Chair of stop Escarpment Highway Coalition joins the debate - says a New Niagara highway corridor is not needed in Burlington.

backgrounder 100Letter to the Editor
By Geoff Brock
October 20, 2014


A point of clarification. Peter Rusin never said a highway through Burlington was inevitable. He did say a new highway was inevitable and that if Burlington didn’t get proactive with the province and make sure they were at the table where the decisions are going to be made there could be a highway through Burlington.

I’m want to respond to the discussion I’ve seen in the news over the past weekend about a new Niagara Highway coming to Burlington.

I’m very disappointed to see that Peter Rusin, one of the candidates for Mayor in Burlington, is supporting a new Highway through Burlington because he thinks that will end traffic congestion and drive growth

NGTA full study area Juny 4-2012Mr. Rusin’s position ignores the 10+ year study process that was completed by the Provincial Ministry of Transportation in 2013. This study involved multiple municipalities, dozens of Public consultation meetings, and over $10 million in consulting work and transportation planning. The conclusion was that a New Niagara highway corridor is not needed in Burlington. The Stop the Escarpment Highway Coalition was an active participant in this process, along with the City of Burlington and the Halton Region. The conclusion that was reached is a great example of local community groups working with local governments. I don’t know what facts Mr. Rusin is working with other than his own personal opinion.

MidtownOakville mobility hub study

Metrolinx completed the Midtown Oakville Mobility Hub Study in October 2012. The study developed a long-term vision for the Oakville GO Station and surrounding lands, building on the substantial amount of planning work the Town of Oakville has already completed – the May 2011 Livable Oakville Official Plan and the June 2008 Draft Midtown Business and Development Plan. It focuses on the redevelopment of publicly-owned lands around the Oakville GO station, the majority of which is owned by Metrolinx. The study also looks at expanding the GO station to ensure it can best accommodate significant growth planned for the area and future Trafalgar Bus Rapid Transit.

Mr. Rusin seems unaware of the work Metrolinx is doing in the GTHA to get people out of cars and onto transit. Some things Burlington can do alone, and some need Regional and provincial support. GO train electrification will get us GO train service every 15 minutes all day long, all year. That should get some cars off the road and improve air quality! Expanding the Mobility hub around the Burlington GO station could further help reduce congestion and create an employment centre. You only have to look at the great work done in Oakville to define a vision for the Mobility hub around their GO station. Do look.

Getting people out of cars is tough unless they have a viable alternative. Even the MTO’s long term plans show Burlington only moving from less than 5% of trips on transit, to slightly over 10% in the next 15 years. We need politicians and leaders who will ask “What will it take to get 20% of trips on transit?” The answer is better and more convenient service!

NGTA No-highway-here1-285x300There are lots of great policy ideas that Burlington can do on their own. Local trips on transit are not that convenient. It’s still difficult to get from Burlington to Oakville or Hamilton on transit. Working together with sister municipalities, instead of having standalone transit systems, will support the way citizens are living and working in the community. This idea requires regional thinking and cooperation and the vision a municipal mayor can give to the process.

Study after study shows that $1 spent on transit infrastructure returns many times the benefit of one spent on roads. Cars are going to handle the majority of trips for a long time, but the mix is going to change. We need leaders who understand that long term shift is coming and set the course to keep Burlington one of the most livable cities in Canada.

Geoff Brock is the Co- Chair, Stop the Escarpment Highway Coalition


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14 comments to Chair of stop Escarpment Highway Coalition joins the debate – says a New Niagara highway corridor is not needed in Burlington.

