06/10/2015 03:54 EDT | Updated 06/10/2016 05:59 EDT

Gardiner Expressway debate: TTC Chair Josh Colle wants city to sell highway

As councillors begin an intense debate about whether to tear down the eastern Gardiner Expressway or go with the mayor's "hybrid" vision, TTC Chair Coun. Josh Colle has a new idea: just sell the highway.

Colle, the Ward 15 councillor, plans to ask city staff to study the options when it comes to selling off or leasing the entire Gardiner Expressway, which stretches from Highway 427 to the Don Valley Parkway. The money from a potential sale, he said, should be put into transit projects.

"We need to do something bold," Colle told CBC Radio's Here and Now about the need to generate transit dollars in the city.

Colle said the money would be spent on:

- The future East Bayfront LRT line, which has council's approval

- The TTC's State of Good repair backlog, which is in the millions

- John Tory's SmartTrack plan

Colle is the latest councillor to pitch an alternative idea as the Gardiner East debate begins at city hall Wednesday. Previously, Coun. Jim Karygiannis said he wants the city to consider burying the eastern portion of the roadway – an option city staff has not put forward.

And Coun. John Campbell, who had been undecided until today, suggested whatever option wins will need to be modified by council.

"I expect tonnes of motions and a long, long debate," Colle said, referring to the two sides as "warring tribes."

Wednesday's council debate began behind closed doors, but moved into the council chambers around 2 p.m.

City planner Jennifer Keesmaat, who has been a vocal proponent of the remove option, was one of the first city staffers to answer questions — perhaps to the dismay of Tory, who had criticized her choice to speak out publicly on the issue.

"At the end of the day she has been free to express her opinion," Tory told CBC's Metro Morning host Matt Galloway on Tuesday when asked if he's asked the chief planner not to speak about the issue. 

"The only thing, generally, I think public servants should not be doing is sort of debating politicians because they are public servants and there is a line to be drawn there."

As many as 10 councillors, including former mayor Coun. Rob Ford are still undecided as the debate begins.