Ontario government is being accused of trying to bypass environmental
laws and local planning in the routing of the Mid-peninsula highway
and other major throughways.
the government says the proposed Bill 25 -- which would give the
transportation minister power to designate future transportation
corridors -- is simply good long-term planning and that if a corridor
is ever selected, the actual highway route would still be subjected
to environmental rules.
of environmental groups and opposition critics charged yesterday
that the bill introduced into the legislature last month by Transportation
Minister Frank Klees gives the minister power to exempt such corridors
from the province's Environmental Assessment Act and the planning
desires of a community.
like Mayor Rob MacIsaac, are worried a minister may designate a
corridor for the superhighway (the mid-peninsula corridor) through
north Burlington. The city opposes that route and has voted to take
the province to court, arguing Queen's Park has short-circuited
the planning process.
has also filed a complaint with Ontario Environmental Commissioner
Gordon Miller over the implications of Bill 25, which is called
an Act to Enhance Public Transit and Provide for a Smart Transportation
System in Ontario. The mayor called the bill "an appalling piece
of legislation that is highly disrespectful of town's and cities'
authority and the public's rights."
is scheduled to meet with Klees today to talk about his city's aim
to appeal the Mid-pen in court.
25 is a very nasty piece of legislation," said David Eckersley,
vice-chair of the Coalition Opposed to Paving the Escarpment, one
of half a dozen groups and Liberal MPPs who held a press conference
at Queen's Park to denounce the bill. Liberal MPP Ted McMeekin also
takes all the power away from the transportation and environmental
ministry bureaucracy and zaps it right to the transportation minister,"
added Eckersley. "He has total discretion ... He can jam a highway
through your town."
Minister Brad Clark called the criticism from the groups and opposition
critics "a pretty big stretch." The Stoney Creek MPP was transportation
minister before being named labour minister last year.
corridor) could be 10 or 20 miles across," Clark said. "We're talking
about a corridor. The minister, should he believe there's a need,
will identify a corridor, not a route."
reiterated the route will still be subjected to environmental assessment
rules, but he also noted corridors will be reviewed every 10 years
to see if they are still needed. Clark said the province was moved
to bring down the legislation partly because municipalities complained
areas looked at as transportation corridors had already been touched
With files from Canadian Press