Friday April 25, 2003 By Kalvin Reid
The Niagara Escarpment Commission is adding its voice to those of groups
opposed to an environmental study that doesn't look at the need for
a proposed mid-peninsula highway.
The Ministry of Transportation should revisit the terms of reference
that will guide an environmental assessment to determine a route for
the highway, the commission decided Thursday.
Instead, the agency is calling for a broader study that will examine
the need for the transportation corridor.
"It is an important victory for our side on this one," said
Jason Thorne, executive director of the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment.
"We're quite pleased."
The highway, which is slated to cut a swath through the southern tier
of Niagara into the vicinity of Hamilton's John C. Munro Airport before
looping around and connecting with the provincial highway network near
Burlington, has drawn several critical eyes in the Halton area and CONE
has been at the forefront of the opposition.
"This puts yet another agency against what the Ministry of Transportation
is proposing, which is a fast-tracked environmental assessment,"
Thorne said. "The opposition is gaining strength, which could make
it very difficult to move forward."
Niagara Region Chair Debbie Zimmerman, a proponent of the highway and
an expedited environmental study to select a route, was not surprised
by the escarpment commission's decision.
CONE "has been lobbying hard not to have this environmental assessment
process move forward," she said when contacted Thursday. "But
the need has been fully established prior to this. What I don't understand
is Halton and Hamilton have been involved in this since Day 1."
Niagara regional council has expressed its support for the terms of
reference guiding the environmental study.
She said there are ways to alleviate concerns in the area of the highway's
proposed western terminus without revisiting the need for the entire
"The need is clearly established," Zimmerman said. "All
you have to do is live near the QEW in Niagara to know how bad it can
2002 - 2012 COPE