Gardiner Expressway: council votes in favour of hybrid option

WATCH ABOVE: Mayor John Tory gained enough support among Toronto city council for an east Gardiner hybrid, but at what cost? Mark McAllister has the details.

TORONTO – The Gardiner east hybrid option has been passed with a vote of 24-21 in favour. The removal option has been defeated with 19-26 vote at City Hall.

Former mayor and current city councillor Rob Ford was the only one to vote for keeping the Gardiner as is.

Toronto city council spent two days ahead of the vote discussing what to do with the eastern portion of the expressway.

“I think that people thought about this very, very carefully,” said Mayor John Tory after the vote. “I think we made a major step forward.”

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He said the day’s debate would have been very different if all the transit and infrastructure decisions and changes had been done when and as needed over the last few decades. With the city as is, the hybrid option was the only viable choice, said Tory.

“I think now, we had the debate we needed to have.”

He said he’s ready to sit down with those who opposed the hybrid option to work with them as best as possible, despite the differing viewpoints.

On Wednesday, council voted against sending the decision back to staff for more study on another option.

Councillor Jim Karygiannis suggested the expressway be buried, creating a tunnel under Lakeshore Boulevard at a cost of $2.5 billion.

WATCH ABOVE: Some hostile emotions were hanging over Toronto city hall Thursday as the Gardiner east debate raged on. Mark McAllister with the latest.

The motion would have delayed the decision for 60 days.

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The decision was between keeping the roadway as it is and fixing it, tearing down the expressway and replacing it with a street-level boulevard, or the hybrid option.

Counc. Janet Davis said earlier Thursday that tearing it down was the sustainable option.

“We know that that elevated expressway will fall apart and we’ll have to do something with it in another 30 to 50 years,” said Davis.

She wanted the space opened up, for the sake of the city.

WATCH: In the contentious debate over the future of the Gardiner Expressway, Mayor John Tory said that the hybrid option is the best for the city. He also mentioned the potential of a tunnel option.

“The waterfront secondary plan very clearly asks for, and we approved, building new communities on the waterfront, connecting the city to the waterfront,” said Davis. “A lot of those city-building objectives cannot be met if we have a highway, an elevated highway and a service road along the side of it.”

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She had predicted that the vote would be a close one.

“I’m very disappointed that the mayor could have had a win-win if we had delayed it to find some areas of compromise.”

Counc. Rob Ford defended his stance, keeping the roadway as is, saying the roadway is in need of “some minor repairs that have to be done.”

“I’m not voting for the hybrid and I’m not voting for the removal of it,” said Ford. “I’m sticking to the maintain, and the average person out there, when you talk to them, they agree with me.”

Mayor John Tory had been touting the hybrid option, which would entail rebuilding and tweaking what’s already there. It would only take down part of the expressway. Tory said tearing it down would minimize congestion and keep the city moving.

With files from Mark McAllister