April 23, 2010

Green Ribbon for the Gardiner?

CANADA - A year ago architect Les Klein made a proposal that Toronto turn the aged and ugly Gardiner Expressway into an urban garden by adding a roof to it, gardens, walkways and cycling paths.

People oohed and ahhed at the novelty of doing something similar New York's High Line Park (which transformed an old elevated railline into an urban garden), resulting in architect Klein doing 18 interviews in a quick 24 hour period before the novelty wore off.

Except the novelty never quite wore off. Last fall Toronto Council voted to include the "Green Ribbon" proposals to either scrap the expressway, improve it or keep the status quo (ugliness, falling apart and danger to the public if something ever falls and hurts someone).

Originally finished in 1965 the Gardiner has been eye sore near Toronto's waterfront for the last 45 years and people have been trying to fathom what to do with the damn thing ever since.

Right now there is an environmental assessment going on and the Green Ribbon proposal is gaining steam... here's why:

#1. People who live downtown and own cars want to keep the Gardiner. Its convenient for wanting to get out of the city.

#2. Other proposals to scrap the Gardiner or bury it under ground are all expensive or wasteful. The cost of fixing the Gardiner/implementing the Green Ribbon proposal is $700 million, which is less than half the price of tearing down the Gardiner and replacing it with a road at ground level.

#3. People don't want the Gardiner replaced with another eye sore. Transforming it into green space solves the problem.

So its cheaper, its greener and it solves the eye sore problem. Sounds good to me. Check out the Facebook page for Toronto's Green Ribbon.

Architect Klein believes its better to reuse a building than destroy it. From a "green perspective," Klein says, "the last thing you want to do is throw stuff away if you’re trying to improve something."

Eventually there will be a vote by Toronto City Council on what to do about the Gardiner, but public support for an idea is always the first step.

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