codeblueto

CodeBlueTO's History and a Model for Activism

Paula Fletcher stood up in the council chamber as the last speaker on item EX 9.6, a ‘consensus’ motion on Toronto’s Port Lands. As the local councillor for the Port Lands, Fletcher had been particularly busy for the past three weeks. In that time, City Hall- and the city at large- had become embroiled in a debate as to the best vision for Toronto’s Port Lands.
An undeveloped former industrial site close to the size of Toronto’s downtown core, the Port Lands was the apple of Rob and Doug Ford’s eye. Located on Toronto’s eastern waterfront, they knew it could attract a substantial amount of money if sold to developers immediately, and this money could then be used to balance the operating deficit, pay down city debt or eliminate the land transfer tax.
It was Doug Ford’s job to get this done, to muscle through Waterfront Toronto, the agency with the long-term plan and the authority. At the same time he had to convince Council and Torontonians this was the right thing. With slicked back hair, playful banter and the ability to put forward a vision, the older Ford brother comes across as a consummate salesman. Yet there he sat in front of Fletcher, leaning back in his chair and subdued. In what was supposed to be his triumphant day, Ford didn’t say a word on the item.
Fletcher, on the other hand, made sure to mark the moment. Dressed in a light blue suit and sporting a sharp navy button on her lapel, she gave context, “This is a Toronto moment and this is a Jane Jacobs city”.
While stopping the Ford Port Lands vision likely won’t share the same historical importance as Jacobs and Friends defeating the Spadina Expressway, here too was a group of highly engaged, vocal and organized constituents. Sitting behind Fletcher in the audience were a group of activists calling themselves CodeBlueTO, the name scrawled across Fletcher’s button.
As much as the Port Lands was a story about the Ford Team’s governance style or the Mushy Middle finding its backbone, there was something else. It’s a story of citizens successfully voicing their message, capturing the attention of politicians, and bringing them to their feet.


Ears to the Ground, Constant Vigilance
Cindy Wilkey knew she was going to be contacted imminently. For months she had feared this day was coming, and it was right around the corner. A lawyer and long-time advocate for the LowerDonLands and PortLands area that she calls home, Wilkey had heard troubling news through the grapevine.
Back in April, she knew something was going on as soon as Doug Ford accused Waterfront Toronto of being a ‘boondoggle’. When she received advance notice on Thursday, August 25 (see timeline here) that there would be an announcement about Waterfront Toronto from City Hall, she knew it was going to be bad and had a rough outline of what it was going to be.

When the notice went up on the City Hall website at 4:15 on the Friday before a long weekend, Wilkey was stunned by the breadth of the recommendations. From the transfer of power from the arms-length Waterfront Toronto to the city-run Toronto Port Lands Corporation to the cost critique of the Don River naturalization, everything involved in the Port Lands was under siege.
Since the Ford plan wasn’t a full-fledged surprise, Wilkey had a number of people to speak with who were paying as much attention as her. For instance, there was Dennis Findlay, a retired baker had taken an interest in the waterfront in 2005 when Toronto was considering a World Expo bid which would have an impact on the Port Lands.
A talkative and energetic man, Findlay had embraced city planning, engineering and the waterfront over the six years of his involvement with consultation and development plans.
The passion continued for Findlay as Ford’s April comments came. A group of engaged waterfront activists arranged periodic meetings to ensure they shared information and stayed on top of the latest developments. The meetings with other individuals like Wilkey, Julie Beddoes and John Wilson made him ready to go when the Ford motion came, “When we became aware of the fact the Mayor had his eyes on the Port Lands, we got on our high horse,” he said over the phone. “They were going to have to take our hard work over our dead bodies”.
The hard work Findlay spoke of came from other sources too. Two months before the Ford Vision, Toronto academics Gene Desfor and Jennefer Laidley had co-edited Re-Shaping Toronto’s Waterfront, a collection of essays and articles from University of Toronto Press. Both Desfor and Laidley had been experts in the Toronto waterfront for a long time, in everything from its history and environmental impact to the socio-political responses to it.
When Desfor returned from his AlgonquinPark camping trip over the long weekend to find the Waterefront turned upside down, he saw it as a dangerous idea from a hostile administration, something he warned about on Metro Morning promoting the book in June. Laidley adds, “When the report first came out we were horrified. We had heard something like that was in the works but to see it on paper was horrifying”.
Between Wilkey, Findlay, Desfor, Laidley and others, there were a good number of Waterfront knowledge experts with important things to say. But to combat Doug Ford’s ‘horrifying’ vision and Lyle Lanley ways, they would need to amplify their voice.
Finding A Framework, Making Voices Heard


