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Should Toronto Grow Gardens on The Gardiner?

In a proposal to Toronto Public Works last week, office-space development firm First Gulf floated a plan for the ever-disintegrating Gardiner Expressway; they want to tear down the eastern stretch and replace it with an eight-lane boulevard, conveniently giving First Gulf easier access to the big chunk of property they own in the Port Lands. The plan isn't even going to be discussed in council until 2015, though (and will probably die a quiet death in the meantime).

There have been lots of ideas thrown around about the Gardiner's fate, ever since it started dropping chunks of concrete onto surprised commuters driving underneath it on Lakeshore Boulevard. In other cities, derelict roadways and elevated rail lines have been transformed into incredible public spaces, like New York City's High Line, and there are even more in the works. What if Toronto did the same with the Gardiner? Imagine taking in the lake views from a bench 15 metres above ground, rather than through your car window while going 90km/h. Or what about putting a green roof on it, as Quadrangle Architects proposes? Have a look at what could be done with a little imagination—and, usually, a whole lot of money.

Quadrangle Architects' Green Ribbon plan would keep the existing Expressway in place, but see an 80-acre green roof built over seven kilometres of the Gardiner's superstructure. The roof could have pedestrian walkways and bike paths, as well as coffee shops, boutiques, and art galleries.

↑ Built on a defunct elevated railway line, New York's High Line is one of the most popular public spaces in Manhattan, and it's only been open since 2009. In fact, it's so popular it's become a bit of a mixed blessing for a lot of New Yorkers, who appreciate the additional green space but are growing resentful of the High Line's tourist trap status.

↑ In Chicago, they're turning the disused Bloomingdale Line rail track into The 606, a park that adds 13 acres of green space to the Logan Square neighbourhood. It's scheduled to open in the fall of this year.

↑ The inspiration for New York's High Line, the Promenade plantée is built on a disused elevated viaduct that runs through Paris's 12th arrondissement. The viaduct's arches are now home to shops and cafés. The Promenade opened in 1993. · Don't knock down the Gardiner Expressway – Just Put a Roof on it [Globe]
· Developer First Gulf Comes Up With New Compromise [Toronto Star]
· Disney World on the Hudson [New York Times]