Tag Archives: Gardiner Expressway

What side of history is Saskatoon on?

Thought provoking piece in the Toronto Star by Christopher Hume about John Tory and the Gardiner Expressway

The Gardiner, a relic of an earlier age, dates from a time when the car was king. Today, the world is a different place. No question cars are here to stay, but in the decades since the Gardiner was constructed, we have learned that city-building is about more than taming traffic congestion. Successful cities manage to balance the two — cars and people — without sacrificing one on the altar of the other.

Ironically, Toronto has arrived at this point because of its chronic unwillingness to spend the money needed to keep the aging expressway standing. Now Tory would have us spend an extra $500 million to keep it standing.

In the meantime, urban highways around the world are disappearing as cities liberate themselves from the shackles of the car. But old habits die hard, nowhere moreso than in Toronto, where car dependency remains enshrined, amber-like, in public policy.

Like the Gardiner he defends, Tory, tragically, is a relic. The Toronto he imagines he represents no longer exists. He and his supporters seem not to have noticed that the city is transformed; people in their thousands now live in areas once given over to industry and then forgotten. The waterfront is a perfect example; the long-neglected precinct is now being turned into a series of mixed-use neighbourhoods that have attracted more than $4 billion in (private-sector) investment with much more to come.

“This is a pivotal moment in the history of Toronto,” argues Toronto architect and planner Michael Kirkland. “It is an opportunity to correct the devastating mistakes made during the mid-20th-century industrial era. We have the chance to reconnect the city to its greatest natural asset, Lake Ontario. Not taking down the Gardiner would be seen by our descendants as the great mistake of our age.

“This is a transportation issue, and we should focus on other forms of transportation. Congestion can only be resolved through a proliferation of transportation options. Increasing automobile access won’t improve congestion; indeed, it will only make it worse.”

Meanwhile Saskatoon prepares to add a freeway, highway, two three four (maybe five) bridges, turn residential streets into arterials, and keeps on building low density neighbourhoods like there is no tomorrow while doing nothing on the downtown and north downtown plans. 

Where have I seen this before

From the National Post

The City of Toronto appears to have “starved and neglected” the Gardiner Expressway by spending millions of dollars below what had been budgeted for rehabilitation over eight of the last 14 years, the chairman of the public works and infrastructure committee charges.

The largest recorded difference is in 2009 — the same year a study commenced on potentially dismantling a section of the aging roadway — when the city allocated $20.3-million in funding, but only spent $3.2-million, according to a tally of budget versus actual expenditures dug up by finance staff, and obtained by the National Post.

I know all cities do this; Saskatoon included but it’s frustrating.  We build infrastructure but then have no appetite to maintain it properly and then we have to deal with it falling down all over the place.  Preventative maintenance isn’t sexy but look at the bills once they come due, they can be overwhelming.  Saskatoon is looking at about a billion dollars in unfunded maintenance (which is for those keeping track, about a 1000% mill rate increase).  We needed probably a 3% levy instead of the 1% one that we got just to keep our current road and bridge conditions.  All across the country we just keeping digging a bigger and bigger hole.