Special to the Review
February 06, 2003
WELLAND - "This is craziness."
by Fort Erie resident Al Seburn seemed to sum up the feelings of most
of the more than 100 people at the Royal Canadian Legion Wednesday night
for the latest public information meeting regarding the mid-peninsula
was the second of three this week by the Ministry of Transportation
to present its proposed terms of reference for the corridor's environmental
meeting is planned tonight in Rockton on the heels of a raucous meeting
Monday night in Burlington, where more than 400 people gathered to quiz
officials and consultants on plans for the 130-kilometre, $1.2-billion
mega-highway stretching from the U.S. border in Fort Erie to Burlington.
The plan is to link it up with existing highways at either the 403 in
Hamilton or the 407 in Burlington.
of the plan's opponents, Seburn is concerned about environmental issues.
He is convinced there must be alternatives.
a step backwards to me,'' said Seburn. "Other jurisdictions throughout
the world are all looking at alternatives for vehicle gridlock and most
of them are turning to public transportation systems.
to me it's a done deal no matter what we say."
Opposed to Paving the Escarpment (COPE) vice-chairman Dave Eckersley
was at the meeting - his 14th. He said his group of more than 1,000
plan to keep attending meetings and making their voices heard.
feel that, environmentally, the highway is an incredibly bad idea,''
said Eckersley. "And there are problems with MTO's process, which
as been opaque, misleading and rushed. The documentation is flawed,
according to all the professionals we've had look at it.
they haven't established that there's the demand for this highway. We
aren't saying there isn't a congestion on the QEW, but what we are saying
is that it could be solved with strategic widening to the QEW, along
with some improvements to transit."
said COPE began with just five people last summer and the task of scuttling
the project seemed overwhelming, but he said some progress has been
think we're starting to make a dent, but it is an uphill battle,'' said
Eckersley. "Their budget is $1.3 billion to build the thing and
our budget is what we can scrape up from our members.
"But, on the other hand, we've got the high side the argument.
Our argument is let's protect the environment. Let's protect the air
quality. Let's do transportation in a smarter way. Their argument is
let's throw some more SUVs and trucks onto the Niagara Escarpment."
Garofalo of Welland is another opponent of the project.
have a problem with the needs assessment aspect of it. I don't think
that has been addressed,'' he said. "I commuted every day for two
years from St. Catharines to Burlington and not once did I hit traffic,
except for the odd snowstorm. The traffic always starts at Guelph Line,
where the 403 meets the QEW."
me, the need hasn't been addressed and there are many other alternatives."
information officer for the central region of the ministry, said Wednesday's
meeting was typical of the ones that preceded it.
been hearing a lot of these same comments all the way through and we
are listening,'' said MacKenzie. "I think the people have already
made a difference in a lot of ways.
confident the need is there,'' added MacKenzie. "You've got to
remember we're looking many years ahead. The last time a process like
this was done was route was chosen for the 407 - that was 30 something
years ago and it wasn't built until five years ago.
we're looking at is that in the future, when the road becomes absolutely
necessary, (and) how can we make sure we've protected the route from
development. We need to tell the municipalities, so they can plan.
a fine balance between protecting the needs of the environment and economic
needs. That's what this environmental assessment is all about."