Do we really need to build a new highway through the Town of Halton Hills to connect the 401 to the 400?
The Ministry of Transportation believes we may, someday, and their staff is planning for the possibility of a new highway through their GTA West Transportation Corridor Route Planning and EA Study. The study was initiated in 2007, and is now in Stage 2.
Town of Halton Hills Council say “no” to the proposed new highway, citing numerous concerns including climate change, urban sprawl, and the need to protect the Greenbelt and prime agricultural lands.
And to its credit, Town Council has consistently proposed thoughtful alternatives, including the widening of the 401 through Halton Region with the construction of new lanes, a project which is currently underway.
As an MPP, I have always sought to work closely with our local government partners, and help any way possible.
In the fall of 2011, in support of the Town’s position, I took the issue to the floor of the Ontario Legislature, and together we expressed concerns about what the Ministry called its “Alternative 4-3” route.
I continue to have many questions about the Ministry’s latest proposal. What would it cost? How would it be financed? What would the benefits be? How much time would it save drivers? When would construction commence? When would it be completed? What about the environmental concerns? What about the traffic congestion problems in Acton and Norval? How can we give our local residents a meaningful opportunity to comment, before final decisions are made?
Following up on the Town’s resolution, I requested and received a briefing on the GTA West study from senior Ministry of Transportation staff. I have asked them to extend the same opportunity to Mayor Rick Bonnette and Town officials.
In the 30 years I have served in the Ontario Legislature, I have seen highway studies like this one go on for decades. We are 13 years into the GTA West study. Still, we need to monitor it carefully, with an eye to the long-term future of our area and the Province.