They’re back; bureaucrats beaver away at maps showing where the highway we were promised would not be built is going to go.

By Sue McMaster

Co-chair, Citizens Opposed to Paving the Escarpment.


BURLINGTON, ON  May 23, 2012  The Stop Escarpment Highway Coalition (SEHC) is calling on the Provincial Government to stop wasting money, especially on a highway they promised not to build: the Niagara to Greater Toronto Area (NGTA) highway.

Despite facing immense fiscal challenges, the McGuinty government is quietly spending money on the NGTA highway that local governments and citizens oppose in part because it will divert money from transit and make traffic congestion worse by dumping more traffic onto the already overloaded GTA highways. Moving ahead with the highway also contradicts a Liberal pre-election promise.

The purple lines are the ones you want to pay attention to - this is where they want to build a six lane highway.

Legend for map displayed.

In August 2011, prior to the October election, then Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne announced that Ontario’s Liberal government would not build the western portion of the Niagara to GTA highway. “We were pleased that Minister Wynne saw the logic in our group’s position: a highway isn’t needed now and, with gas prices rising rapidly and congestion in the GTA, it certainly won’t meet Ontario’s needs in years to come. Evidently, that promise vanished after the election,” says Susan McMaster of Citizens Opposed to Paving the Escarpment (COPE).

Back in 2002 COPE, a member group of the SEHC, led public opposition to the NGTA, then known as the Mid-Peninsula Highway. Planned to run from Fort Erie, through Flamborough it would meet up with the 407 in North Burlington. “They said we needed a highway in the area, but their assessment and numbers didn’t add up,” says McMaster. “The GTA was and is experiencing significant congestion; anybody could look at a map and note that the highway is a bad idea.” Public pressure forced the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) to take a second look at the project and they conceded that no highway was needed – at least between the Fort Erie and Flamborough section, but the push remained to build a highway through the heart of rural Flamborough and Burlington – until Minister Wynne’s empty pre-election promise.

Mayor Goldring didn't look as if he believed then Minister of Transportation Kathleen Wynne during the provincial election. There is a different Minister now and they are talking a different story.

“Going ahead with the planning for this highway after they said they wouldn’t build it is pure folly” said Geoff Brock, Chair of SEHC. “An Ontario Government Agency, Metrolinx, has mapped future congestion in the GTHA. It is exactly where anybody in the GTHA knows it will be. Starting in Burlington and increasing Eastward on the way to downtown Toronto. This highway we’re talking about – skirts the Western end of Burlington – culminating at Burlington and putting more pressure on an already severely congested area.”

Brock notes that at a recent Transportation Forum organized by the Federation of Urban Neighborhoods (Ontario) in Markham the message was clear – congestion will not be solved by more roads. We’ll be adding 2.5 million people to the GTHA in the next 20 years, and we won’t solve our congestion problem with more expressways. “There was a lot of anger expressed at the lack of transit,” he says. Clearly there’s a disconnect between what the MTO is planning for transportation and what people want.”

The SEHC is ramping up the pressure on the Provincial government to honour their promise and to build transit. The SEHC wants Premier McGuinty to give the money being spent on the NGTA

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