Star, March 7, 03
— Massive expansion of Ontario's 400-series highways will dramatically
change the Guelph landscape, says an official with an agency that monitors
development impacts on the Niagara Escarpment.
is going to be a hotbed for sprawl in all directions," said Jason Thorne,
executive director of the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment, following
the recent release of the draft report from the Central Ontario Smart
said a conceptual map in the report showing Guelph at the crossroads
of two new expressways is only part of the picture. The Ontario ministry
of transportation is also embarking on an environmental assessment for
a "mid-peninsula highway" that could reroute all of the trucks heading
from the U.S. border to the Greater Toronto Area onto Highway 401 near
to be a nightmare for commuters, and a massive air pollution problem,
of course," said Thorne.
the "smart growth'' and mid-peninsula proposals is a ministry plan to
build a new expressway parallel to Highway 7 between Highway 400 and
the Hanlon Expressway.
is definitely at the intersection of two proposed major new expressways,"
said Thorne, who believes most people in Guelph have no idea how much
highway development is being contemplated in their backyard.
most of the proposals are still at the conceptual stage, Guelph environmental
planner Shannon Smith is concerned.
'if it is built they will come' mentality," she said.
not address congestion," she said, and it does not promote the principles
in the province's smart-growth initiative.
more lanes has been proven to not address gridlock. It just exacerbates
instead of spending so much to subsidize roads, the province should
be investing in movement of goods and people by rail.
proposal, designed to get trucks off the Queen Elizabeth Way and away
from tourism traffic, is the closest to becoming a reality. There appears
to be support for the section from Niagara and around the south end
of Hamilton. But there was intense opposition to linking a mid-peninsula
highway to the 407 at Burlington. The ministry responded by adding three
more options, including one that would link up to the 401 east of Highway
6. Thorne sees this as the compromise solution.
major traffic headaches for anyone trying to get from Guelph, Kitchener
or Cambridge to the GTA," he said.
coalition of 30 organizations has been a watchdog for 25 years for the
750-kilometre-long escarpment, which was designated by the United Nations
in 1990 as a world biosphere reserve. The coalition is warning that
no matter which highway option is chosen, there will irrevocable ecological
will be squeezed between sprawl on both sides."