‘Game-changing’: Ontario to upload DVP, Gardiner costs in new deal with Toronto

The Gardiner Expressway and DVP will soon become the responsibility of the province, to help the city with long-term financial pressures. With that, the Ford government will move ahead with its plans for Ontario Place. Mark McAllister reports.

The province of Ontario will be uploading the costs of the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway in a new deal with the City of Toronto, freeing the city from the costs of maintaining the two major highways.

In exchange, the city will back down on the fight over Ontario Place, a move that would clear the way for the Ford government’s redevelopment plans for the Crown lands.

The details of the fresh agreement were unveiled in a Monday morning joint news conference at Queen’s Park with Premier Doug Ford and Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow.

“After weeks of productive discussions, we’ve agreed to a game-changing historic new deal,” said Ford. “These two highways are vital to the success of the province’s economy.”

The province is set to provide the relief for the city’s two main arteries into the downtown core in 2024, subject to third-party due diligence. Ford pledged not to toll the highways during Monday’s news conference, an idea that had been previously floated as a way for the city to offset the costs of maintaining the routes.

Chow’s office previously cited the uploading of the Gardiner and DVP to the province as one of many options to help make the city whole in the face of a ballooning budget shortfall.

“I’m encouraged by this new deal,” said Chow. “It unlocks the city’s potential, it provides billions in capital and operating dollars so that we can do more for people.”

“By uploading the Gardiner and the DVP, the city will be able to spend billions more on affordable housing, fixing transit, and building communities. This deal means that we can do more for people.”

In total, the Ford government says the agreement will offer $7.6 billion in capital relief for the city, and will offer $1.2 billion in operating support over three years. It includes funds to be allocated to homeless shelters and beds, and to help bring online the Finch West and Eglinton Crosstown LRTs.

The premier added that both the city and the province need continued support from the federal government to help Toronto deal with mounting housing and transit costs.

“We still needs the feds at the table,” said Ford. “We need all levels of government working together.”

Full terms of the deal can be found here.

Province to take full control of Ontario Place

Ford says the new deal with Toronto will allow the province to take over full responsibility for Ontario Place, paving the way for his government’s redevelopment plan.

He confirmed the province still plans to move the Ontario Science Centre to Ontario Place. Chow added that the city would still be offering science programs at the existing Science Centre location.

“My position is clear on Ontario Place, I believe that it should be a public park,” Chow says. “That debate is going to happen at Queen’s Park, not at the municipal level.”

The Ontario Place development plans have faced opposition from some community groups and members of the public. The government-funded parking garage for more than 2,000 cars and the long-term lease with European company Therme for a $350-million spa and waterpark have been particularly criticized.

Ford said Monday he is open to an idea floated by the mayor to move the spa, or at least the parking garage, across the street to the exhibition grounds.

“Maybe that’s not the best place, where we had it,” he said. “So let’s move it. Have more open space towards the lake.”

The advocacy group Ontario Place for All filed an application last week with the divisional court seeking an injunction to block the Ford government from proceeding with the West Island redevelopment plan and requiring a full environmental assessment to be completed before the spa’s development.

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