Citizens Opposed to Paving the Escarpment
P.O. Box 20014
, 2211 Brant Street
Burlington, ON, L7P 0A4
May 6, 2005
Provincial and Environmental Planning Office
Ontario Ministry of Transportation
301 St. Paul Street
St. Catharines, Ontario
Re: Niagara to GTA Corridor Environmental Assessment Terms of Reference
Dear Mr. Slobodzian:
After reviewing the draft
Environmental Assessment Terms of Reference, Citizens Opposed to Paving
the Escarpment (COPE) have the following comments for your consideration.
It is premature to move ahead with the
Niagara-GTA Corridor Environmental Assessment (EA) Terms of Reference
(TOR) prior to the approval of the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden
Horseshoe and the proposed Transportation Strategy. These plans are
also intended to address growth and future direction of the Golden Horseshoe
to 2031. We understand that the Transportation study will identify
any provincial problems and propose potential long-term strategic solutions
within the context of the Growth Plan. COPE recommends that this
TOR process be held in abeyance until these other plans are finalized;
to ensure a cohesive approach to transportation planning.
As stated on page 3, "this document
... supercedes the document from May 2003." This clearly indicates
the relationship of this process to the Mid Peninsula Highway process.
The presentation at the Public Information Centres (PIC) included a
board stating that the GTA - Niagara corridor is not MPH. This is not
true and misleading to the public. This process is a continuation
to the MPH and should be represented to the public as such.
There are many improvements to the Niagara-GTA Corridor Draft TOR over
the original Mid Pen TOR. We are providing the following suggestions
for further improving the document. These comments are submitted for
your consideration at the appropriate time.
1. Introduction Paragraph two
states: "the EA process will confirm the transportation problems
and opportunities..." This statement indicates that problems or
need has been pre-determined without the appropriate study. This flaw
was a fundamental flaw in the MPH process as well and highlights the need
to hold this process in abeyance until the Growth and Transportation Plans
The forecasting and planning referred to is based on 20th
century assumptions. Sustainable Development is often defined as "meeting
our needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet
theirs". All of us are aware of the link between greenhouse
gas emissions and global warming and the evidence that an increasing proportion
of greenhouse gas emissions originate in the transportation sector. It
is not enough for a corridor to simply provide room for more transportation
vehicles of whatever type. It must provide for the type of transportation
that produces the least amounts of these emissions, that has the least
impact on our natural areas and agricultural lands and on the quality
of our air and water. These considerations must take priority over convenience
and "business as usual" approaches, including forecasting and
1.3.2 Co-ordinated EA Process for MTO Projects
Document A in the
Supporting Documentation of the Draft TOR outlines that the proponent
will be guided by the requirements of both the federal and provincial
environmental assessments acts and that information is to be provided
for CEAA which includes “effects due to climate change”. The government
of Canada has ratified the Kyoto Protocol and put forward
the Climate Change Plan for Canada. The plan includes measures that will
slow the growth in transportation GHG emissions; however, achieving these
reductions will require “substantial investment in technological innovation
and infrastructure, changes in the way goods are moved and changes in
the travel behavior of individual Canadians” (page 59, Transport Canada,
Straight Ahead – A Vision for Transportation in Canada”).
Hard data must be supplied
that shows how the proposed Niagara /GTA Corridor will comply with Canada’s
commitment to reducing its reliance on fossil-fuel burning vehicles.
This would include total CO2 load for each alternative including the
construction phase, operating of the equipment of that alternative (Trucks,
trains, ships etc) and maintenance of the infrastructure over a 30-year
period. COPE also recommends that the weighing factors include tonnes
of CO2 for each alternative as described above.
The first-time, unprecedented
smog alert that was declared this winter (February 2005) for the entire
GTA/Niagara Peninsula should serve as a wake-up call that air quality
and public health must be given priority.
1.4 Statement of Proponency
The Ministry of Transportation
is identified as the sole proponent for this process. As stated in
the draft TOR, the MTO does not have expertise in all possible transportation
alternatives. To effectively address all possible modes of transportation,
the proponency should not be limited to the MTO.
2.1 Policy Framework
and Other Government Initiatives
Although various papers,
plans and policies have been identified as establishing the policy framework
for this TOR, there are glaring omissions that should be part of
this process including:
- The Niagara Escarpment Plan
- The Growth Plan
- The Golden Horseshoe Transportation
- The Kyoto Protocol
- The Parkway Belt West Plan
2.3. Transportation Problems and Opportunities
9: The Greenbelt Plan is cited as permitting "new or improved
transportation infrastructure..." No mention of what is discouraged
is mentioned which gives the appearance of a bias towards infrastructure.
