BURLINGTON, Ont. — Local politicians here are hoping to hold their own review the Burlington portion of a proposed mid-peninsula highway, separate from other impacted regions.
While on the surface this may sound like it would only slow the project down, Burlington Mayor Rob MacIsaac says quite the opposite is true. He wants councils concerns over the highway — which is likely to slice through the Niagara Escarpment in rural Burlington — met without delaying the Niagara portion of the project.
“One of the stakeholders in this project is the politicians down the peninsula and by requesting this, we are telling them ‘we do not want to hold you up,'” he says. “We are prepared to go ahead with their part — we understand it’s important to them down there.”
The region will ask the province to divide the project into two separate environmental assessment projects to ensure the Burlington portion gets sufficient study and public input.
Prior to the Ontario Public Services Employees Union strike, the provincial Ministry of Transportation was working on establishing the terms of reference for the project’s environmental assessment, which will define the scope of the process.
But ministry officials have concerns of their own when it comes to splitting the project.
“If we divided it into two sections, we believe it won’t adequately address the issues and that could cause transportation problems,” ministry official Fred Leech told the regional council last week.
It is clear, though, provincial officials are taking the concerns of Burlington and Halton seriously and transport officials maintain the exact route has not been determined.
“The study area is so narrow in Halton-Burlington that it is, quite frankly, a route,” Burlington Councillor John Taylor insists. “To have a 400 series highway down the escarpment is obscene … We need to broaden the study area to look at real alternatives.”
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