Full environmental assessment should be done
on new highway
The Standard (St. Catharines - Niagara) Tue
07 Oct 2003 Byline: Jason Thorne
In your Sept. 27 editorial Get your act on the road,
you wrote that a full environmental assessment for the mid- peninsula
highway would result in unacceptable costs and delays. Instead, you
support a scoped assessment in which the smart growth option -- combining
improvements to existing roads, investment in transit, and transportation
demand management -- would not be given any consideration.
The Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment (CONE) believes
this highway is unnecessary. It would destroy our escarpment. Hundreds
of acres of prime farmland would be lost to urban sprawl. Smog across
the peninsula would worsen. Taxpayers would be out of pocket more than
$1.2 billion, plus millions more in toll charges.
CONE believes the smart growth option is the better
option. But we aren't asking anyone to take our word for it. CONE is
willing to put our claims to the test as part of a full environmental
assessment. Why are highway proponents not willing to do the same? If
they are so sure their arguments are correct, what do they have to fear?
The existing needs assessment study is insufficient
justification to cut off debate about smart growth solutions. The technical
problems with that study are just too numerous.
The Niagara Escarpment Commission agrees. So do
several affected municipalities. And, according to an April 2003 Oracle
Poll, more than 82 per cent of Niagara residents also want to see the
smart growth option examined before construction begins on a new highway.
CONE believes scoping the assessment has nothing to do with saving time
and money. Its purpose is really to guarantee a new highway gets built,
whether or not a new highway is the best of all possible solutions.
The Liberal party promised, during the campaign,
to hold a full environmental assessment and to examine the smart growth
option. CONE looks forward to participating and we hope highway supporters
will do the same.
Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment Willow Street