RELEASE Sept 29, 02
Robert Bateman calls proposed highway "Horror Story"
-- Artist and environmentalist Robert Bateman calls the Ontario
Government's proposed $1.2-billion highway that would cut through
the Niagara Escarpment a "horror story."
Escarpment is "an absolute jewel of rough country, just given
as a gift to the people of Ontario," Bateman said Saturday.
was at Spencer Gorge Wilderness Area north of Hamilton to add
his voice to the growing grassroots protest over the Provincial
plan to build the new multi-lane Mid-Peninsula Highway from Fort
Erie to Burlington.
Escarpment "is a gift handed to the people of Ontario, and
now of course, it's a World Heritage Site, so it's a gift handed
to the people of the world," Bateman, 72, told a crowd of
citizens at a press conference hosted by COPE -- Citizens Opposed
to Paving the Escarpment -- at Tew's Falls, which cascades over
the edge of the Escarpment near Dundas.
got to grow up, and get out of this adolescent stage and get better
plans for transportation," Bateman said in an earlier interview,
"we're wiping out our natural and human heritage."
June, more than 1000 residents of the affected area have banded
together to form COPE. They are concerned about the environmental
and human impacts of what they call an unnecessary highway: A
permanently scarred Escarpment, increased smog from more traffic,
global warming, loss of wildlife habitat and agricultural land,
the destruction of the fabric of small town rural life, and urban
COPE has been a vocal presence at Ontario Ministry of Transportation
public meetings across Southern Ontario. Thursday's meeting in
Burlington even drew local MPP Cam Jackson, Minister of Tourism
highway is a short-sighted effort to deal with transportation
issues," said Cope Chairman Brendan Kelly. "Alternatives
such as improved public transit and rail would do the job without
damaging the environment and ripping the Escarpment in two. The
fact that Mr. Bateman is deeply concerned shows that this issue
is important to all of us, not only those who live in the proposed
who lived on the Escarpment in Burlington for 26 years before
moving to British Columbia, added, "I was hoping Ontario
had gotten beyond its 19th century mentality regarding development."
about his tenure as a Niagara Escarpment Commissioner, Bateman
said, "I was a charter member, appointed by Bill Davis. We
were asked to make a plan for the Escarpment that was compatible
with natural and human heritage." The current Tory government
has made "
an effort from on high to emasculate and
" quality staff work of the Commission. The
attitude of the current Ontario Government about the environment
is "just terrible."
Province claims the highway is needed to alleviate traffic congestion
on the QEW between Fort Erie and Burlington. The highway is slated
to connect with the 407 in Burlington.
an internationally recognized wildlife artist, credits the Escarpment
with inspiring his earliest works. "The escarpment was a
of my life."
He blames Government budget cuts for these poor planning decisions.
"Walkerton tells you what happens when you cut staff and
680 News has audio and has been broadcasting the story 9/29. Hamilton
Spectator has many stories on file for background.