Laurence Lui knew Wilkey through the Corktown Residents Association. Seeing Lui’s  passion for urban issues such as planning and transit, Wilkey encouraged him to become involved in the Waterfront. Like the long-time activists, Lui followed the waterfront issues as they came up. Unlike them, he was also fully immersed in social media, which would prove to be an effective tool for CodeBlueTO.
The Waterfront veterans could see its impact right away. As soon as Doug Ford started speaking of monorails, megamalls and Ferris wheels, “the Internet lit up like Christmas lights,“ according to Findlay.
Immediately upon the news breaking, Lui tweeted the suggestion that discussions around the Waterfront topic use the hashtag #CodeBlueTO. The prolific City Hall watchers / tweeters took up the idea and a stream of alternately concerned and mocking comments flowed around that name.
Lui wasn’t the only one whose first instinct was to organize and mobilize the online anger at the Ford Vision. Jude Macdonald, a writer and frequent user of social media, created a Facebook page to voice opposition. It quickly gained traction and she was invited to join a CodeBlueTO meeting by Laidley.
The extent of CodeBlueTO’s communication with each other online was so large that they only met twice, once before and after the Executive meeting (September 6). With that said, the mix of people and energy was appreciated. Lui was impressed when he put faces to names, “Meeting the group that first time, I knew it was going to be something great. Everyone around the table spoke passionately and it was clear we all had the same goal in mind.”
They all agreed that a website was needed, and the way Lui responded made everyone impressed with his work. Findlay says, “We all agreed a website was needed and within 24 hours, Laurence had it done. We all agreed a petition was needed and 24 hours later Laurence had it done.“
The two elements proved to be important community rallying points. In the three-week time span, the clean and appealing-looking CodeBlueTO site received 20,000 hits and the petition had 7,000 signatures.
Importantly, CodeBlue focused on messaging and tone early on. They had concerns that criticism would devolve into cheap anti-Ford rhetoric and they wanted something more, “[The message was] not about personalities but about substantive issues,” says Laidley. “The message all along was ‘we have a plan, it’s a good plan and it doesn’t make sense to switch now’.”
The group went into the executive meeting with this message in mind and the attention of Twitter and Facebook firmly looking at the Executive.
The committee meeting was a bizarro world, as unfocused and unknowledgeable as CodeBlue was the reverse. Several CodeBlue members made deputations, including Wilkey, Laidley and Desfor. For Desfor, it was a rare foray into municipal politics. After the speakers had completed, he spoke in the hallway, saying he was concerned and frustrated by the disingenuous arguments of councillors. Unlike the Jarvis Bike Lanes vote, where thousands of people called the mayor’s cell phone in futility, this campaign would have to be more focused and targeted.
Connecting the Message to Politics


