Re: Ms. Zimmerman in St. Catharines Standard

July 17, 03

Response to St. Catharines Standard article in which Debbie Zimmerman, Niagara Region Chair, expressed impatience about the pace of the MPH planning and approvals process thus far.

To the Editor, St. Catharines Standard, re:  Highway delays stretch patience: Zimmerman wants meeting to discuss holdup in environmental assessment, July 16.

So Niagara Regional Chair Debbie Zimmerman is becoming impatient at what she describes as the 'protracted process' of planning the Mid-Peninsula highway. 

What she describes as protracted, many others have described as hurried.  The process thus far has been rushed to the point that Burlington and Halton had to take the distasteful step of threatening legal action in order to slow the process to the point where their concerns now have some small chance of being heard.

Throughout this process, the needs of Niagara, as articulated by Ms. Zimmerman, have seemed to be paramount, while the concerns of those of us at the other end of the corridor have been ignored or discounted.

All we ask is that the Niagara Escarpment (which is a world biosphere reserve, an honour it shares with the Galapagos Islands, the Florida Everglades, and other significant, valuable and beautiful ecosystems around the world) be given the same level of protection as Niagara's tender fruit regions.

In addition to the damage the Mid-Pen would do by traversing the Escarpment, it also would impact on hundreds of wetlands, forests, the habitats of thousands of species (some endangered or threatened), family farms, and homes at this end of the corridor.

Given that even the Ministry of Transport (who are gung-ho to get going on the project) has recognized the need for further study, one would have hoped that Ms. Zimmerman had looked beyond the borders of her own region and recognized the 'big picture' as to the impacts construction of the Mid-Pen would have along its entire length, and for the province as a whole.

Sadly, it appears she has not done so.

The government has still not demonstrated a need for the highway, it is slated to cost upwards of $1.5 billion, it will permanently scar the Escarpment and do untold other environmental damage, it will further degrade our air quality, it has not been demonstrated that drivers will be willing to pay its tolls, and it's not even planned to run along the most efficient route, according to MTO's own documents.

Does this sound like a project that should be rushed?  We've learned what happens when the government rushes ahead with big projects (electricity privatization is an example).

Let's learn from our mistakes, rather than repeating them.



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