficiently move commuters.


Comment from sasha
Time May 4, 2009 at 7:42 pm

just posted my thoughts on goal 6 at