Ontario’s Greenbelt aims to protect sensitive natural areas and farmland. But Ontario is planning a highway that would cut through the greenbelt and damage both farmland and green space.
The proposed highway, GTA West, would pave over 2,000 acres of prime farmland in the Greenbelt.
The GTA West website claims that the highway, proposed for 13 km north of Vaughan City Centre, would service urban growth centres in Ontario’s Places to Grow Plan. But, the closest urban growth areas – Vaughan and Brampton – are already serviced by the 407, 400, 427 and 410. And expansions are planned for three of the four existing highways. Does the GTA really need yet another major highway?
Public transit expansion is also planned for these areas, including the new subway for Vaughan and dedicated bus lanes along Highway 7 connecting Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Brampton. With these investments in transit Vaughan, Brampton and Richmond Hill will be well served by local and regional transit services.
An irresponsible route
The Greenbelt Plan requires that key natural heritage areas be avoided when planning, designing and constructing any infrastructure unless there is no reasonable alternative. But, this highway cuts right through the Greenbelt.
And a reasonable alternative exists. The highway could easily be moved south, but that option wasn’t presented to members of the public participating in the GTA West consultations. Members of the public were asked to map the route of the NEW highway but the maps handed out didn’t illustrate the Greenbelt or any of the farms, forests, or wetlands in the planning area.
A better alternative
With the obvious need for public transit funding and investments needed throughout the Greater Golden Horseshoe area to expand existing highways, why are we investing billions of taxpayers’ money in NEW highways which serve such a small predominantly rural area of the GTA?
Instead of spending money to pave over farmland and forests, we should be investing in public transit, which can move more people across the region and doesn’t damage our shared environment. Besides, new highways don’t prevent gridlock. They just encourage more people to drive, which means more traffic jams, and more air pollution.
Make your voice heard!
Tell the province how you feel about the proposed GTA West Highway. Email comments by September 30, 2014 to firstname.lastname@example.org.