Notably, Executive member Jaye Robinson had made herself absent during the committee vote, so there was some hope yet. Outside in the hallway as Lui passed out CodeBlue buttons a number of people looked down at a chart from the popular (and awesome) FordForToronto blog. The writer, Matt Elliott, had created a chart focusing on who the potential swing votes on the issue would be and another article critiquing Doug’s plan. The latter was one of his most popular yet, a testament to the public interest in the waterfront that went beyond ‘the usual suspects’.
While the knowledge, network, social media presence and public outreach were coming together nicely, CodeBlue needed another component. Many of their members were immersed in the intricate dynamics of the waterfront, but not council. So they asked Elliott to come in to their second meeting to answer questions about who to contact and persuade. He complied and answered the group’s questions as needed. While the primary focus of the group was public outreach to raise awareness and support for the current Port Lands plan, it was also necessarily tied to the political geography.
Left-wing councillors at city hall each targeted a councillor or two to persuade and pass on information to. At the same time, some were telling the press that they were getting 4000 e-mails from constituents in response to the issue (many of which were coordinated by CodeBlue). CodeBlue was concerned that some kind of compromise deal would emerge and strongly stressed to sympathetic councillors this was not what they wanted. According to Findlay, they heard from McConnell’s and Fletcher’s office that they had to figure out how to move the motion forward with getting the most they could and constructing it so it could actually pass council. They encouraged CodeBlue to keep up the public pressure and contacting councillors to let them know this matters.
As the messaging of consulation, consideration, planning and prudence was repeated, mushy councillors fled the Ford scene. Josh Matlow was an early critic of the plan but Jaye Robinson was the one who set things in motion for it to fall apart. 


After weeks of being hammered in the media and by groups like CodeBlue, Civic Action and a group of 147 Toronto planning experts, the mayor’s poll numbers were dropping rapidly. Now with a 42% approval rating, Ford was vulnerable and Robinson spoke up against his plan. Executive member Michelle Berardinetti followed suit as well as Deputy Speaker John Parker.
The mission to connect the voices of a large group of citizens to moderate councillors through social media, petitions and waterfront knowledge had worked. It was now a virtual certainty that the Ford vision would not pass, it was just a matter of how many concessions they would have to give, if any.
The Resolution
Emboldened by their political position, CodeBlueTO released a ‘no compromise’ document the weekend before the vote, outlining areas that they could not give up (Waterfront Toronto as lead agency, Prioritization of Don naturalization and working within existing environmental assessments).
They held a rally at City Hall called “Behind Closed Doors” with supporting events and McConnell and Fletcher singing the titular song. It was an event that could have turned angry very easily but the mood was kept light and focused on a positive message with substantial criticisms.
On the other hand, Doug Ford had went off the rails over the weekend going so far as to calling in to Josh Matlow’s radio show, accusing Ken Greenberg of being married to Adam Vaughan’s EA (they’re not), stating that Janet Davis bullies him and parsing words over what constitutes ‘horse-trading’ with Matlow. It perfectly encapsulated his campaign: out-of-nowhere, alienating, bizarre and brash.
And so Doug Ford sat in council, defeated by the likes of Fletcher and McConnell, moderates like Robinson and even Ford allies. According to Fletcher, this was in no small part due to CodeBlue, “With an exceptional knowledge base and a good ‘rolodex’ they created a port in the storm and encouraged Torontonians to speak out for what they believed in…The state of civic life in Toronto is as healthy as ever.”
Long-time activist Wilkey shared the sentiment, and found it personally fulfilling, “The group was politically savvy, energetic, able to operate in traditional and social media, smart, informed and fun. And I believe we made a difference.”
Wilkey’s observation points to a model for contemporary activism. CodeBlueTO didn’t succeed by doing the opposite of Doug Ford’s single-minded bullying, but because they integrated their diverse and complementary personal skills into their group tactics.
They gathered a passionate group of knowledge experts, communicated a condensed and positive message through old and new channels like social media and used a two-pronged approach to engage in public outreach and political persuasion. In a way, it was a model example for affecting change in the community.
Their activism- often a derogatory word in politics- was appreciated. As Fletcher finished her speech and Council unanimously voted for a consensus that only gave token concessions to the Ford Vision, applause broke out.
But it wasn’t just from the City Hall watchers. Most of the politicians turned around and stood to face the audience and gave a sustained applause to them. Even the chamber camera broke tradition and panned the audience, capturing a moment when the ideals of activism helped to (briefly) change the tenor of politics.   
It was Laidley’s favourite moment of the three weeks, a validation of the impact a small group of people can have. Asked about a lesson from the experience, she offered, “A city is not just created by those who have the power to make decisions, it’s shaped by all of us. All of us have to take responsibility for how we’re governed.”


