Toronto’s budget chief Mike Del Grande moved a motion to resume the environmental assessment on the possible tear-down of the Gardiner Expressway.
But that’s not to say that Del Grande, a longtime opponent of plans to tear down the Gardiner Expressway, has changed his tune.
Del Grande said the environmental assessment, which was halted early in Mayor Rob Ford’s term, should be completed as a way to take some of the partisan bite out of the debate on the future of the elevated highway.
“I’m all for a fair and reasonable review and an environmental assessment – I am,” said Del Grande, at Tuesday’s budget committee meeting to finish off the city’s 2013 budget before sending it to executive committee. “But it just seemed no matter who is in power, left and right, one side is suspicious of the other. There’s this notion that in order to have our wonderful lakefront we’ve got to tear down the Gardiner. That was when the buzzword was the ‘war on the car.’ One of the viewpoints was that you make it so difficult to drive that you can’t drive.”
Del Grande made the comments after Toronto councillors went over a briefing note, explaining how it was that the environmental assessment approved under Mayor David Miller was effectively halted after Mayor Rob Ford was elected, without council’s approval.
According to the briefing note, the environmental assessment first came up in March of 2011, when the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee chair asked the deputy city manager to draft a letter detailing the implications of canceling the environmental assessment.
The letter was to have been submitted to Executive Committee but was not.
In 2011, Waterfront Toronto re-allocated the remainder of the funding for the environmental assessment to deal with other issues: notably, George Brown, Queens Quay and East Bayfront Revitalization Projects.
Councillors who had supported the original plan to tear down the eastern portion of the Gardiner Expressway raised questions as to why council wasn’t informed, and as to whether council would even be able to decide to tear the Gardiner down.
Toronto’s 2013 budget includes $500 million in its capital budget to repair the crumbling elevated highway.