Public input is welcome

Hamilton Spectator: Letters to the Editor Jun. 3, 2003

RE: 'Tories make mockery of mid-pen process' (May 26), and 'Mid-pen heads to court' (May 29).

Recent articles in The Spectator have questioned the environmental assessment (EA) process for the mid-peninsula transportation corridor and Bill 25, the proposed Smart Transportation Act, 2003. As Minister of Transportation, I am writing to set the record straight on both.

The Eves government's Smart Growth principles are simple: Provide the infrastructure that people need while protecting and promoting the environment and our quality of life.

The Ministry of the Environment is now conducting a formal review of the mid-pen terms of reference and welcomes public comment. My ministry can commence the EA study only if the Minister of the Environment approves the terms. I encourage Spectator readers to share their thoughts with us as part of this process.

The legislation, if passed, would not affect the EA process for the mid-peninsula corridor or any other future highway; it is designed to bring better planning to Ontario by letting the government designate potential highways and transit corridors, 10 or 20 years before they would be developed. Before specific routes are developed further, these projects would still be subject to the EA process to consider alternatives, identify specific routes and minimize potential environmental impact. Bill 25 would make the current process more open and inclusive, not less.

And Bill 25 would not change land expropriation in Ontario. As is the case today, expropriation would be governed by the Expropriations Act, and would not occur without environmental approval. Expropriation would continue to be a rare, and expensive, option for the government.

As we move through the EA process for the mid-peninsula corridor, we will continue to work closely with municipalities, and consult the public in order to identify and minimize environmental impact. The mid-pen is essential for the economic growth of Ontario and it furthers our Smart Growth plan in encouraging continued growth, healthy communities and the efficient movement of people and goods.

-- Frank Klees, Toronto,

Minister of Transportation.

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