CodeBlueTO will continue to cover the waterfront. For the purpose of this article, some people who made significant contributions were not covered. 

#GARDINEREAST REALITY CHECK

This CodeBlueTO Reality Check challenges misinformation that is clouding the upcoming decision about the fate of Gardiner East. CodeBlueTO is a group that provides grounded facts to inform public debate and correct the record. So, what’s the buzz, and what are the real facts behind that buzz?

1. The City of Toronto is thinking of taking down the whole Gardiner.

REALITY CHECK

The City decision only concerns the stretch of the Gardiner Expressway that runs east of Jarvis. This section is known as the Gardiner East. There are two choices that are being considered:

  • remove/boulevard:  takes down this stretch of the elevated Gardiner. Traffic moves to a redesigned Lake Shore Boulevard which includes smooth ramp connections to and from the DVP;
  • maintain/hybrid: the elevated highway as it is today, but the on-off ramps to Logan are removed, and moved to Cherry Street. New service roads are added to connect these ramps with the Lake Shore Boulevard.

2. The so-called “hybrid” design is an effective compromise between keeping the Gardiner East as it is and a complete removal.

REALITY CHECK

  • The “hybrid” alternative that is before City Council is very different from the alternative that was proposed by First Gulf a year ago, and discussed by candidates during last fall’s municipal election campaign.
  • Today’s “hybrid” is essentially the Gardiner East exactly as it is now. The only change to the Gardiner structure is the removal of the Logan ramps (that take cars to South Riverdale and the Beach) and the addition of new ramps at Cherry Street. Other than moving the ramps, the so-called hybrid alternative is the same as “maintain”, which was rejected by City staff a year ago in favour of the “remove” alternative.
  • The current “hybrid” alternative is more like a very expensive rebranding of an old, rejected choice rather than any kind of meaningful compromise.

3. Toronto has a costly congestion problem. We need the Gardiner East to stay on top of that problem. (“We can’t afford to make the problem any worse.”)

REALITY CHECK

  • Only 3% of peak morning commuter travel to the city’s core uses the Gardiner East – a tiny proportion. Neither keeping this stretch of the expressway up nor taking it down will solve our complex congestion problem.
  • The Gardiner has been at capacity for years. It is unable to absorb the growth in commuters coming downtown during morning peak travel. Neither of the two alternatives can change that.
  • Improved transit is one of the most important strategies for addressing congestion. Almost 70% of commuters come downtown in the morning peak period by transit. That percentage will continue to grow.
  • Ironically, fear of removal might end up limiting our ability to address congestion by throwing good money after bad for one mode of travel, leaving less money to spend on transit and other strategies for improving the ways most people get to and from work.

4. Taking the Gardiner East down will hurt Toronto’s global competitiveness.

REALITY CHECK

  • As mentioned above, transit growth will be a much more important factor.
  • “[R]oad networks play a marginal role in the evaluation of Toronto’s competitiveness. Road networks are seen as subcomponents of broader factors that incorporate infrastructure and transportation issues. In these areas, issues like mass transit investment, quality housing, airports, and green space are much more impactful measures of a city’s competitiveness.”
  • – May, 2015 Alternative Solutions Evaluation Interim Report prepared for the City of Toronto

5 Commute times will go through the roof if the Gardiner East comes down.

REALITY CHECK

  • According to the City’s Environmental Assessment, the difference in travel time between the two alternatives is estimated to be only 2–3 minutes.
  • CPCS – the consultants who analyzed the impact of the two options on goods movement for the EA - concluded that this only “marginally increased congestion”
  • Modeling for a study done by the University of Toronto on behalf of the Canadian Automobile Association (and others) found that – with optimized signals – peak hour travel could be slightly faster on Lake Shore Boulevard than it would be if the Gardiner were maintained.
  • “Can those supposed two to ten minute delays account for future innovation, unexpected mass changes in habit or political course corrections? Of course not.”
  • – John Lorinc, Tearing down Gardiner East is all in the numbers

6. Putting all of the Gardiner traffic on an 8-lane boulevard will create a bigger barrier to the waterfront, and be more dangerous.

