Mid-pen highway to receive full EA
Local officials cautiously optimistic

Dec 17, 2003 - Dennis Smith - The Burlington Post

News that the proposed mid-peninsula highway will get a full environmental assessment is being greeted with cautious optimism locally.

A Ministry of Transportation spokesperson confirmed the province has committed to a full EA for the proposal, which includes a highway between Niagara and Hamilton/Halton.

"Ministry staff have been instructed to review the environmental and public consultation work done to date, then it will move forward," said Will Mackenzie.

He could not estimate how long the work would take or when the EA would start.

The project was halted last summer when Burlington and Halton filed a lawsuit over mid-peninsula planning, arguing there were unreasonable suggestions for the highway, with little regard for Halton residents' interests.

Local officials fear the new road will be connected to Hwy. 407 near Walker's Line.

Transportation minister Harinder Takhar made the EA commitment recently after being questioned in the provincial legislature.

Burlington councillor John Taylor was pleased, with a few reservations.

He said it's important Halton officials and others interested examine the Terms of Reference for the Environmental Assessment.

"We need to ensure it's a full EA that includes a needs assessment and looks at alternate means of transportation in a more complete way than the first study did and sets up evaluation criteria in a fairer way than the first proposal did," said Taylor.

He said the government should go right back to the beginning with a full EA.

"That's my definition of a full environmental assessment and I'm delighted to see the minister calling for a full EA as well," he said.

The vice-chair of Citizens Opposed to Paving the Escarpment said the minister's commitment is a positive step overall.

"The full EA means they'll look at all the options, include railway versus highway," said Sue McMaster. "But we're still looking to see a more global approach to transportation in Ontario."

COPE opposes any new highways on the Niagara Escarpment. However, McMaster notes there's a strong push from Niagara to move ahead with the mid-peninsula highway.

"But there's a 30-year horizon here, so we can put a bit of consideration into this," she said. "We need to consider everyone's interests, including Niagara, Burlington and Halton."

McMaster said COPE members have requested a meeting with the transportation minister and other new political players.

"You can never relax with these type of things," she said.

Besides Hwy. 407, other possible linkups for the proposed highway include an expanded Hwy. 403 on Hamilton Mountain, Hwy. 401 west of Milton and Hwy. 6 in Flamborough.



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