The Hamilton Spectator - Letter to the Editor
Re: Groups merge for GTA highway
fight February 5, 2011 Edition

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 transit.

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.

Susan McMaster
Citizens Opposed to Paving the Escarpment


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