Tribune - Tue 11 Mar 2003 - Byline: Janet Baine
are concerned that a new proposed multi-lane highway system for southern
Ontario could see Guelph at the crossroads of two major new highways.
One new highway would potentially run in a horseshoe shape between Fort
Erie and Peterborough, coming along the west side of the city, according
to a map from the Central Ontario Smart Growth Panel, which looked at
growth issues through to 2035.
A potential second highway would go from Guelph east towards the GTA
(running just south of Highway 7) and would head north to Barrie.
Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion chairs the panel that came up with
the idea. It was set up a year ago by the province, and no one from
Guelph is on the panel, although city staff have been aware of the process.
"It looks to me as if that would just drive sprawl," Mayor Karen Farbridge
said of the proposed highways, which are described as "economic corridors"
in the Smart Growth panel report.
Farbridge said it seems to be "extremely contradictory" for the Smart
Growth panel to propose new highways that could exacerbate the development
issues faced in Guelph and other municipalities.
She noted that Burlington and Oakville, which would be bypassed by the
proposal, can more easily make their viewpoints known on such matters,
as they are closer to Toronto.
Brantford, Cambridge and Guelph "are at a tremendous disadvantage" in
participating in this sort of process. "We'll have to put more effort
into that," Farbridge said at Monday's meeting of the city's planning,
environment and transportation (PET) committee.
The city has until March 21 to comment on this report, which was presented
at a public meeting last week in Waterloo.
City staff will write a report and make a presentation on the proposal
at a special meeting of the PET committee on the issue to be held next
Monday at 9:15 a.m. Other city councillors will be invited to attend.
Based on the committee's comments, staff will send comments to the panel
to meet its March 21 deadline. The issue won't get to city council until
A second provincial initiative on transportation is also proposing a
new highway through Guelph. The Ministry of Transportation is proposing
a transportation corridor that would also go in a horseshoe, and it
is about to create the terms of reference to begin an environmental
assessment of the highway. The city has to provide input by March 19.
City staff will provide comments without taking their ideas to a committee
or council, because there is no time.
"The province is managing these processes and may or may not understand
that it takes weeks" for a municipal government to get the information,
digest it, and take the information through committees and council in
order to respond, said manager of policy planning Craig Manley. But
he added things are still at the conceptual stage in a multi-year planning
He said the city will suggest that Guelph be informed and have the opportunity
to participate in the process.
"I'm not sure what the impact will be. There is no question there will
be pressure for development in Guelph," Manley said.
"You only have to look at the location of Guelph, and it is quite obvious
that we're right in the middle of prime development, and this doesn't
surprise me," said Coun. David Birtwistle. However, "it does surprise
me that we haven't been brought into the folds of the discussion. But
we're going to be forcing it," he said.
"I agree with most of what has been said, but I'm a little hesitant
to jump up and down and get excited about this," said Coun. Marilyn
Shapka, adding she is not afraid of Guelph losing its identity