  • Stephanie Rusin

    So, Tom, it is okay for you to say “Mr. Rusin is selling a new GTA highway”…and imply that since he is involved in real estate and development that he is looking to benefit “and what he needs is to drum up interest?” Shame on you! Peter is running for mayor for the right reasons. In his response to a letter from Geoff Brock Peter said that Geoff is an activist who is spinning the truth. What is so bad about that? Geoff is an activist, is he not? Peter has every right to say Geoff is spinning the truth when Geoff, in his letter to the editor accuses Peter of supporting a new highway through Burlington when in fact what Peter actually said was “a new highway was inevitable and that if Burlington didn’t get proactive with the province and make sure they were at the table where the decisions are going to be made there could be a highway through Burlington.” Peter never said that he wanted to see a highway through Burlington. I am uncertain as to what is wrong with him wanting to be proactive in working with the provincial government for the best interests of Burlington. Geoff states he is disappointed in Peter and accuses Peter of being unaware and of ignoring the studies process. I consider this to be very insulting. I believe that Peter made clear in his response, even in third person, which was done intentionally as a response to the many times that Geoff repeated Peter’s name when he was misquoting and insulting him throughout his letter, that he is very aware as well as knowledgeable, involved and in fact an expert in this area. Geoff seems to also have issue with Peter having an opinion. Geoff, you appear to have very strong opinions. In the NGTA study the idea of a new highway is still very much on the table. The “Building Block” approach is being used to prioritize by first optimizing our existing infrastructure, then investing in transit and non-road infrastructure and finally investing in roadway expansion, which in itself is 2-tiered. There is much information, including visuals which indicate some of the possible routes where the new highway corridor may be built, including in Burlington. Peter wants to be proactive even if this highway is not built for many more years. I’m still not sure what is wrong with being proactive to ensure that Burlington’s best interests are looked after? Tom and Vanessa, you seem to have only paid attention to the one comment against your friend Geoff rather than the other important information that Peter provided about his knowledge, experience and expertise. Vanessa seems to think that people who volunteer their time for something they believe in are much better people than those who make a living doing what they are passionate about. She also seems to think it is okay to call Peter a bully or arrogant, but not okay to call Geoff an activist, which he actually is. Peter has been misquoted on this Niagara highway issue several times. It began with John Taylor, a Goldring supporter and strong advocate for escarpment preservation, who is clearly anti-highway, who took a comment made at the Chamber of Commerce, and started spinning it like a top. John Taylor came out with this accusation: “Mayoral Candidate Peter Rusin today, at the Chamber of Commerce debate, called for the divisive Niagara to GTA Highway process to begin again with the support of City Council.” Mr. Taylor, this is pure nonsense, an overreaction and a very obvious attempt to help Goldring. What Peter actually stated was, “that a new Highway was an inevitability.” He also stated that “It is imperative that we engage the province in a proactive and collaborative spirit to ensure that we do not compromise the preservation of the escarpment and greenland areas.” Not sure what is wrong with this? Another misquote came from Walter Mulkewich, where he accused Peter of wanting to have the urban boundary reinstated to the Number 1 Side Road. Absolutely Untrue! What Peter actually said was “It is my intention to preserve our rural areas, including villages and settlement areas such as Kilbride, Lowville, and Mount Nemo, and also NOT have the Urban Boundary reinstated to Number 1 Side Road as in the past. I am really confused as to why anyone would have issue with this statement or any of Peter’s statements, unless they are a Goldring supporter and want to spin a story so badly in order to make people believe something that is false. I would guess it is a strategy to prevent Peter Rusin from winning the election and to help Goldring win. I think it is morally and ethically wrong for anyone to misquote and spin anything in their favour to intentionally try to make someone look bad, especially someone who is running for mayor or any political position. I also think it is morally and ethically wrong for anyone running for council to blatantly lie and purposefully try to make someone look bad. Vanessa and Councillor John Taylor have made it clear who they support. It is wrong when people running for council come out with false statements or comments against others, especially in the middle of an election. I suppose you people are all quite satisfied with the damage you may have caused with your lies and misquotes in order to help your cause, but I am here to say that Peter is a very generous, honest, honourable and hardworking individual. He is running for Mayor for the right reasons. He is frustrated with what has been going on at City Hall. He wants to see Accountability and Transparency as well as open and responsible government. He does not want to see any more bad deals or “lessons learned” and he wants to offer his passion, dedication, knowledge and skill set to ensure that this city is the best that it can be for all of Burlington’s citizens. If anyone decides to read this comment, I would appreciate that you read it carefully rather than skim it, misread it, misinterpret it, read into it, or misquote it, as has been done most recently. I am not looking for any feedback, comments or snide remarks from anyone either. There has been enough of that. A citizen of Burlington who believes in the truth.

