Toronto Mayor John Tory won a narrow victory on Thursday when council voted in favour of the $919-million hybrid option for the Gardiner Expressway.

Tory, who was championing the idea leading up to Thursday's meeting, was met with fierce opposition at City Hall. Approximately a third of Tory's executive team voted against him, supporting the removal option instead.

Tory, however, managed to secure a few wild-card votes, and the hybrid option was adopted, squeaking through council 24-21.

"I think we made a major step forward in having a debate that was respectful in its tone," Tory told reporters.

Thursday’s victory was a major win for Tory as many considered it the most significant vote so far since he won the municipal election in October. The Gardiner vote also revealed an urban-suburban split among councillors.

Opponents of the hybrid option, which included councillors from the old city of Toronto, vowed to continue fighting for drivers in the city.

"I would say, unfortunately, this is not over," Coun. Pam McConnell said. "You can’t win by two or three votes and expect the city will move forward."

Councillors were considering two options that were recommended by the city staff earlier this year:

1. Removal

Supported by city staff in a report last February, this option involved the removal of the elevated Gardiner structure east of Jarvis Street, and the creation of a multi-lane ground-level roadway. The cost of the tear-down option had been pegged at $461 million. According to a May report written by the University of Toronto's Centre for Intelligent Transportation Systems, tearing down the eastern portion of the Gardiner could add an extra 10 minutes to a driver's morning commute.

2. Hybrid alternative

This option will cost $919 million and involves maintaining a link between the Gardiner and the Don Valley Parkway. The on- and off-ramps east of the Don River that extend to Logan Avenue, however, will be demolished. And east of the Don River, the Lakeshore will be rebuilt as a six-lane boulevard.

Rob Ford makes an appearance

Coun. Rob Ford was also at city council on Thursday, the first time since undergoing cancer surgery.

Dressed in a red tracksuit, the former mayor appeared to be his old self, rejecting both options for the 1.7-kilometre stretch of the Gardiner east of Jarvis and instead suggested that the roadway stay as it is.

"Is it literally crumbling? Is it something we have to do immediately? I say no. All the roads – we have potholes, we have issues with all our expressways," Ford told reporters.

But according to a City of Toronto assessment that was released in April, keeping the status quo would cost the city an estimated $864 million.

With a report from CTV Toronto's Natalie Johnson