REALITY CHECK

  • With the Gardiner’s removal, the redesigned 8-lane boulevard would be 7 metres narrower than University Avenue and, like University, pedestrians would enjoy air and light as they cross.
  • The “hybrid” has a pedestrian crossing distance that is 7 metres wider than “remove” offers at Jarvis, and is 18 metres wider at Sherbourne. Lake Shore crossings would also continue to be peppered with supporting pillars, and dominated by the Gardiner structure above.
  • The remove alternative provides an opportunity to redesign the Lake Shore intersections – at Jarvis (one of Toronto’s most dangerous), Sherbourne, Parliament, and Cherry – making them safer and more functional for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Removing the expressway’s supporting pillars, which affect sightlines and free turn lanes to ramps, will improve safety for all users, and reduce accidents that are a significant contributor to congestion.

7. Changing from an expressway to a boulevard will be unpleasant and frustrating for drivers. How will they connect with the DVP?

REALITY CHECK

  • As with other major arterial roads further north, the Lake Shore will have direct ramps leading to and from the Don Valley Expressway.
  • Unlike the 401, the DVP, the 427 and the Allen Expressway, there are few drivers who complain about University Avenue being unpleasant and frustrating.
  • The beauty of a boulevard is that it allows drivers to take advantage of many route alternatives, rather than being stuck on an elevated expressway in a traffic jam with no off-ramp in sight.

8. Keeping Gardiner East up is more expensive, but it is a good investment for Toronto’s future.

REALITY CHECK

  • Keeping the Gardiner East is inferior on many other measures of value to the City.
  • The maintain/hybrid alternative will cost $500 million more in construction and maintenance costs, and will take away at least $136 million in revenues from the sale of City-owned developable land. This doesn’t take into consideration lost annual revenue from related property taxes.
  • The choice comes down to a cheaper, more attractive option with many very real benefits for the city versus a few (hypothetical) minutes of travel time during rush hour for a very small group of commuters.

9. Large cities with elevated expressways need to keep those important access routes working to survive.

REALITY CHECK

  • “On a macro scale, main congestion indicators for major US cities that have removed or do not have elevated urban freeways are comparable to those that have maintained elevated urban freeways.” (CPCS)
  • Toronto can simply look at other cities that have already taken the plunge and been the better for it: San Francisco, Seoul, and New York, for example. “While there were often fears of traffic ‘chaos’ following removal of elevated expressways in the case studies analyzed, traffic generally adjusted to the new reality without very significant disruption using the best alternate route available, adjusting trip time, or in some cases changing mode or avoiding trips all together.” (CPCS)

10. We need the hybrid alternative to support the development of an important new commercial centre being planned for the First Gulf Unilever site at Lake Shore and the Don Roadway.

REALITY CHECK

  • Both options being considered by Council remove the on-off ramps from the Gardiner to Logan, which is what the developer is looking for.

11. Both alternatives, Gardiner East up or down, equally support Toronto’s investment in unlocking value in the waterfront and the Port Lands.