    • Tom Muir

      Mr Rusin started the name-calling and is the only person I recall that implied that people are lying, and stupid to boot. And now, you Mrs Rusin, are continuing this accusatory tone and language, and did it several times in this piece to pretty much everyone who has questioned and criticized Mr. Rusin’s platform statements and his descriptions of himself and others.

      More than that, you appear to be swinging at everyone about practically everything that is at issue in this context. I was going to call Mr.Rusin a bully too, as that is what I thought at the time, but I did not.

      The fact is the new highway of concern is not inevitable, whatever Mr. Rusin says or thinks he knows. The issue is him saying that it is inevitable, and then wanting to be proactive with the province which can only mean starting, or reopening, a negotiations process again, which the city has already done in detail.

      This very action of his would breath life into something that is at best moribund, and make it look like the city wants the road. Mr. Rusin doesn’t seem to see this downside, or appreciate the reaction and criticism that he got.

      The idea that he can campaign for Mayor on this plank, and being who and what he is professionally, and not expect to attract a lot of flak, is just naïve. Politics is not called a blood sport for nothing. And wasn’t it a famous US President that is quoted as saying about politics, “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

  • Steve Robinson



    “The smart growth approach to development is multifaceted and can encompass a variety of techniques. For example, in the state of Massachusetts smart growth is enacted by a combination of techniques including increasing housing density along transit nodes, conserving farm land, and mixing residential and commercial use areas.[3] Perhaps the most descriptive term to characterize this concept is Traditional Neighborhood Development, which recognizes that smart growth and related concepts are not necessarily new, but are a response to car culture and sprawl. Many favor the term New Urbanism, which invokes a new, but traditional way of looking at urban planning.”

    Green Belts, intensification and vastly increasing the public’s transit usage are all very much a part the modern lefty’s urban social engineering plan that includes getting people out of the evil bourgeois car an into public transit.

    “The ambitious transit goals of MoveOntario 2020, a multi-year $17.5 billion dollar rapid transit action plan for the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton, should be implemented. The Plan reduces car dependence which will alleviate congestion and air quality concerns in the area and pressures to build more highways and roads in the Greenbelt. The Plan will reduce car trips by 300 million and create 800 million new transit trips, reducing CO2 emissions by 10 megatonnes. The Plan is also integral to the success of Places to Grow”

    You smear me as being delusional (my comment is pure hate.. and fantasy)while you are being dishonest about intensification and it’s goal of making things so congested on the roads that “car culture” is replaced by the people’s public transit.

    • Tom Muir

      It’s your labelling of people with ideas opposed to you that is fantasy, and it reads like hate. You couldn’t possibly know anything real about people to stick them with your numerous labels. I didn’t smear you or call you delusional – it’s your language and tone that is doing a good job of that and speaks for itself, so I just pointed it out.

      Besides, this discussion and my comments, are about a new highways, which I think will make things worse. I never mentioned intensification, although I do support the Big Move for all the reasons stated – no dishonesty here.

      You too sound passionate about this, so I suggest you do the same thing I suggested to James. Maybe you two can get together, if you haven’t already. My point is to ask people like you to argue with evidence, and reason, and not by attacking, and labelling, and accusing other people falsely. It just sounds stupid and juvenile, besides being way out of date.

      • Steve Robinson

        I notice you completely ignored the evidence (with links) that my point was hardly “fantasy” and then when on to suggest I’ve not provided any evidence of my position, when in fact, I did. See how dishonest you really are?

