The City Council From A Millennial’s Perspective

With only a few years left before I graduate from post secondary education, I have taken it upon myself to experience as many things as possible before I’m expected to become an integral part of society. However, I’m beginning to realize that quenching my thirst for knowledge will never be possible as the opportunity to learn something never ends. So when I had the chance to attend my first City Council Meeting at City Hall yesterday- I went.

The atmosphere was serious; a large group of well informed citizens gathered to listen in on what their councillors had to say. Various issues from around the city were raised as each councillor took turns addressing them in a professional, timely manner. It was similar to stimulations we, students, take part in during debates in our Political Science classes. Except this time, the debaters were older, the topics were more current, and the results affected people instead of grades. The Key Matter of the day; the Gardiner Expressway.

My involvement in the Gardiner Expressway debate is fairly recent. As I began to learn more about the Hybrid and Boulevard options, I saw the importance of making the right decision. Being a Millennial, I am invested in the wellness of our future. Therefore, being informed on the environmental, economical, and health factors associated with the Gardiner East options allowed me to have an opinion on the matter. It is the reason I attended City Council. Preparing to live tweet the proceedings, I anxiously waited for some decisions to be made.

However, when City Council announced an in-camera session, I was immediately disappointed. As members of the city, we deserve the right to be informed and be involved in the matters that affect us. As the public paced outside Council Chambers, the 10 minute recess turned into a 3 hour wait. How can a matter affecting so many people be dealt with so privately?

Council was essentially preventing us from gaining the knowledge we need to be an integral part of society. Our need to be well informed citizens was demolished and our intent to be part of the decision was shattered. Not allowing the public to hear the arguments on such as important debate not only lacks transparency, but it effectively demonstrated the importance political power over expert advice.

My day at City Hall may not have revealed a lot about the Gardiner East, but it did reveal one thing; the debate will be a close one. Within a few hours, I was able to hear many different arguments from the public. While one citizen expressed interest in removing the Gardiner East due to the lack of use for it, another citizen deemed the hybrid a necessity as it allows him to come to the city from his home in Brantford.

Council is set to continue the debate today. Stay tuned for more updates.

The Gardiner Expressway Analysis

With the debate heating up around what to do about the Gardiner Expressway the Women’s Post encourages all city councilors to break free of political alliances and study the issue that will shape Toronto well into the future.  The decision to support the Boulevard or Hybrid options ties into so many other questions.
Does the decision to rebuild the East Gardier today lead to rebuilding rest of the crumbling expressway with a cost estimate of close to $2 Billion?  
How much more will it cost taxpayers to maintain an elevated highway  in comparison to maintaining a boulevard?
Why are major cities taking down their elevated highways on their waterfronts?
The truck association claims that their drivers won’t use the Gardiner Expressway – Don Valley Parkway route if a boulevard replaced the elevated highway — how many trucks will stop using it and will it speed up travel times for commuters?
Below are the pros and cons around the Gardiner Expressway issue.
 The Boulevard Option pros:
– push truck traffic away from the Gardiner and DVP – helping to alleviate gridlock on those highways
– save the city close to $500 million in initial cost and millions more in future maintenance
– reclaim the waterfront and add 12 more acres than the Hybrid option offers
– more reclaimed land creates more tax dollars for the city
– Toronto health believes it is the healthier choice for the citizens of Toronto 
– experts like Jan Gehl call for tear down of Gardiner East to enhance the waterfront
– make Toronto competitive with other world class cities that have taken down their elevated waterfront highways
The Boulevard Option cons:
– disrupt truck and freight traffic using the Gardiner Expressway – Don Valley Parkway route
– add 2-3 minutes in commute times for drivers
 The Hybrid Option pros:
– enable truck traffic to continue using both the Gardiner and DVP
– allow a continuous route along the waterfront
– maintain the same travel time for commuters
– trucking industry support
 The Hybrid Option cons:
– cause more pollution in the core
– cost more to build and maintain pushing costs onto our children and grandchildren
– smaller amount of reclaimed land will limit future tax intake for the city
– health risks for residents of  Toronto
– less competitive than other world class cities that are taking down their elevated waterfront highways to open up their waterfront to development
– increases the likelihood of Toronto having to rebuild entire Gardiner Expressway at estimated cost of $2 billion

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