Lawyers consider mid-pen agreement; Council to receive legal viewpoint on terms of reference

Wed 10 Sep 2003 - Burlington Post - Byline: Dennis Smith

A written agreement over the mid-peninsula highway was being scrutinized by
city lawyers after the document arrived yesterday (Tuesday).

The mayor's executive assistant, Fran Agnew, said a legal viewpoint will be
obtained on the tentative deal sent yesterday by the provincial Ministry of

She said no special council meeting is planned to consider the agreement.
The next regular council meeting is slated for Sept. 29.

Burlington's council has sought a new terms of reference for an
environmental assessment of the highway, proposed from Niagara to the
Hamilton/Halton area. City officials fear it will be connected to Hwy. 407
in Burlington.

A recent meeting with Transportation Minister Frank Klees and municipal
officials produced consensus on some key issues concerning the
mid-peninsula project.

There was agreement to establish an advisory group to allow for all
stakeholders to have input as the process moved forward and to have rail
and transit alternatives added into the terms of reference.

Another important issue for city council is protecting the Niagara
Escarpment from cuts for construction and other concerns.

"We need to strongly protect the environmentally-sensitive escarpment from
the potentially-damaging impacts of the proposed mid-peninsula highway,"
MacIsaac said last week.

He would not comment on the tentative agreement yesterday, pending the
lawyer's review of the document.

Council held a special meeting last week to discuss the potential
settlement, but was limited because it had not received the written agreement.
However it endorsed having an advisory group and recommended it include
representatives from municipalities involved, plus various organizations.
Council also recommended that Citizens Opposed to Paving the Escarpment and
the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment should each have a representative
on the advisory group.

But a decision concerning Burlington and Halton's lawsuit over
mid-peninsula plans was deferred pending the outcome of ongoing negotiations.
The legal action prompted the province to withdraw its previous terms of
reference earlier this summer.

A provincial spokesperson said ministry staff have worked on the written
agreement since the meeting of the minister and municipal officials and
were finalizing it late last week.

He said Premier Ernie Eves' announcement last week of a provincial election
for Oct. 2 does not affect the proposed highway agreement.

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