public transit and less-congested highways. That's the aim of a
new $645 million injection into transportation infrastructure in
Hamilton and Niagara, announced earlier this week.
cash comes under the province's Smart Growth category.
programs include the expansion of GO Transit services including
a third track from Burlington to Hamilton, as well as a new commuter
bus-rail service for Golden Horseshoe municipalities. A shuttle
bus to Hamilton airport will be studied to the tune of $575,000,
while Hamilton will receive almost $3.5 million to rejuvenate its
current bus fleet.
won't be ignored. On the books for this area is the construction
of a section of road on Hwy. 6.
cash goes hand in hand with the government's proposed Smart Transportation
Bill, which has been garnering much controversy among critics.
bill aims to allow the province to identify transportation corridors
- either for roads or public transit - early in order to plan for
transportation growth before congestion hits a crisis stage.
critics feel the bill will do away with much-needed environmental
assessments, prevent conflicts from going before the Ontario Municipal
Board and do away with the rights of property owners, whose land
could be expropriated.
of Transportation spokesperson Bill Nichols denied all these charges.
conference opposing Bill 25 staged by a variety of environmental
groups, including Citizens Opposed to Paving the Escarpment (COPE)
and the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment (CONE) earlier this
week was attended by Ancaster-Dundas- Flamborough-Aldershot MPP
feels the growing criticism had an effect on Transportation Minister
Frank Klees. "The Minister said in the House that he has asked his
staff to review the concerns that have been expressed," he said.
COPE Vice-chair Dave Eckersley was thrilled with the new Smart Growth
funding announcements, saying it is exactly what groups like his
have been calling for.
doing a lot of what the different groups have been asking for -
a better integrated transit system," he said.
he wants the province to apply the same rigour to the proposed mid-peninsula
hwy., aimed at easing traffic congestion between Niagara and Toronto.
With improved alternatives in place, the road may not be needed
at all, said Eckersley.
the province can make it go away simply by ordering a full environmental
assessment, entailing a needs study. That could spell the end of
the road. "That may be a good no-lose solution," he said.