Hamilton group not thrilled with mid-peninsula highway plan

The Review (Niagara Falls)
Wed 13 Nov 2002
Page: A4
Section: Opinion
Byline: Susan McMaster
Source: The Review

The Editor:

In the Oct. 30 edition of The Review, John Dolbec, chief executive officer
of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, is quoted as saying there is
"overwhelming" support for the mid-peninsula highway in the "Steel City"
("Mid-peninsula corridor the way to go"). He states any concerns are that
of a "vocal minority." Although Dolbec may speak for the small circle he
associates with, he does not speak for Hamilton. As a member of Citizens
Opposed to Paving the Escarpment, I would like to provide a more balanced

I have attended all the public information centres held by the Ministry of
Transportation in the Hamilton and Burlington areas. Dolbec has not spoken
or made himself known at any of these meetings. In fact, had he attended,
he would be aware that massive public discontent with the highway plan has
been expressed by the public at every meeting.

I recently attended the Hamilton Stakeholder Workshop organized by the MTO.
Dolbec did not participate in this event either. There was acknowledgement
the process was moving too fast and a new road wasn't the only or the right
answer. These sentiments were even expressed by those who were pro-highway
when the session began.

As a taxpayer in this province, I am thankful to be associated with
business people, farmers and concerned citizens who have joined our
grassroots group. Without COPE, some important points wouldn't have been

For example: Niagara Falls tourism and truck traffic are two of the needs
driving this highway. The MTO failed to reveal that a trip using the
Mid-Pen from Oakville to Niagara Falls would be approximately 150 km (round
trip) longer than the same trip on the QEW. Plus, drivers will have to pay
tolls. This will blow the profit margin for a trucker (they don't use the
407 now) and add 1.5 hours to the tourist's trip, plus the cost of the tolls.

It is apparent the study failed to consider any other modes of
transportation, nor did it take into account rising fuel costs over the
next 30 years. Also, the numbers provided in the study clearly show this
will be a toll road, a fact that MTO has been careful to obscure, but that
they will admit when pressed.

Dolbec states our infrastructure is overwhelmed. He is correct - there is
massive congestion between Halton and Toronto. However, this highway does
nothing to alleviate this congestion and will actually aggravate the
situation by getting Niagara traffic to the traffic jam in Burlington more

The MTO needs to go back and complete an accurate needs assessment. The
current document is biased towards a road and ignores the impacts on the
Hamilton and Burlington areas (consideration that was given to Niagara for
the tender fruit lands). The Niagara Escarpment Plan has also been ignored.

The "glut of land" Dolbec refers to as available is actually class one and
two farmland currently occupied by farm families, some of whom have been on
the same farms for generations. The needs assessment doesn't consider
alternate, healthier modes of transportation that would reduce congestion.
There is nothing resembling smart growth in the needs assessment. This
highway is another Hydro-like catastrophe in the making.

As a Chamber of Commerce member, Dolbec's views are narrow by definition.
Unfortunately, this issue isn't solely about making a dollar, it's about a
vision for our future. I want a livable future that includes air to breathe
and an escarpment preserved for all to enjoy.

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