REALITY CHECK

  • While both alternatives “unlock” the value of the Unilever site, the “hybrid” actually destroys or compromises value all along the route of the Gardiner East. This includes sites that are important to Port Lands renewal.
  • Instead of opening up the major north-south connections between the city and the waterfront to air and light, keeping the Gardiner East will those connections in the blighted state of unpleasant landscapes under an expressway.
  • Cherry Street – intended to be the primary transportation and transit Gateway to the Port Lands – is particularly compromised by the hybrid, which will worsen existing conditions by adding two-lane ramps to both sides of the already unattractive elevated expressway.
  • The Keating Channel Precinct aims to transform derelict waterfront lands into a connecting bridge of development between the city and the Port Lands. A particularly compelling feature includes the creation of a vibrant water’s edge along the Keating Channel. The “hybrid” seriously compromises that plan by introducing ramps and service roads that run the length of the precinct, destroying development sites and taking up much of the water’s edge on the north side of the Keating Channel. Removing the Gardiner would increase value and opportunity by opening up the whole precinct.
  • The new Villiers Island precinct in the revitalized Port Lands can have one of two views looking north across the Keating Channel:
    - that of an elevated highway, service roads and ramps, or
    - parkland, a promenade and other features created to highlight the area’s relationship to the lake and river.
    Which one has greater value speaks for itself.
  • Choosing the so-called hybrid will also mean that there is less fiscal room in future to pay for the transit that is needed everywhere in the city, including in the Port Lands, where residents and business attracted to Toronto’s new blue edge will be expected to leave cars behind.

This is not a transportation engineering exercise. Instead, it is a referendum on the future of Toronto’s waterfront. Maintaining a 1960s vision of progress along our waterfront is not Toronto’s future – and it is certainly not worth an extra half-billion dollars.

After a dramatic grassroots effort to safeguard the public vision for our own Port Lands, Toronto is on the cusp of seeing a $1 billion renaturalization of the mouth of the Don River. Revitalization of the Port Lands will be the largest project of its kind in the world.

Political Implications for Ford's Sinking Port Lands Vision



In advance of Wednesday’s City Council vote a ‘consensus’ has been reached on the motion to hand over control of the Port Lands from Waterfront Toronto to the Toronto Port Lands Company to be sold to developers. 


The Toronto Star’s David Rider has more reporting here and CodeBlueTO co-founder Laurence Lui has a brief summary here


The consensus promises an 'accelerated’ timeline with Waterfront Toronto in the lead and 'more co-operation’ with TPLC. I put 'accelerated’ and 'more co-operation’ in quotes because it remains to be seen what concrete actions these refer to and how they will be enforced. 


Apparently a range of councillors from opposition to centrists to Ford allies worked on the consensus and must be pretty tired after yesterday’s 19 hour meeting. Which councillors took the lead in developing the motion will likely come out in due time and they’ll get some hard-earned political points. 


While details about the consensus (note, not a 'compromise’) are sparse, it’s never to early to speculate on the political ramifications. 


Ford loses here and loses big. When details emerge it will be interesting to hear the level of involvement the mayor’s office had in building the consensus although my guess is that it’s low to negligible. 


Both Rob and Doug shot themselves in the foot on this item and shot themselves many times. They made this a flashy, high visibility issue which drew attention to themselves and the lack of transparency that brought them to this point. The megamall-monorail-ferris wheel plan alternately looked like a flight of fancy on the back of a napkin or a series of backroom, opaque steps. Either way confirmed the worst public suspicions of their governance style. 


Moreover, as Goldsbie said on Josh Matlow’s radio show The City, the Fords have seemed to lose control of the narrative. Even after the disastrous launch of the Ford Waterfront Vision, they had a series of miscues in trying to sell their pitch. 


The Mayor had his absurd Fordian line that trees may be nice but they don’t employ people. His office also slammed Waterfront Toronto CEO John Campbell for rather harmlessly explaining why he doesn’t have private developers line up, that his organization legally, “cannot do deals behind closed doors”. There was an official complaint about Doug Ford meeting with Westfield without it going in the lobbyist registry. Then there was Doug cancelling on Matlow’s show- allegedly to get Matlow’s vote on the issue- and then calling in to, among other things, dismiss noted planner Ken Greenberg for being married to Adam Vaughan’s executive assistant (he’s not) and complain that Janet Davis bullies him.


The 'consensus-builders’ look all the better by contrast. From the vocal left to centrists like Matlow, who took an early and forceful stand on the issue, they come out on the winning end of history. It’s particularly good for individuals like Jaye Robinson, Michelle Berardinetti and Karen Stintz, Ford allies who showed a willingness to say no. 