  • Tom Muir

    It’s really disturbing to see the number of commentators who apparently have nothing to say for themselves to contribute to the issues debate and dialogue, but instead just offer personal attack, name-calling, and slag other people who dare to tell how they want to move forward in the future in ways these critics don’t like but can’t discuss apparently.

    Mr. Rusin, who should know better, can’t stop doing it, even while he offers his name in third person 16 times above. James, and Steve Robinson, also seem to be out of ideas except to rip into others with fantasy accusations that read like pure hate. It’s scary to contemplate this kind of mentality in charge. At least, try hard to be civil.

    • James

      Oh, like you’re doing? Look in the mirror Tom. I am 100% in favour of the mid-pen highway. In fact, it can’t come soon enough. I wish they’d get started with construction immediately. I appreciate there is loads more red tape to cut through before a shovel touches the ground, and understand this highway is at least 10, maybe 20 years away, but you get my point. I appreciate residents in north Burlington don’t want the highway constructed through their front yard, and I respect that, however, let’s not scrap the whole concept of this highway because of a few uppity activists that likely won’t be directly impacted by this highway anyway. Work with the system, find a route that works. Don’t just say no, then close your mind to any other opportunities.

      This highway is needed for the prosperity of Ontario. We’re already falling behind due to companies that just can’t afford to have their trucks or staff wasting time on our roads, stuck in traffic at all hours. We need to get traffic moving, and while I fully support public transit improvements for those able to use it, the reality is that we are going to remain a roads-based society, at least from a business perspective. Will this highway solve traffic congestion in Burlington? Absolutely not. That’s not the purpose of this highway. This highway isn’t a Burlington highway, it’s an Ontario highway.

      Unfortunately we cannot wave a magic wand and solve all our problems at once, but this highway is a step in the right direction towards at least helping one of them. That doesn’t mean we abandon public transit improvements, this isn’t a choice of one over the other. Both are needed. Desperately. But we need to stop fighting progress, and get on with it. Embrace change. If we want Burlington to be more appealing from an economic development standpoint, we need this highway. We need to be more accessible. Look around, nobody’s beating down our doors trying to start up a new business, bringing new jobs and an increased employment tax base… because they can’t get here. Something needs to change, otherwise Burlington will quickly become a very unaffordable place to live.

      With all due respect, most of those opposed to the highway are nearing or already at retirement age. Well what about the rest of us? We need jobs. We need affordable property taxes. We need efficient transportation. We need affordable places to live. You’ve had your chance, you’ve done well in life, but the world is a different place now. Things have changed. Burlington now isn’t the Burlington you grew up in. Sorry, but it’s true. Sadly, the voice of the next generation is not being heard… because we’re too busy stuck in traffic driving to our jobs in Toronto. This is our future, and our children’s future we’re talking about, not yours.

      • Tom Muir

        The mirror was in my hand, and it was pointed at you. I just wrote about what you said previously. This comment of yours is better, but you still couldn’t resist the “uppity activists” snarky.

        I too want alternative transportation modes as priority, and not more urban form and road building that just makes things worse. And I support citizens who are exercising their rights and responsibilities to engage the politics to have a say in how they want to live. Does that make me uppity too?

        You sound like you have a passion for this, so you can be just like those against the highway, organize your evidence (not just angry opinion), form a group, see how much support you can muster, and do what they are doing. Get into your boat and row. Don’t just egg those who are already in the water.

  • Steve Robinson

    The bourgeois car haters are legion in the left wing world. It’s a religion for them, so much so, that they intend on overcrowding the GTA to the point of road gridlock hoping that people will finally get out of their cars and into the “people’s transit”. They use doublespeak terminology like the “green belt” and “intensification” instead of the real world “overcrowding at all costs”. They don’t mind if people’s standard of living drops to 500 square foot million dollar homes because the end justifies the means. The road to Hell is always paved in good intentions.

