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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 10 page 12

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That EA bugged the Hybros something fierce. To start, they felt the illustrations were unrealistic, even devious, such as how they showed the grand boulevard sunny with only modest vehicular traffic, with well-dressed photoshop pedestrians gambolling across. Or such as how there was a picture of the Gardiner alongside Keating Channel where the water was brown and scuzzy but then came a visualization of the Gardiner-free future where the water was blue and there were kayakers and ducks paddling.

Gardiner Expressway
The Gardiner alongside Keating Channel

As a matter of fact it was obvious that some of the Hybros didn’t much care for the EA project team or the work of the planning department under chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat, an advocate of, as she says, “moving people in a variety of ways rather than just cars.” When somebody talks like that, what they mean is: less space for cars. In addition, Keesmaat at one time worked in Councillor Joe Mihevc’s office, and Mihevc (St. Paul’s) was a zealous Boulevardier, so it was hard not to imagine some leftoid planning conspiracy behind the scenes.

Giorgio Mammoliti (York West) was among those who claimed to feel bulldozed. Keesmaat, he objected ridiculously, seemed “to be deciding which communities get the cafés and which don’t.”

Some councillors distrusted the numbers in the EA. Delays of only a couple extra minutes for drivers using the Boulevard as compared to the Gardiner — who could believe that? The numbers, they said, placed too much faith in the city’s ability to divert commuters to a host of as yet unfunded transit projects.

Then there was the EA’s surprising claim that the Boulevard despite presumably stop-and-go traffic would generate lower vehicle emissions than the Gardiner. The explanation for this phenomenon, provided by Don McKinnon of Dillon Consulting, was subtle and seemed to disclose an anti-car agenda: the Boulevard, McKinnon said, would be cleaner “from a regional perspective” because it would discourage long-distance journeys such as from Mississauga to Pickering via the Gardiner. Those travellers might take the GO train instead.

Above all, the Hybros slagged the grand boulevard because it was not grand enough. For example, it would rub up against the Union Station Rail Corridor between Lower Sherbourne and Parliament Streets. And without a doubt it would be a traffic nightmare, because if you want to see what congestion looks like when you interrupt an expressway, go watch the traffic squeezing onto Eglinton off the Allen Expressway Allen Road.

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