In regards to your recent coverage on groups uniting to fight the Niagara GTA highway,
I’d like to point out the following. The 7 groups represent approximately
4000 people. Citizens Opposed to Paving the Escarpment alone is 1000. Also,
as a coalition, we are continually growing in numbers.
An immediate focus for the group is the Regional Official Plan Amendment 38; the Ministry
of Municipal Affairs and Housing directed Halton Region to include a portion of highway
not seen before in the official plan. Ministry of Transportation (MTO) spokesperson
Kelly Baker is quoted as saying the arrow indicating a highway was “conceptual.” What
caused our coalition great alarm is that there is nothing “conceptual” about
an “official” plan. That’s why it’s called “official.”
Baker goes on to say the current government has taken steps to conduct research to
determine if a highway is actually needed. The comment that “plans also
include looking at a number of measures including transit and rail” is misleading. For
the portion of highway from Niagara to Hamilton, which has been deemed unnecessary,
the MTO determined in the most recent draft report that demand could be met by expanding
the existing QEW – adding high occupancy vehicles lanes – along with expanded
One portion of highway still in the plan runs from the 403 in Ancaster to the 407,
once it has cut through North Burlington. Other than a highway, no other transportation
method was considered for this section. Our review of the MTO’s report
indicates rail was not given serious consideration as an option. Since rail is
under federal jurisdiction, the provincial and federal levels of government would have
had to meaningfully engage. We saw evidence of this. Consideration of transit
is not apparent either.
Reasoning provided in the MTO’s draft report for paving a highway through Flamborough
and North Burlington’s agriculturally and environmentally significant areas includes
relieving congestion in Toronto. It is evident by its location that this highway
would not do so.
The other reference is to economic benefits, historically meaning development. While
the world is dealing with drought and failing crops, the most recent in China, the
provincial government along with Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak have failed
to calculate the economic benefit of being able to feed the Canadian population. Rather
than safeguard our food supply and eco-systems, it is being offered up for development.
In 2002, this highway was a bad idea. In 2011, it’s even worse.
Citizens Opposed to Paving the Escarpment