The Front Street Extension and the Gardiner Expressway are having their legs cut out from beneath them.
Spacing has learned that the City of Toronto and Waterfront Toronto are officially taking the Front Street Extension (FSE) off the books. Sources tell us that the provincial Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal (PIR) is reallocating their portion of the reserve funds dedicated to the FSE, thus effectively killing the much maligned road project.
The cost of the FSE was to be shared between the City of Toronto ($85-million) and the provincial and federal governments (a combined $120-million). It was believed that the City sought to have the federal government pay the difference on the rising costs to build the FSE, but that commitment has never been made. With the PIR decision, Waterfront Toronto has decided to remove the FSE as a priority project and is proceeding with other design options. An announcement from Waterfront Toronto is believed to be forthcoming.
The FSE has been a priority of Waterfront Toronto for years — the road was meant to alleviate traffic on the Gardiner Expressway west of Spadina. The construction of the FSE was also a prerequisite to tearing down portions of the Gardiner so that traffic capacity along the waterfront corridor would not be lost. Plans for the FSE would’ve seen it continue west from Bathurst — where Front Street currently ends — and terminate at Dufferin near the western boundary of the CNE.
The cancellation of the FSE will make west-enders who opposed the project breathe a sigh of relief, while it’s also believed that residents in the central waterfront area will see the dismantling of the York Street ramps.
Fred Dominelli, a developer who owns land in the path of the FSE, said he wasn’t aware of an imminent announcement about the FSE, but seemed relieved to hear that he can begin to develop his land. “I just want to get on with it,” he told Spacing. “I want to build a 25-storey building of live-work spaces on my property — if they allow me to do that, I’ll give them whatever leftover land there is so they can build a nice local road.”
However, east-enders may not be as happy about the cancellation. Resources will now focus on how to demolish the Gardiner Expressway east of Jarvis. Tearing down this portion of the Gardiner will result in the expansion of Lake Shore Boulevard — part of a plan originally released on September 27, 2006 by city council — with up to 10 lanes of roadway in and around the planned neighbourhoods and parks of the East Bayfront and Lower Donlands.
photo by Sam Javanrouh