New highway costs too much

Hamilton Spectator – February 17, 2011

Re: Highway arguments accelerate (Feb. 14)

John Dolbec, CEO of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, would have me believe that “local firms won’t be able to compete” if the Niagara-GTA Corridor is not built. He says 40 per cent of the local economy is at risk. Really? So our biggest competitive threat is the length of time it takes to drive from the GTA to the United States?

The last time I drove from Hamilton to the U.S. border, it took 90 minutes. At what travel time does 40 per cent of our economy stop competing? I recall the chamber told me all the planes flying to and from the aerotropolis would handle the time-sensitive goods and provide the easy access to U.S. markets. Are the promised jobs from the Niagara-GTA corridor in addition to the promised jobs from the aerotropolis?

PC Leader Tim Hudak and Dolbec want to pave a huge amount of the best farmland in North America and devastate portions of the environmentally significant Niagara Escarpment to solve their problems. I expect their new road would also carry U.S. goods north to the GTA. With our farmland gone, do they also want to replace our agricultural capability with trucks of vegetables from Mexico and California? Is the inevitable loss of jobs in our agricultural sector included in their analysis?

The promised new jobs are just too expensive, coming at the cost of our farmland, our existing agricultural jobs and our environment. Use the acres of land within our city limits with ready access to existing infrastructure and skilled people who want and need jobs. And only 90 minutes from the U.S. border. Just move your businesses there and you will save the 60 minutes it takes to drive from Toronto to Stoney Creek.

The dire warnings are alarmist. The promises of long-term jobs are not real. The farmland is real. The Niagara Escarpment is real.

October’s provincial election cannot come fast enough.

Jim Sweetman, Dundas

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