Frequently Asked Questions

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Environmental Assessment or EA is a decision-making process used to promote good environmental planning by assessing the potential impacts of certain activities or projects on the environment before construction takes place. In Ontario, environmental impacts can include ecological, social, cultural or economic changes. The EA for the Gardiner Expressway is an “Individual” Environmental Assessment. This process is more detailed than other EAs (referred to as “streamlined” or “class” EAs) and is usually done for very large projects. This process is defined by the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act. Learn more about Environmental Assessments here. For the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency Web site please visit:
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The study area includes the easternmost portion of the Gardiner Expressway. This is the 2.4 kilometre section of road east of Jarvis Street to approximately Logan Avenue.

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Environmental Assessment (EA) work is undertaken within the approved study framework set out in the Terms of Reference (ToR), which provide flexibility to consider other alternative solutions that may arise through the consultation process. As identified in the ToR, study alternatives for the Gardiner East EA include:

  1. Maintain the elevated expressway
  2. Improve the urban fabric while maintaining the existing expressway
  3. Replace with a new above or below grade expressway
  4. Remove the elevated expressway and build a new boulevard
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The alternatives are: maintain, improve, replace and remove. Maintain is simply the process of keeping it as is and performing the necessary annual maintenance;  while improve considers how to keep the existing elevated structure, but look at options to enhance it. Replacement involves the construction of a new above- or below-grade expressway, while remove would see the removal of the Gardiner East, to be replaced with a new boulevard.

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On Thursday, June 11, 2015 Toronto City Council voted in favour of the "hybrid" option as the preferred alternative for the Gardiner East Environmental Assessment. View the full decision history, as well as reports prepared by staff and consultants, here.

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Following direction from the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee of Toronto City Council, an additional hybrid option that combined the maintain and replace alternatives was prepared to preserve expressway linkage and functionality between the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway, as well as:

  • Re-decking of the existing elevated expressway east of Jarvis Street;
  • Re-decking of existing Gardiner-Don Valley Parkway ramps;
  • Removal of about 750 metres (eastbound lanes) and 850 metres (westbound lanes) of the existing Gardiner on/off ramps west of Logan Avenue;
  • Addition of two new ramps (two lanes each) in the Keating precinct:
  • about 470 metres of new westbound on-ramp; and
  • about 425 metres of new eastbound off-ramp;
  • Realignment of Lake Shore Boulevard from Cherry Street to Don River; and
  • Construction of a new multi-use pathway, as well as some pedestrian and intersection improvements.

For more background about the hybrid option, click here.

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The following goals were developed to provide guidance for the project, these can be found in the EA Terms of Reference.

Goal #1: Revitalize the Waterfront, including:

  • Urban design excellence
  • Create tourist destinations
  • Rejuvenate underutilized and derelict lands
  • Amenities for local and regional users
  • Build on existing plans
  • Opportunity for city-building

Goal #2: Reconnect the City with the Lake, including

  • Create connections for downtown, City and region to the waterfront
  • Connect new waterfront communities
  • Attractive and connected public realm

Goal #3: Balance Modes of Travel, including

  • Balance social, economic, and environmental benefits
  • Maintain continuity for local residents, commuters, freight, and regional travelers
  • Integrate planned transit
  • Manage transport supply and demand

Goal #4: Achieve Sustainability, including

  • Commit to sustainability
  • Contribute to development that has a positive impact
  • Complement and enhance waterfront  environmental naturalization initiatives
  • Promote social engagement, reduction of  GHGs, and public awareness of environmental issues
  • Integrate ecology with city design

Goal #5: Create Value, including

  • Plan and design for positive net value creation
  • Capture value for public sector
  • Maximize net economic and environmental benefits
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Urban Design, Transportation & Infrastructure, Environment and Economics are the four lenses that provided the structure for the evaluation of the alternatives in the EA.

Transportation and Infrastructure Lens – focuses on accommodating person-trip activity and non-discretionary vehicular trip-making including goods movement and through travel. Addresses potential effects on other infrastructure, including utilities and rail facilities, and issues relating to project constructability.

Urban Design Lens – focuses on the creation of opportunities for improved urban form and improved or new public realm/open space.

Environment Lens – focuses on the minimization of negative effects on the environment (social, cultural and natural) and natural environment enhancement opportunities.

Economics Lens – focuses on achieving a balance of project costs with project financial benefits that could include increased land values and benefits to the economy.

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The City performs a number of maintenance and rehabilitation activities every year on the Gardiner Expressway.  Over the past decade, the City has spent nearly $75 million on Gardiner repairs and maintenance.  Starting in 2013, the City has embarked on an extensive rehabilitation plan for maintenance of the roadway.

Keeping the expressway in a state of good repair is critical.  The roadway is a key element of the city's transportation system which sees people and goods travelling in and out of the city every day. That's why Toronto council has approved about $900 million be allocated for roadway repairs over the next decade.

Between Jarvis Street and the Don Roadway, the Gardiner Expressway is the subject of an EA study examining options for the expressway and Lake Shore Boulevard. As a result, staff is recommending that the originally planned rehabilitation is postponed until the EA is completed and its conclusions are approved by City Council. In the interim, some urgent repairs will be completed in 2013 and this section will be regularly inspected by City engineers.

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You can get involved in whatever way is most convenient and comfortable for you -- there are many ways to make yourself heard. Check this website often to find out about upcoming opportunities to work together in person. Also, explore our online participation area of the site.  We hope you will share your ideas and opinions about improving our City!