More than any individual political capital won from this issue- and yes, this article ignores the huge benefit of keeping the better Waterfront Toronto plan- is the demonstration that a broad coalition of councillors is workable at City Hall. 


The breadth of this consensus will likely not be a regular occurrence, but at the very least it indicates there’s a willingness to work beyond the mayor when needed on key issues. This should embolden all councillors to say no and force the mayor’s office to either consult more broadly and openly with council or risk having the mayor further marginalized. 


While it’s a nice victory- one that will probably be remembered next election when people say, 'Hey, remember that crazy monorail-megamall thing?’- it’s not over yet. According to Marcus Gee, Doug Ford has expressed an interest in a Board of Directors seat with Waterfront Toronto. It’s conceivable they’ll try this again in a different way. 


The lesson to be learned from all of this is that skepticism of the administration is good, the governance style of the mayor’s office is publicly and internally seen as bad and in the absence of change a broad coalition is an achievable better way. 

Our say on #GardinerEast

On May 13, 2015, CodeBlueTO gave a deputation at Toronto’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee Special Meeting. This is our statement:

Councillors,

Thank you for inviting me to speak to you today. I am John Wilson, speaking to you on behalf of CodeBlueTO, a group of concerned Torontonians who came together four years ago to oppose a bad idea – involving mega-malls and Ferris wheels – that would have destroyed value in the Port Lands. I’m here today because bad ideas keep coming up.

The convincing conclusion reached by the Gardiner East EA last year was to connect the Gardiner to the Don Valley Parkway via a boulevard at grade. At that time Council asked for more information on transportation issues and to review a “Hybrid" proposal that was not included in the original EA.

The review of the original hybrid proposal demonstrated that it would not work. Instead, the Hybrid plan that is currently under consideration is essentially the originally rejected “Maintain” option. The only change from “Maintain" is the relocation of off-ramps from Logan Ave. to Cherry St. These new ramps have not been studied in any detail or vetted by stakeholders through the EA process. Their location makes development between Parliament St. and the river all but impossible and hinders the use of Cherry St. as the gateway to the future development of the Port Lands. To say that this proposal fulfills the stated goals of the EA is like putting a saddle on a pig and calling it a pony.

The Remove/Boulevard option is the fiscally responsible choice, carrying a significantly lower price tag. It will require a lower level of ongoing maintenance, and opens up the waterfront to the city. It is the choice that will connect all of the work that has already been done on the waterfront to the west with the East Bayfront through the Keating Channel, First Gulf site, and Port Lands. It also creates 12 acres of developable land that will add to the tax base and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in direct revenues to pay for the project.

The choice comes down to all of these very real benefits for the city versus a few minutes of travel time during rush hour for a small group of commuters. Peak hour commuters using the Gardiner East number just 4,500 travelling west and 1,200 eastbound. The implementation of SmartTrack will carry more new passengers than all of the existing roadways combined. Seen in the context of its minor importance as a transpiration link, this section of the Gardiner is one of the causes of gridlock, not the solution. In fact, automobile travel times at peak hour will continue to rise regardless of the option chosen.

Many major cities from Seoul, to San Francisco to New York have taken down significant stretches of elevated roadway and have seen the benefit in reduced operating costs, increased economic development, tourism, and higher property values. This is not a transportation engineering exercise it is a referendum on the future of Toronto’s waterfront. Our status among leading world cities is at stake. Do we aspire to be a New York City or a Newark, a Barcelona or a Buffalo, a San Francisco or a St. Louis? Maintaining this 1960s vision of progress is not Toronto’s future - and certainly not worth an extra ½ billion dollars.

The choice that council faces is clear: Maintaining the existing structure – at great expense – continually dealing with falling concrete, traffic snarls, and increased taxes or …

Replace it with a boulevard at much lower cost – and reap the benefits of growth, international prestige, and increased economic activity.

Thank you.
CodeBlueTO