11: The supposed potential for the John C. Munro Hamilton International
Airport was a factor in the MPH process and continues to be an influencing
factor in this new process. It is cited as a "future economic
growth centre and major development area in the region." However
the potential is questionable. The document states that the airport
handled 900,000 passengers in 2001 despite the drop to 700,000 last
year. Statistics Canada recently reported that aircraft movements at
Hamilton's airport fell 13% last year from 111,170 flights in 2001 to
82,251 flights in 2004. This is the fourth straight year of decline;
leaving Mount Hope as the twentieth most active Canadian airport. The
impact of the Jetsgo shutdown earlier this year is NOT reflected in
these figures. (The report is available at: www.tc.gc.ca/pol/en/Report/TP577/tp577.htm.)
current data is being utilized in this TOR process, information regarding
the Hamilton Airport must be revised and the forecasts adjusted to reflect
Page 12: Growing Congestion.
The concern for congestion on the 403 and QEW in Hamilton is used
to demonstrate a supposed problem. It is stated that these highways
are the only major freeways in the area. This statement sounds like
a problem has been identified prior to the commencement of the process
and the need for another highway has already been determined. This
example should be removed. It is premature and lacks balance; it does
not recognize that there are no other transit choices available in the
Page 19 “Trade related
goods movement BY TRUCK is expected to grow along this trade corridor
by 3% to 6% per annum between 2001 and 2031 creating significant strain
on the existing transportation network.” This statement appears
to be biased as it assumes trucks to be the primary mode of transportation
in the future. The words “by truck” should be removed.
The Draft states: “Rail,
marine, air, and truck providers will be consulted during the EA to
determine future rail trends and planning initiatives” (2.3. page 11),
but it will do so in Phase II of the EA. It is imperative that rail,
air and marine providers play a significant role in EA Process Phase
I “Identify & Assess Alternatives to the Undertaking” (Exhibit 4.1a).
2.4. Summary of the Purpose of the Undertaking
“The specific need for any
proposed undertaking(s) and a description of the proposed undertaking(s)
will be developed during the initial phases of the EA study.” The
word "developed" indicates that a need WILL BE identified.
The word "determined" should be used indicating that the process
is new and the outcome not pre-determined. Also, one of the biggest
problems with the original MPH was that no need was actually determined.
4. Description and
Statement of Rationale for Alternatives
Regarding phase I of the EA, we recommend that the transportation
demands be split into three groups; one addressing transportation
needs of commuters; one addressing the needs of the freight transportation
industry; and a third addressing the needs in support of tourism.
There are several factors supporting this approach:
- The best transportation alternative may differ between groups.
- A solution to the transportation needs
of one group may alleviate the needs of other groups.
- It facilitates a more innovative process
and the opportunity to identify numerous solutions that work in concert,
rather than attempting to solve all issues with one solution.
- The weight and importance assigned to
the needs of each category, when selecting solutions, will be evident.
4.2 Assessment of
Alternatives to the Undertaking
The criteria for the “assessment
of alternatives to the undertaking” are transportation, economy and
environment. The weight assigned to each needs to be determined
with public input (including COPE) and reflect societal goals, not just
industrial goals. Our past transportation choices have taken an
increasing toll on our environment and health; this reality must be
a factor in this process and be given appropriated standing. Business
as usual is not acceptable.
4.3 Selection of the Preferred Alternative(s) to the Undertaking
We are concerned that the Ministry of Transportation, at the end
of EA Phase I, is prepared to “walk away” from any transportation
alternative falling outside its mandate. It is expected that the
MTO be familiar with all possible transportation alternatives and
include authorities who have the appropriate expertise from the commencement
of the process. This will allow for an unbiased assessment of
the merits of each option. To facilitate this approach:
- Identify, at the beginning of EA Phase I, those transportation
alternatives outside the MTO's mandate and area of expertise.
- Inform the relevant private sector
and/or Government Ministry (Federal or Provincial), prior to the commencement
of the process to allow for their assistance in the preparation of
and approval of any Phase II EA plans. Also, ensure that during the
EA, the efficiency of the non-MTO process be on par with studies completed
for transportation alternatives within the MTO’s mandate.
This section highlights the need for the MTO to co-ordinate their efforts
with other authorities to ensure a comprehensive approach to infrastructure
planning in the area.
