Demand doesn't justify cost: COPE

Dennis Smith - Special to the The Flamborough Post Feb. 28,2003.

Will Smart Growth help keep the controversial mid peninsula highway from this area?

That was one question posed at a recent public meeting Tuesday in Burlington.

Participating in the meeting was the grassroots and fast-growing Citizen's Opposed to Paving the Escarpment as well as the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment. The Ministry of Transportation were not involved in this meeting.

Those in attendance were able to learn about the Central Ontario Smart Growth Panel's recent discussion paper. Sitting on that panel is Burlington Mayor Rob MacIsaac.

"It's premature to say the panel is opposed to the highway going through (this area)," he said after the meeting. "But things are encouraging."

The Smart Growth panel hasn't specifically addressed the proposed highway from Niagara to Hamilton/Halton, MacIsaac told the Post.

But it has endorsed the concept of a trade corridor starting at the United States border in Niagara that goes around the Greater Toronto Area.

"The highway is not viewed as an extension of Hwy. 407," said MacIsaac. "It skirts the GTA and Hamilton."

He added the panel doesn't necessarily favour having the mid peninsula route connect with Hwy. 401 west of Milton.

That is one of four possible connections for the proposed road. Other alternatives under consideration include connections with Hwy. 407 in Burlington, Hwy. 6 in Flamborough or Hwy. 403 on Hamilton Mountain.

Area residents have demanded more time for the environment assessment terms of reference stage, which determines how to examine the route or its alternatives.

Currently, the public has until March 17 to respond to the draft document and approximately April 30 to reply to the formal terms of reference.

Alternatives for the proposed highway were criticized by the vice-chair of COPE in a press release.

"The four possible routes left on the table for consideration are all indirect. They add between 21 and 56 kilometres to the Toronto to Fort Erie trip and will probably be tolled as well," said Troy's Susan McMaster. "COPE does not see sufficient demand for the MPH materializing to justify its $1.2 billion cost and the environmental damage it will cause if built."

She stated that Smart Growth principles are contravened because, if built, the mid peninsula highway would not use existing infrastructure and it would not minimize environmental damage, as it could cut the escarpment and impact on hundreds of wetlands, forests, streams and wildlife habitat.

Ministry representatives have argued that expanded transit, railways and roadways are all required to meet projected Golden Horseshoe growth of 2.5 million people in 20 years.
They've also said management of transportation systems is also needed to meet trade and transportation growth, plus increased congestion expected for the area.

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