Mid-pen has potential to be issue in 11 ridings
P. Moczulski, the Canadian Press
Ernie Eves' election platform calls for building the mid-pen and
other highway projects 'as quickly as possible.'
9, 2003 - The Hamilton Spectator
- Carmela Fragomeni
party's plan to build a mid-peninsula highway from Fort Erie to Burlington
emerge as a significant issue in some local ridings.
highway has the potential to affect 11 ridings: Burlington; Halton;
Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Aldershot; Hamilton East; Hamilton Mountain;
Stoney Creek; Hamilton West; Erie Lincoln; St. Catharines; Niagara Centre,
and Niagara Falls.
from Ancaster to Burlington are opposed to it and local Liberal candidates
say the highway is very much an issue being raised by the public.
Progressive Conservative counterparts disagree, saying it's not.
seems to be getting little discussion in Niagara Peninsula ridings,
where there is general support for the highway.
party's election platform, The Road Ahead, promises to build the mid-pen
and other highway projects "as quickly as possible."
days before the election was announced, Transportation Minister Frank
Klees agreed at a meeting with Hamilton, Burlington and Niagara to seriously
this is the way the City of Burlington and the ministry's own staff
up the discrepancy between party platform and looking at alternatives,
Klees said yesterday he only agreed to look at alternative routes, not
alternatives to the highway.
sure how serious the ministry is about looking at alternatives," says
Dave Eckersley of Citizens Opposed to Paving the Escarpment, a large
grassroots group formed after plans showed the highway cutting through
the escarpment and north of rural Burlington to join the toll-charging
alternatives is one component of a full environmental assessment, which
Burlington residents and the city have been clamouring for.
EA means examining social, economic and natural land effects of the
highway. It also means studying alternatives, such as widening existing
highways or creating superior rail and public transit systems. The ministry's
shortened EA, called a "scoped" EA won't do this.
and NDP parties are committed to doing a full EA study.
Liberal candidate Mark Fuller said health and education are the top
concerns, but about one in five people talk to him about the mid-pen.
They are overwhelmingly against it and frustrated because Klees has
flipped-flopped on the issue, he said. Burlington MPP and Conservative
candidate Cam Jackson, who supports the city's stand, said no one is
bringing up the mid-pen to him as an issue.
MPP and Conservative candidate for the Halton riding, where the Burlington
part of the highway is slated to go, said he's had about 10 phone calls
from people concerned about the mid-pen, but said it's early days yet.
opponent, Barbara Sullivan, echoed Fuller's top concerns of health care
and education, but said the mid-pen is a big deal and it's raised enough
to be significant.
Erie, MPP and Conservative candidate Tim Hudak said a significant majority
of those who talk to him are "looking forward" to the new highway, believing
it will be "an artery for investment and tourism." And NDP candidate
and MPP for Niagara Centre Peter Kormos said no one has mentioned it
in its frustration over the ministry's original hardline stand, recently
went so far as to take the province to court to protect the escarpment
and to force comprehensive study. But in good faith, Burlington put
the court action on hold after Klees promised to try to meet its concerns.
appears that what the city believes it was promised is not what the
minister agreed to. A surprised Burlington Mayor Rob MacIsaac said the
city will not drop its court action until satisfied its interests are
is too much at stake," he said. "I'm just going to wait and see what's
in writing. That's all I can do."
spokesman Bob Nichols said the city will get it in writing today.