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The Blessing and the Curse

Board's Congestion Task Force discusses construction and the need for co-ordination to reduce congestion

The Gardiner expressway, lit up at night with a time lapse effect.

From ongoing public transit infrastructure and much needed housing development, to replacing centuries-old water mains, Toronto is the busiest city in North America when it comes to construction.

Indeed, construction activity is a major contributor to the GTA's economic growth – which BILD estimates to have contributed over $60 billion through direct spending and knock-off benefits in 2021 alone. However, with all this very necessary construction also comes significant road restrictions, which is a primary driver of Toronto’s congestion. The congestion crisis is not just an inconvenience - it has far reaching impacts on our region’s economy, costing us over $11 billion annually in lost productivity and economic opportunity. Our region is stuck, and the Board’s Congestion Task Force is working to identify and harness bold solutions to get us moving again.

In 2024, Toronto faces a multitude of construction projects that will disrupt daily commutes including the Gardiner expressway rehabilitation, the Ontario Line subway, the Scarborough Subway Extension and Eglinton Crosstown West Extension. In addition, there are infrastructure upgrades underway across the city including: the installation of streetcar tracks, road reconstruction, sewer rehabilitation, construction of storm trunk sewer systems, road safety improvements, and complete street upgrades. These projects often involve lane closures and changes to traffic routes.

What is the Congestion Task Force?

The Board has convened a Task Force of senior business leaders to identify and champion practical, high-impact solutions to tackle our congestion crisis. These leaders have a strong history of problem-solving and implementing bold solutions.

Task Force outputs and recommendations will focus on immediate measures to reduce current congestion levels, as well as a comprehensive, forward-looking plan – one that considers projected population growth to guide the region toward a more efficient and integrated transportation system.

To better understand construction’s impact, our Task Force discussed how the City and Province currently manage their impacts, and focused on the pain points the business community continues to face. They also discussed the planning elements and tools required to thoughtfully manage construction disruptions, approaches for communicating road closures and detours, better coordinating maintenance and upgrades, increasing night-time construction, ensuring accountability, and how businesses can plan when there are significant construction delays.

There is no doubt – from housing to critical infrastructure, we must build to accommodate our growing population. Stay tuned as we evaluate the feasibility of the ideas proposed and work with businesses and government to develop immediate and long-term solutions to our crippling congestion crisis.