The province will present their thinking on a Niagara GTA roadway to the Region July 4; event will be webcast.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  June 25, 2012   There is going to be an interesting provincial government presentation at the Regional Public Works Committee early in July.

The Regional people will finally have the provincial government on Regional turf  telling their story and answering questions on what their current provincial government thinking is on the Niagara GTA road the province wants to ram through a stretch of land from Kilbride down into Lowville in the northern part of the city.

It should be an interesting session.  Regional Chair Gary Carr sees it as interesting and important enough to stream live on the Halton Website.

This map sets out the area within which the province wants to create a new highway at some point in the future. The highway is referred to as the NGTA - Niagara to GTA road.

This issue has been lurking in the background for years .  The most recent shift in provincial policy came to light when the provincial government advised the Region of a change they wanted made in the Region’s Official Plan.  Many were stunned when they saw a map with a road coming into Burlington at the Kilbride area and stretching down into Lowville.  The document arrived in Burlington during the last municipal election.  At that time none of the candidates picked up on the letter from the province but it didn’t take them very long to get very vocal immediately after the election.

During the provincial election campaign Transportation Minister Wynne (on the right) came to town and was escorted by then Liberal candidate Karmel Sakran. Mayor Goldring listens to the Minister with a degree of skepticism - he wasn't buying her story.

When we got into the provincial election it was certainly an issue.  Nothing got resolved other than the Conservatives talking jobs and the Liberals and New Democrats talking environment – and Councillor John Taylor seeing the battle of his career rise before him.

Referred to as "the green arrow map" it showed in a little more detail just where the road, planned for the future was going to go and it shook the daylights out of the Halton Region and the municipalities within the Region.

Taylor has been telling anyone who will listen that the province started talking about what is now highway 407 back in 1972 – and while many protested then it didn’t make a difference – except for the developers who now had a chunk of land between Highway 5 – Dundas Road and the new 407 they could develop – and it didn’t take long for them to gobble up much of that land where the new Alton community now resides.

For the northern, rural part of Burlington to have any legitimacy development has to stop at the Highway 5/407 boundary.  Despite the existence of the zoning in place, the Executive Director of the city’s Economic Development Corporation thinks there could be “some development” on the northern side of 407, which he sees as prime location for companies that want signage that can be seen from the 407.

The land within the red border is land that became available for development when the rural border got pushed north of Dundas. The orange blob to the right is where the Evergreen community will be built. The new Alton community is in the centre with the light circle. All this land became available because the rural border got moved north. Should there ever be a highway north of the existing 407/Dundas boundary – imagine how such develop-able land will be created.

If there is ever a road built through the Escarpment lands, this will have the effect of moving the boundary between the suburban and rural parts of the city further north.  The moment that boundary  moves further north you will see development applications flooding the city and appeals made to change the way the Niagara  Escarpment Commission does business.

The “develop-able land”  created by the movement of the current boundary further north will put tremendous pressure on the politicians – by the developers – to open up that land for housing, prime property housing one might add.  The lure of the development charges to the city and the Region will be such that it will be very difficult, if not impossible over time, to prevent development.

And should that happen – you might as well just merge Burlington and Oakville into one municipality and save on the administration costs.

This fight is a fight to the finish for Burlington – and it has to be taken to the province and won at that level.

What Burlington needs is a solution similar to the one the province came up with in 1971 to put an end to the plans to build the Spadina Expressway in Toronto.  Bill Davis, the then Premier of Ontario, a real Progressive Conservative one might add,  blocked the development of the Spadina Expressway.   To ensure it never got another chance Davis, on his last day in office as Premier of Ontario, gave the city of Toronto a 1 metre (3.3 ft) wide strip of the land on the south side of Eglinton Ave. West at the Allen intersection, with a 99-year lease, blocking any possible extension to the south.  That was the stake through the heart that killed the Spadina Expressway forever.

Gary Car, Regional Chair, was once the Speaker of the provincial legislature, and while he wasn’t there when Bill Davis was Premier he knows how right Davis was.  Time for Gary Carr to do what Bill Davis did and come up with an idea as innovative and take it to the province and ask them to “make it so”.

Davis said in the Legislature, when he made the decision to give that strip of land to Toronto:

“If we are building a transportation system to serve the automobile, the Spadina Expressway would be a good place to start. But if we are building a transportation system to serve people, the Spadina Expressway is a good place to stop”

Change the words Spadina Expressway to NGTA highway and this will do the job for Burlington.  Make the author of the words Gary Carr and he will be forever remembered and lauded as a great politician and not just a hockey player.  Mind you, Carr was a pretty good hockey player; we just think he can do better.

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3 comments to The province will present their thinking on a Niagara GTA roadway to the Region July 4; event will be webcast.

  • william wallace

    Informative article. Minister Bill Davis set a good example stopping the Spadina Subway expansion in Toronto. Let’s hope Gary Carr with the Niagara Toronto highway expansion.

  • Warthog

    Let’s hope we can stop this nonsense for once and for all and start working on Metrolinx’s The Big
    Move and get the transit we need instead of more roads around the periphery of GTA congestion.

  • Geoff Brock

    Great article Pepper. This is a complex story and you’ve done a great job of summarizing it accurately and in a way everyone can understand!

    I’ll be sure to pass it along to the SEHC members.