Nov. 27, The Hamilton Spectator
Transportation: Alternatives required
widening of Highway 403 through Hamilton and Ancaster for the proposed
mid-peninsula corridor isn't our definition of responsible planning.
It's hard to imagine how such a concept can be treated seriously
given the formidable environmental and financial obstacles involved.
think of what Hamilton's panoramic western gateway would look like
after the 403 had been doubled to 12 lanes from six. Another 30
metres would have to be excavated from the face of the Niagara Escarpment.
Part of Cootes Paradise would in all likelihood have to be filled
in. The bridges on King and Main streets over the 403 would require
rebuilding. Chedoke Golf Course and the Desjardins Canal would be
negatively impacted. The project would be devastating for Hamilton's
image and its hopes of building a reputation as a city that cares
about sustainable planning.
403 idea is so far-fetched, and problematic, as to be a non-starter.
Hamilton city council should not hesitate to say so. As much as
councillors see the mid-peninsula project as important to Hamilton's
growth, they should draw the line at a concept that would almost
certainly ignite tremendous -- and well-founded -- opposition among
concerned citizens. Opposition began to mobilize as soon as the
idea was unveiled, and the government should listen. There are better
ways to use scarce public funds than to waste time and money on
a proposal whose feasibility is openly questioned by transportation
ministry officials and senior city planners. The government could
do taxpayers a favour by shelving its full evaluation of the "environmental,
economic and social impact" of the 403 alternative.
403 idea is so dubious that it begs the question of why it's being
included in what the government is portraying as a broadening of
studies into the mid-peninsula corridor. We suspect, as Burlington
councillors do, that opposition to the much-debated idea of building
the superhighway around the urban periphery of Hamilton and across
north Burlington to Highway 407 is at play. It would be politically
expedient, to put it mildly, if the ministry were to use the 403
option as a straw man in order to make the 407 route appear more
palatable in comparison. If that proves to be the case, the government
can brace for more criticism.
ministry is at least including the alternative of connecting the
mid-peninsula corridor to Highway 401, west of the escarpment. If
the corridor is inevitable, this option merits evaluation. Nonetheless
we share the concern of Burlington Mayor Rob MacIsaac and other
observers who believe the ministry should slow down and study overall
transportation in Hamilton/Burlington, with more emphasis on "smart
growth" alternatives such as upgrading GO Transit and improving
the existing road network.
wide-ranging consultation exercise would be much better received
than evaluating an ill-conceived, undesirable and highly unlikely
12-lane Highway 403.