Too late for 'visioning'

The Hamilton Spectator - Letters to the Editor Feb. 24, 2003

RE: 'Niagara chair calls for 'smart' transit plan' (Feb. 20).

In this article, Niagara chair Debbie Zimmerman advocates a "visionary" and "long view" of transportation planning that encompasses several modes, including rail.

Readers should not be confused however: The mid-peninsula highway planning process officially moved past the point at which options other than a highway can be considered on Feb. 1, when the Ontario Transportation Ministry released the terms of reference for the environmental assessment: It may consider only one highway route compared to a slightly different route. In other words, construction of a new highway is now a given. With respect to mid-peninsula transportation, talk of "visionary" planning now amounts to empty rhetoric.

The Niagara region has provided the main push behind this highway, starting when it substantially funded the "impartial" study that not surprisingly determined there was a need for the highway in the first place.

Protection of tender fruit lands is the reason most often cited by Niagara in its push to construct another major highway away from the QEW. While this is a noble goal, one wonders why protection of the fruitlands has been given a much higher priority than protection of the escarpment in Hamilton and Burlington, and protection of the wetlands, woodlots, wildlife, family farms and small communities along the 130-kilometre highway corridor.

If the shoe were on the other foot, the "logic" emanating from Niagara would deem it acceptable for Burlington to develop and finance a transportation strategy that protected the escarpment but had the byproduct of paving the fruitlands in Niagara.

By all means, Niagara should protect its tenderfruit lands, but it shouldn't allow its solution to do irreparable harm to our escarpment, our conservation areas, and our Bruce Trail.

-- Dave Eckersley, Hamilton.

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