5.1 Process for Generating Study Area
MTO is focusing too narrowly on the Niagara Peninsula, ignoring other
parts of the province. The study area should be expanded to South
Western Ontario, including Waterloo-Wellington, London and Windsor,
as well as Lakes Ontario and Erie. There are several factors supporting
- The document“ Places to Grow” indicates considerable population
growth in Waterloo-Wellington.
- Windsor is home to the busiest land
border crossing in Canada.
- As recently reported by Statistics Canada, although the Waterloo and
London airports both recorded a drop in the number of annual flights,
both airports are busier that the Hamilton airport.
- As a major artery, Highway 401's existing and future capacity deserve
study and consideration.
- If marine transportation options (i.e.
the Rochester Ferry) are to be considered, Lakes Ontario and Erie must
- CN's major rail corridor between Windsor / Sarnia and Montreal already
exists and deserves consideration in an expanded future role.
5.5 Evaluation of Alternative
The Reasoned Argument (Trade-off) Method is the primary evaluation
method, yet it is the most open to interpretation, vague in how it will
be applied and lends itself to the most abuse. We recommend that
this be the secondary method and the Arithmetic Evaluation be the primary
The last item in the Arithmetic
Evaluation Component (Table 5.2) is “Cost.” The determination of cost
for the MPH was narrowly defined and highly flawed. Cost in this process
must address all costs associated with an alternative. For example:
How will the cost of a new highway, in terms of construction costs,
size of right of way and maintenance, compare to that of a new railway?
- How much of the cost can be saved by using existing infrastructure?
- Equalization equation to account for all government subsidies.
- Cost to taxpayer at federal, provincial and municipal level for servicing
and maintenance of option.
- Cost to counteract effects of transportation choice (i.e.: water
filtration, health care cost).
- Impact of including a private partner.
- Impact on usage and cost considering the ever increasing price of
gas / oil.
- Impact on usage and cost if tolling is a possibility.
The description of who will monitor the process and how progress will
be monitored is vague. We recommend that a group, including COPE,
be created to participate in the monitoring function.
Public Information Centres and Follow-up Activities
Additional PIC’s are needed for Phase II: one for the “Define the
Study Area” and another for the Criteria and Weightings portion.
“The PICs will be arranged as drop-in centres (open house format) to
allow the public to see results, exchange information, and ask one-on-one
questions of the Project Team. The PICs serve an important function
in providing for two-way communications on specific local conditions,
issues and concerns regarding the study.” We recommend that the format
be altered to allow a presentation by the MTO of important points and
a Question and Answer session. This would ensure all in attendance
are aware of concerns and suggestions of others. It also provides for
a better opportunity for participants to understand and appreciate the
views of others. The current format ensures a one-way direction of
communication from the MTO to the participants. Participants comments
will be fractured, lacking the insight that would be present with informed,
7.6 Municipal consult
The only regions / municipalities listed as stakeholders are Niagara,
Hamilton and Halton. To ensure a fresh perspective on the process
and provide balance and legitimacy to the Executive Municipal
Advisory Group, additional stakeholders must be included. With
the expansion of the study area, as suggested above, this could include
Waterloo-Wellington as well as other regions from South Western Ontario.
On a positive note we would like to add that commitment to an "un-scoped
EA" and to considering all alternatives to resolve transportation
problems is encouraging. The inclusion of the "do nothing"
option and use of current data is also encouraging. We are pleased
that the current government and the MTO recognize the need to revisit
the transportation needs of the area and hope that the foresight and
the will exist to protect the Niagara Escarpment from the destruction
which more highways will cause.
The Honourable Dalton McGuinty, Premier
The Honourable Harinder Takhar, Minister of Transportation
The Honourable Leona Dombrowsky, Minister of the Environment
The Honourable David Caplan,
Minister of Public Infrastructure Renewal
Ted McMeekin, MPP, Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Aldershot
Mayor Robert MacIsaac, City of Burlington
Joyce Salvoline, Halton Regional Chair
John Taylor, Councillor, City of Burlington
Mayor Larry DiIanni, City of Hamilton
Margaret McCarthy, Councillor, City of Hamilton
David Braden, Councillor, City of Hamilton
Peter Partington, Niagara Regional Chair
Tom Eichenbaum, City of Burlington
Marion Plaunt, Senior Strategic Advisor, Niagara Escarpment Commission
Bradley Shaw, Executive Director, CONE
2002 - 2012 COPE