'All-clear' sign premature

RE: 'NEC wants assessment of new highway' (Sept. 19) Sep. 21, 01:14 EDT

It is with great concern that I read the comments from Marvin Caplan, the representative from Hamilton to the Niagara Escarpment Commission. He said, "The City of Hamilton is not opposed to the mid-peninsula corridor."

However, as Caplan is aware, the City of Hamilton, in conjunction with the City of Burlington, recently requested that ITRANS Consulting conduct a Peer Review of the Needs Assessment document prepared for the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) as part of the mid-peninsula highway planning process. Their interim report states in part that the overall justification for the highway to run in the corridor proposed has not been conclusively documented and that there has been insufficient time for public comment and review of the process.

As well, public sentiment as expressed in the media and at the public meetings that have been held so far, has been overwhelmingly against construction of the highway as currently proposed by the MTO. The public has expressed many concerns, particularly about the effects of the new highway on the environment and on air quality.

It is important to remember that the City of Hamilton now has new borders. The citizens of Flamborough, Dundas and Ancaster deserve to have their views considered just as much as those for whom Caplan professes to speak.

All that being said, those concerned about the effects of the construction of the highway should be very pleased to note that the NEC did send a message to the provincial government and the MTO that alternatives to the highway should be considered and that the government's own Smart Growth policies regarding environmental protection and the prevention of urban sprawl must be taken into account.

Economic development is obviously crucial for Hamilton. However, until the need for the construction of this highway has been documented and the public has had sufficient opportunities to make its views known, it seems unreasonable to give the MTO a blanket "all-clear" sign.

-- Margaret McCarthy, Ward 15 Councillor.

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