Oct 27, 2023

By Jane Brown

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The governing Ford Progressive Conservatives at Queen’s Park are reportedly open to uploading the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway as part of a new funding deal for Toronto.

The Toronto Star says multiple unnamed sources have confirmed the Tories are considering the option of taking ownership of both of Toronto’s highways.

But these same sources also caution that nothing has been finalized and other forms of financial assistance are still under consideration in the complex and ongoing negotiations, which Premier Doug Ford and Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow launched in mid-September.

Other options are also said to be on the table, including the province taking on a greater share of TTC operating and capital costs as well as helping to fund the city’s surging costs for homeless shelters.

Matti Siemiatycki, director of the Infrastructure Institute at the University of Toronto, said a highway upload would be a “a big deal.

He said the highways, in particular the Gardiner with its elevated sections, are huge money pits. Queen’s Park taking responsibility for them would be an important tangible step toward healing the city’s finances, and show that the city and province are serious about working together to tackle the problem.

In an October 18th interview with the Star, Chow said “of course” there was a valid case for the province to upload the Gardiner and DVP.

“It makes no sense that 404 doesn’t belong to Markham (but) you come a bit south to DVP, all of a sudden the city of Toronto pays for it. On the Gardiner, how many Mississauga drivers are coming in for the Blue Jays or a Drake show?” she said.

Asked if the province can be persuaded to upload highways, Chow would only say, “We shall see.”

Both the Gardiner and DVP are more than 60 years old and major financial drains. The city has budgeted $1.9 billion in its 10-year capital plan to rehabilitate the 18-kilometre Gardiner, and work to rebuild its eastern elevated segment is expected to come to at least $1.2 billion, including money already spent.

If the province did take over the Toronto highways, it would also likely spell the end of Mayor Chow’s controversial campaign promise to rebuild the Gardiner connection to the Don Valley Parkway as a ground-level boulevard. City council’s plan is to build a new elevated connection, relocated at considerable expense to free up more space for waterfront redevelopment.

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