Highways not the only answer to traffic congestion: reader

Letters to the Editor Flamborough Post
Mar 5, 2003

Dear Editor:
Re: Letter from Mr. Bradley Reaume, Feb. 7, The Flamborough Post.

The gentleman's letter on the proposed mid-peninsula highway seems to demand a response. To address his four main points:

Would the province enjoy the same level of prosperity if the QEW had never been built?

No, absolutely not. But the same holds true for the invention of the wheel and the use of horses to deliver mail. Eventually, we find better ways to do things. There are better, cleaner, cheaper, and more efficient ways to deal with the traffic in Niagara that the government says is going to become congested over the next 30 years. Some of these include improvements to existing road networks, improved transit for people and improved rail for freight.

New highways don't automatically deliver magical economic prosperity - MTO has been unable to produce a shred of evidence that the 407 ETR has created any kind of real growth.

While it may have induced a few firms to locate in one part of the GTA rather than another, this "economic growth" has perhaps been offset by the billions of dollars vacuumed up in tolls by the out-of-province owners of the road.

Second, he belittles the potential damage to the escarpment and the Niagara Peninsula the highway would cause because it's "only 200 metres wide."

As most of us are aware, the detrimental effects of a project like this spread well beyond its footprint or actual size.

Air quality experts from McMaster University talk about reduced air quality 25 km from major highways. The highway would destroy wildlife habitat and movement corridors.

Animals need large territories available in which to move to safety, to rear young, and to locate mates.

Run-off from highways is one of the most toxic things you can put in a watercourse or wetland. Every time it rains, gas, oil, rubber, salt, and various heavy metals wash off the road and into the water system. Those systems are the first and primary filter of your eventual tap water.

What the writer calls development, many call urban sprawl - gas stations and big box stores spreading along one of the last wild unspoiled areas in southern Ontario would be seen by many as a step backward.

Third, on the toll issue, the writer should take a good hard look at the 407 with its four or five recent toll increases.

Those ever-increasing toll revenues leave the province and provide no economic stimulus whatsoever. It's a lovely idea that the tolls will be lifted when the road is paid for, but a look at the 407 suggests that it won't happen.

And fourth, the writer states that, "It is obvious that the biggest hole in Ontario's major highway network is the route from Hamilton to Guelph, Kitchener and Cambridge."

To this I can only say, "huh?" Does he mean for snowmobiles?

Dave Eckersley,

Troy

(Mr. Eckersley is a member of Citizens Opposed to the Paving the Escarpment, or COPE).


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