23, The Hamilton Spectator
The Hamilton Spectator
Widening Highway 403 through Hamilton and Ancaster and filling in
part of the marshlands of Cootes Paradise are part of a new proposal
to construct the mid-peninsula highway.
would mean doubling the 403 lanes to 12 from six, and cutting into
the Niagara Escarpment at the Ancaster hill.
one of two alternatives to the mid-peninsula highway route through
Burlington, where there is a groundswell of opposition to the project.
The province is now conducting environmental assessments on the
Burlington route and the alternatives to determine the best one
for the proposed $1.2-billion Fort Erie-to-Burlington highway that
Ontario hopes to build in the next decade.
Leech of the Ontario Transportation Ministry said widening the 403
requires cutting across the face of the escarpment from Ancaster
down, and rebuilding the bridges on King and Main streets over the
403. The strip of highway through Hamilton is narrow, and widening
it near Cootes Paradise would mean filling in a section of the ecologically
sensitive marsh, or moving a section of railway line that handles
passenger and freight trains.
403 option ends the mid-peninsula highway at the 403, somewhere
near Ancaster. Since the route is still very preliminary, Transportation
Ministry staff cannot pinpoint where the mid-peninsula will intersect
the 403. The traffic funnelling onto the highway would lead vehicles
to an interchange in Burlington where drivers would hook up with
the tolled Highway 407.
other option connects the mid-peninsula to Highway 401, west of
the escarpment, near Guelph Line.
mid-peninsula highway proposal is based on a Transportation Ministry
study showing the highway is required in the next 30 years.
Mayor Bob Wade wants to hear from city staff before deciding how
he feels about the latest plan. He said the mid-peninsula highway
is at least 10 years away and "any number of things can happen
no point in fighting the battle before you know the enemy or what
the battle is all about."
Murray Ferguson of Ancaster is "somewhat surprised" about
it. "When you start cutting for lanes into the escarpment,
plus the homes (up top) that would have to go, and all the bridges
that would have to be widened -- those are major issues."
also said it would take out the Desjardins Canal, a water reservoir,
and cut into the Chedoke Golf Course.
province says the highway is needed because of future population
growth, for economic success, expanding trade with the United States,
tourism travel and to alleviate growing congestion on existing highways.
It will also increase accessibility to the Hamilton airport and
southwestern Ontario, while preserving Niagara's fruit lands.
staff are holding more public information centres next week -- Tuesday
in Lynden at the Rockton World's Fairgrounds, Wednesday in Welland
at the Royal Canadian Legion, and Thursday in Burlington at the
Holiday Inn. Each takes place from 3 to 9 p.m., with a presentation
at 6:30 p.m.
Hamilton 403 option is angering environmental groups and the Bay
Area Restoration Council (BARC).
Baxter of BARC said the council has already written the province
to "take heed of the habitat restoration work already done
there." The widening would considerably hurt those efforts,
which include a $2-million fishway, a barrier to prevent harmful
species from migrating into Cootes from the harbour.. BARC also
called for a reassessment of whether the mid-peninsula is really
Thorne of the Coalition on the Escarpment is also angered and concerned
about cutting into the limestone escarpment.
Minister Brad Clark was part of a group of area MPPs who announced
the alternative routes. Clark, MPP for Stoney Creek, said yesterday
he is glad alternative routes have been included, "which is
what the citizens wanted."
also said it is premature for him to prejudge the 403 widening.
Hamilton option was added after Burlington residents and councillors
pushed for new alternatives. They don't want the mid-peninsula to
be built through north Burlington and are anxious to find options.
Eckersley of Citizens Opposed to Paving the Escarpment said three
possible routes are better than one, but insists the province is
still not listening. He said all three routes would affect Hamilton
(the Burlington route puts the mid-peninsula through parts of Flamborough),
and he, too, would like the highway rethought.
Marvin Caplan, whose ward includes Cootes Paradise, said "I
can tell you my constituents will be upset. They already have a
lot of noise and pollution now."
Burlington, Mayor Rob MacIsaac and Councillor John Taylor are angry,
suggesting the 403 alternative is so implausible it will be ruled
still leans heavily on the Burlington route and adding the two alternatives
may not mean much," said MacIsaac.
considers the 403 alternative "a non-starter" because
Transportation Ministry staff have already spoken against it at
residents are worried the new highway through the city's north end
will bring more smog, noise and pressure to allow more development
into the rural area. They also feel it will deteriorate their quality
and residents had pushed the ministry to include options to the
said the inclusion of alternatives demonstrates the government is
now showing some flexibility. But he still believes the ministry
needs to back up a bit and study the Hamilton-Burlington area transportation
needs as comprehensively as it did those in the Niagara region.
properly conducted, the needs assessment would more thoroughly look