  • Tom Muir

    I think Mr. Rusin is selling a new Niagara GTA highway. You know he told us he’s into real estate and development, and negotiation of same. What he needs is to drum up some interest. So he is boldly fishing the city political pond to try and get a bite. The hook of the bite is the idea that a road is “inevitable”. This is of course flim flam – as they say, the only inevitable things in life are death and taxes. Don’t bite, don’t even nibble, or else.

  • Peter Rusin

    Rusin is very aware.

    Rusin actually works on a variety of Metrolinx assignments including initiatives such as the Big Move, all across the GTA. Very few people are involved in infrastructure projects and infrastructure politics, as deeply as Rusin.

    Rusin has worked on more provincial infrastructure projects from both the the public and private sector sides, and Rusin has chaired the resolution of disputes between all levels of government and private sector land owners as a provincial cabinet appointment to save money for taxpayers; all across the province. Rusin wants to bring that level of skill and experience to the city he loves, Burlington.

    Read the Rusin experience and involvement on all provincial and regional infrastructure projects; some of that information is found in the Gazette’s articles over the past several days. Please read those articles, they are truthful, and Rusin’s position is clearly stated.

    People like Geoff Brock are simply activists that spin the truth, and those kinds of efforts do not help the process, nor does it help the people of Burlington.

    Rusin has stated numerous times, that a highway alignment is inevitable. A new highway IS NOT his idea. Rusin’s approach is that we all have to work in a collaborative and cooperative fashion with the province to ensure that the best interests of this city are preserved.

    Read Rusin’s previous comments and detailed position on this matter. His position is clear and consistent, unlike the current Mayor Goldring, and Rusin continues to work for the best interests of taxpayers and citizens of Burlington who need to hear the truth.

    Rusin is very well aware of the NGTA Corridor study and the priority to optimize existing transportation infrastructure, including all modes of transportation (road, rail, transit, air, water) to move goods and people, relieve congestion and fuel the health of the economy. It is a comprehensive, integrated transportation infrastructure initiative that is provincially driven and widely accepted by municipalities. If read without political spin, the inevitable roadway expansion, including new transportation corridors is clearly not off the table; see link below to one of the relevant Class EA reports.

    Rusin is running for mayor to bring TRANSPARENCY and ACCOUNTABILITY and responsible governance to this city.

    Rusin will not spin the truth.

    Peter Rusin for Mayor; truth and justice for all.

    • Mr. Rusin. Firstly, I always find it very concerning when someone seeking a position of power writes about himself in the third person. Secondly, people like Geoff Brock are not ‘simply’ anything, nor is being an activist ‘simple’ (while being arrogantly disparaging is apparently remarkably so). Geoff Brock and ‘people like him’ spend countless hours working and advocating for the well being of the wider community and its future, and we should be grateful for their work and their perspectives in the dialogue, whether we agree with them or not. Unlike the work you cite here, community activism is unpaid, selfless, and therefore generally completely lacking in ‘spin’. Please, by all means share your perspective Mr. Rusin, but be careful…your bully is showing.

      • Bob

        Well said Vanessa. I too noticed the 3’rd person reference, and was put off by it as were you. While Peter has had some interesting things to say, it appears that he is always having to backtrack and clarify statements when others disagree. This does not happen when it comes time to vote on the numerous items that are put to council and/or committee meetings.

      • James

        I find it interesting that Ms. Warren, an activist in her own right, is defending Mr. Brock, and showing her true colours in the process. Only an activist is brainwashed enough to make the preposterous claim that activists do not spin the truth to support their cause. Please, the public isn’t stupid Ms. Warren, give us at least a little credit. Activists have the advantage of only having to focus on one or two issues at a time. Members of Council do not have that same luxury, and must represent their Wards and the greater Burlington community on a wide range of issues, issues that require an open mind, not pre-determined biases. Perhaps Ms. Warren is better suited to remain an activist, and pursue her agenda on her own time.