Progress or ploy?

Burlington Post Editorial July 2, 03

It's hard to know how to take the Ministry of Transportation's sudden capitulation where the mid-peninsula highway is concerned.

After more than a year of community leaders and environmental organizations begging the province to reconsider its plan to have this proposed highway from the Niagara Region cut a swath through the environmentally-sensitive Niagara Escarpment in Burlington, suddenly the ministry is listening.

We wonder what caused the government to suddenly change its position on this issue.

Has the chorus of voices speaking out against the highway finally penetrated the ears of transport minister Frank Klees and Premier Ernie Eves?

Or did a lawsuit filed jointly by the City of Burlington and Halton Region force Klees and Eves to take more seriously the community complaints about the process -- or lack thereof -- for this proposed highway?

Perhaps the provincial election looming in the not-so-distant horizon has made the Tories realize now is not the time for a regional battle with community leaders in an area that has been a Conservative stronghold.

For the time being it really doesn't matter why the minister has suddenly relented. What matters is that the government has acknowledged that it has heard this community's message and the proposed highway will now undergo a more thorough environmental assessment, including a promise that "no interchanges or transit stations" will be located on or near the escarpment.

We hope that Klees' sudden reversal of position is not a pre-election promise he has no intention of keeping.

We are suspicious of the minister's timing and motivation -- waiting until legal proceedings were initiated by the city and region before suddenly becoming willing to re-consider a highway many see as a short-sighted approach to future traffic needs.

Perhaps Klees' actions reveal a Tory government eager to eliminate anything that might distract voters from the party's pre-election advertising campaign.

While the mid-peninsula highway isn't going away, if Klees can't deliver on his promise he just might.


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