Star – May 29 BY CARMELA FRAGOMENI -TORSTAR NEWS SERVICE
— Burlington and Halton have had enough. They are taking the province
to court over its proposed mid-peninsula highway.
way it is being pushed through by the province is highly disrespectful
to the people of Halton," said Burlington Mayor Rob MacIsaac.
and the city say that, despite the Ministry of Transportation's_(MTO)
public meetings, their calls for more in-depth study have been virtually
ignored. The research they want includes examining other methods
of reducing traffic congestion — such as giving Hamilton full-day
GO service into Toronto — and the full environmental impact of the
Halton regional council joined forces with Burlington to take legal
action to stop the highway.
are especially concerned because Premier Ernie Eves is promising
to build the mid-peninsula in his party's election platform. They
are also concerned his government has recently introduced a bill,
Bill 25, which will exclude new highway planning from having to
undergo an environmental assessment.
effect, the municipalities are asking the MTO to go back to the
beginning and start the process over "in a way that is fair to Burlington,"
MacIsaac said. He said there are other palatable solutions for the
province, such as splitting the environmental assessment in two
— one for Burlington, and one for Hamilton and Niagara, where the
politicians favour the highway.
said Halton's move adds a great deal of strength to Burlington's
case. "I'm very pleased we're not standing alone.''
chairman Joyce Savoline said, "We've had opportunity to make comment,
but it's already after the fact (after the ministry has decided)."
were incensed the ministry first proposed the highway route through
Halton would cut across the Niagara Escarpment down through environmental
and rural lands in north Burlington to join the toll highway 407
at Walker's Line. The ministry eventually relented and added alternative
routes to study.
council, meanwhile, has already told the province it strongly supports
the proposed mid-peninsula highway. The road is predicted to spur
economic development and reduce traffic congestion, a plus for attracting
court action is disappointing for Neil Everson, executive director
of Hamilton's economic development department.
will delay it," he said._"From an economic development perspective,
we think the highway is very important... we'd like to see it built
sooner than later."
Creek councillor Larry Di Ianni understands the concerns in Burlington
and Halton, but says, "I just hope we don't end up in an expensive
legal wrangle over process... We all know from bitter experience
(with the Red Hill Expressway) that if you don't get the process
right from the start, it will really draw out."
and Halton say their portion of the highway was an afterthought
and they weren't consulted when the MTO was studying whether the
highway is needed.
Ianni said the process for getting the Red Hill approved was a long
and exasperating 50 years. He hopes legal action prompt the province
to take real action on route concerns.
Bill Kelly sympathizes.
have some serious questions about process and their input being
said Hamilton, despite endorsing the highway, has similar concerns
from Flamborough and Waterdown.
he said the mid-pen "is something we desperately need... It's one
of the key components to our economic development strategy."
and Halton's legal action requests a court order prohibiting the
Ministry of the Environment from approving the MTO's terms of reference
for an environmental assessment.
assessment now concentrates studies on the best routes for the proposed
$1.5-billion highway between Fort Erie and Burlington.
MTO is seeking a "scoped" environmental assessment (EA) in its next
step toward getting the highway approved. A scoped assessment would
look for the best routes that least harm the environment. A full
assessment, which is what Burlington and Halton want, takes much
longer and is more involved, but would examine all options, including
improved transit and rail travel.
said the two councils are most concerned the ministry is leaving
out key elements in evaluating the need for the highway and its
are not looking at enhanced public transit as part of the solution
(to gridlock) here. It could negate the need for the highway.
concern is about the process MTO followed. It is flawed and has
been completely unfair, particularly in Burlington."
ministers' offices of the MTO and MOE would not comment.
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