Region joins Burlington in legal action over proposed mid-peninsula highway

Jason Misner, Special To The Post 05/30/03 The Burlington Post

 

Halton Region has joined forces with Burlington in launching a lawsuit against the Ontario government over plans to build the controversial mid-peninsula highway.

Burlington council recently voted to bring legal action against the province for what it considered unreasonable suggestions for creating the highway and a process that has shown little regard for Halton residents' interests.

The highway is proposed from Niagara to the Hamilton/Halton area, and some local politicians fear it will be connected to Hwy. 407 in Burlington.

Regional councillors met behind closed doors at their meeting Wednesday and voted to spend $75,000 in legal fees to fight the highway issue.

Regional politicians see the decision to join Burlington's legal battle as strengthening the position that the highway process is flawed and must start again.

"I don't see any alternative but to take (the province) to court," said Burlington Mayor Rob MacIsaac. "The manner in which (the highway) has been pushed through by the province is highly disrespectful of the residents of Burlington and Halton."

The most immediate impact of the lawsuit, said MacIsaac, is that it will put on hold any further discussion or proposals on the highway. The ultimate goal of the lawsuit it to start the highway selection process from scratch, he said.

Halton's chair said regional councillors feel the process hasn't stood up to tests of transparency and inclusiveness.

"We want to make sure this is a process that people understand," said Joyce Savoline.

She noted that in early planning stages, Hamilton, Niagara and the province conducted a needs assessment study that Burlington and Halton were not involved in. "We knew bits and pieces, but never had any details."

Burlington councillors were concerned the proposed Bill 25 could allow the highway to be pushed through.

Provincial officials say the legislation will protect future infrastructure corridors while still allowing local input and environmental assessments.

Ministry of Transportation officials say the mid-peninsula corridor could include a highway, transit way or both. They warn a highway may be needed for population and traffic increases.

Possible connections for the proposed highway include Hwy. 407 near Walker's Line, an expanded Hwy. 403 on Hamilton Mountain, Hwy. 401 west of Milton and Hwy. 6 in Flamborough.

-- with files from Dennis Smith

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