News Release from Barbara Sullivan
Liberal Candidate in Halton

For Immediate Release

May 14, 2003

EVES GOVERNMENT ADDS NEW THREAT TO NIAGARA ESCARPMENT IN HALTON

Milton, Ontario – The Eves government has added a new threat to the Niagara Escarpment in Halton by the introduction of Bill 25, Smart Transportation Act, 2003, said Barbara Sullivan, Liberal candidate in the Halton riding.

"This Bill will have a direct impact on the government’s ability to push the Mid Peninsula Highway through the Niagara Escarpment in Halton," said Sullivan. "Requirements for a full Environmental Assessment are slashed and the only E.A. required would be for the actual building of the road."

The government introduced Bill 25 under the guise of amendments to the Highway Traffic Act requiring drivers to obey signs on paved shoulders, authorizing new regulations for high occupancy vehicle lanes, introducing a smart card system that does not include all the GTA, and giving police officers the powers to remove vehicles from a public highway.

"Instead of being upfront about the provisions in the Bill, the Eves government buried the part of the Bill that has the most significant implications for people in Halton," said Sullivan.

"This is further evidence of the duplicity of a government that holds our democratic process in contempt. Just like the ‘Magna Budget’, the Eves government is attempting to avoid scrutiny for its actions," Sullivan said.

The Bill gives the Minister of Transportation unique responsibility for all infrastructure corridor plans relating to transportation, with unprecedented powers to prepare plans for major roads, and to accept or reject proposals for change. After the rubber stamping of Cabinet, the Minister’s decision is final.

Sullivan said the Mid Peninsula Highway requires a full Environmental Assessment with extensive analysis and detailed studies. Under this new Act, detailed work would no longer be required.

"The Niagara Escarpment is a vital part of our natural and national heritage, and a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The people of Halton demand nothing less than a full Environmental Assessment of the Mid Peninsula Highway," said Sullivan. "Under Bill 25, the Minister will have the unique power to cut a new swathe through this unequaled ecosystem, based not on facts but on expediency."

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Contact: Barbara Sullivan 905-854-4366

416-948-5835

 

BACKGROUNDER

 

On May 7 2003, the Eves government introduced Bill 25, Smart Transportation Act, 2003, an Act to enhance public transit and provide for a smart transportation system in Ontario.

Bill 25 will amend the Ontario Planning and Development Act to enable government to develop plans for future infrastructure corridors. The Minister states "This is an important tool in the integration of land use and transportation planning, to support continued growth and to maintain options for the future". The Bill also allows for the creation of provincial agencies to coordinate transportation across regions with services such as a multi-system transit fare card; bus bypass lanes; carpool lots; and high-occupancy-vehicle lanes.

The Minister in his statement introducing the Bill states, "Several new inter-regional transportation corridors are in the planning stage, each with an eye to multi-modal solutions, including highways, transit and rail."

The provisions for full Environmental Assessments are slashed with the final decision making power handed to the Minister and Cabinet.

Under a full Environmental Assessment, proposals for a project such as the Mid Peninsula Highway would require extensive analysis and detailed studies concerning the environment that would be directly or indirectly affected; environmental effects caused by the project, the actions necessary to prevent, change, mitigate or remedy the effects on the environment; alternatives to the undertaking; alternative methods for the undertaking; and an evaluation of the advantages and disadvantages to the environment. Bill 25 removes the necessity of this work, and the Minister would be able to proceed with a minimal ‘survey’ of environmental, physical, social and economic conditions.

In essence, using the Mid Peninsula Highway as an example, if Bill 25 is passed, the route could be selected and approved by the Minister with his decision rubber stamped by Cabinet. Citizens would have limited input into the decision making process.

The Niagara Escarpment is a unique environmentally-based land use plan, encompassing some of Ontario’s most cherished places, including Rattlesnake Point and Kelso Conservation Area in Halton. In 1985, the Ontario government passed the Niagara Escarpment Plan, the land use plan for the 183,311 hectares (452,981 acres) of Escarpment land. The purpose of the Plan is "to provide for the maintenance of the Niagara Escarpment and land in its vicinity substantially as a continuous natural environment, and to ensure only such development occurs as is compatible with that natural environment." It was designated a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in 1990.

 

Authorized by the CFO for Halton Liberal Association

 

 

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