Taylor Swift shows: Toronto trying ‘everything’ to ease Gardiner delays, Chow says

Toronto is doing “everything” it can to mitigate the disruptions caused by major rehabilitation work on the Gardiner Expressway, Mayor Olivia Chow says.

Chow spoke to reporters at city hall on Wednesday before the start of this month’s city council meeting, where several topics will be discussed, including a member’s motion from Beaches – East York Coun. Brad Bradford on looking at ways to speed up the work.

She was asked about the disruptions and their impact not only on residents, but also on the city’s economy given the expected boon from music superstar Taylor Swift in November.

“We have to rebuild the Gardiner. There’s nothing we can do about it,” she said of the more than 60-year-old expressway.

“We are doing everything we can to mitigate the disturbances caused by the Gardiner being rebuilt.”

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City to open Jameson Avenue on-ramp in pilot project

Last month, parts of the city’s main east-west expressway were reduced by one lane in each direction between Strachan Avenue and Dufferin Street for “critical rehabilitation work.”

Those closures will be in place for the next three years, and will only lift temporarily in 2026 for another major economic event: the FIFA World Cup.

Click to play video: 'Lane closures begin soon for Gardiner Expressway rehabilitation work'

Lane closures begin soon for Gardiner Expressway rehabilitation work

Despite calls for the Gardiner to reopen during Swift’s shows, the city said that wouldn’t be possible given that the closed lanes are being demolished and rebuilt.

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However, Chow said Wednesday the city will begin a pilot project soon to alleviate some of the delays.

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“We have an action plan to extend the opening of the Jameson (Avenue) on-ramp to the Gardiner while the Gardiner is being fixed, and the pilot is going to begin this week,” she said, adding that involves amending the bylaw to have the on-ramp open between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Click to play video: 'Toronto planning experts call for better execution to reduce construction season impacts'

Toronto planning experts call for better execution to reduce construction season impacts

Chow said city staff are looking at ways to ease gridlock at British Columbia Road and Lake Shore Boulevard.

Staff are also conducting noise tests on demolition work, Chow added, amid calls from the Ontario government for 24-7 work.

Council is set to hear a motion from Bradford this week on the Gardiner, seeking a report from staff on ways to speed up the work.

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Chow called that motion “redundant,” saying staff are already working on a report coming to the infrastructure committee this summer.

Toronto should get sales tax revenue when Swift is in town: Chow

Swift is expected to be an economic boon when she’s in town in November for six sold-out shows at the Rogers Centre.

Pat Tobin, general manager of economic development and culture at the City of Toronto, previously told Global News Toronto that ticket sales for the Eras Tour shows could generate at least $120 million.

Those purchases aside, Swifties will also be spending on items like food, drink and accommodation. There will also be attractions for those who were unable to get a ticket, such as the recently announced “Taylgate” fan experience.

Click to play video: 'Taylor Swift announces 6 new shows in Toronto for Eras tour in 2024'

Taylor Swift announces 6 new shows in Toronto for Eras tour in 2024

Tobin said all that tourist activity could result in an additional $500 to $600 million for the local economy.

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Chow said Wednesday that Toronto deserves a share of the revenue from sales taxes when Swift is here.

“Taylor Swift coming in November is going to generate so much money for the federal and the provincial government sales tax…. The city doesn’t get a penny of it,” she said.

“We hope that our senior level of government will understand our needs and provide a bit of support for Toronto.”

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