and Halton are turning up the heat on the Ernie Eves government
to stop its controversial 130-kilometre mid-peninsula highway proposal
from Fort Erie to Burlington.
Mayor Rob MacIsaac and Halton Chairman Joyce Savoline held a press
conference at Queen's Park yesterday, an hour after filing documents
with the Superior Court of Justice, the first step in a legal action
to force the province to conduct a full environmental assessment
and give assurances the highway will not cut through the Niagara
Escarpment in Burlington.
Queen's Park press conference is an unprecedented move for the mayor
and chairman, who had harsh words for the Eves government. The press
conference aimed for more media attention before a possible fall
just trying to get our message out to the broadest audience possible,"
MacIsaac said. "We think that as more and more people become aware
of how the issue has been handled, there will be more pressure on
the province to respond."
took a shot at the Tory election platform for promising to build
the mid-pen and also protect the Niagara Escarpment.
and Savoline said environmental laws are being ignored in the push
to get highway approvals through.
almost as if the Ministry of Transportation ripped up our 30-year-old
Environmental Assessment Act and wrote a new set of rules and kept
the single copy of those new rules all to themselves," Savoline
Minister Frank Klees responded briefly on behalf of the government,
saying it is "in no way compromising" environmental standards. "The
mayor is entitled . . . to take whatever action, but I think it's
an unnecessary waste of taxpayers' dollars," Klees said.
a member of the provincially-appointed Smart Growth panel, also
Eves government for going against smart growth principles. The highway
encourages urban sprawl, congested highways and dangerous levels
of air pollution, he said.
Growth says, "all new planning should protect the environment, protect
rural lands, and consider cleaner methods of moving goods and people,
including rail and transit."
said it's absurd to protect absolutely the Niagara Peninsula's tender
fruitlands while being open to destroying part of the Escarpment,
a United Nations world biosphere reserve.
say the government is blatantly disregarding hundreds of Burlington
residents who packed MoT public meetings to speak out. Residents
fear the highway will create more urban sprawl, air pollution and
congestion, and reduce their quality of life.
documents contend the mid-pen process: fails to protect the Escarpment
as required, disregards Planning Act protections for natural heritage,
disregards the Environmental Assessment Act, and excludes Burlington
and Halton from the study.
in Niagara Region and Hamilton and big business want the highway,
calling it a major trade corridor with the United States and an
impetus to economic prosperity.