to St. Catharines Standard article in which Debbie Zimmerman, Niagara
Region Chair, expressed impatience about the pace of the MPH planning
and approvals process thus far.
the Editor, St. Catharines Standard, re: Highway delays stretch
patience: Zimmerman wants meeting to discuss holdup in environmental
assessment, July 16.
So Niagara Regional Chair Debbie Zimmerman is becoming impatient at
what she describes as the 'protracted process' of planning the Mid-Peninsula
What she describes as protracted, many others have described as hurried.
The process thus far has been rushed to the point that Burlington and
Halton had to take the distasteful step of threatening legal action
in order to slow the process to the point where their concerns now have
some small chance of being heard.
Throughout this process, the needs of Niagara, as articulated by Ms.
Zimmerman, have seemed to be paramount, while the concerns of those
of us at the other end of the corridor have been ignored or discounted.
All we ask is that the Niagara Escarpment (which is a world biosphere
reserve, an honour it shares with the Galapagos Islands, the Florida
Everglades, and other significant, valuable and beautiful ecosystems
around the world) be given the same level of protection as Niagara's
tender fruit regions.
In addition to the damage the Mid-Pen would do by traversing the Escarpment,
it also would impact on hundreds of wetlands, forests, the habitats
of thousands of species (some endangered or threatened), family farms,
and homes at this end of the corridor.
Given that even the Ministry of Transport (who are gung-ho to get going
on the project) has recognized the need for further study, one would
have hoped that Ms. Zimmerman had looked beyond the borders of her own
region and recognized the 'big picture' as to the impacts construction
of the Mid-Pen would have along its entire length, and for the province
as a whole.
Sadly, it appears she has not done so.
The government has still not demonstrated a need for the highway, it
is slated to cost upwards of $1.5 billion, it will permanently scar
the Escarpment and do untold other environmental damage, it will further
degrade our air quality, it has not been demonstrated that drivers will
be willing to pay its tolls, and it's not even planned to run along
the most efficient route, according to MTO's own documents.
Does this sound like a project that should be rushed? We've learned
what happens when the government rushes ahead with big projects (electricity
privatization is an example).
Let's learn from our mistakes, rather than repeating them.