WINDSOR — The City of Windsor’s preferred truck route to the U.S. border seems to be slipping farther from becoming a reality as the Ontario Environment ministry signed off on a competing proposal last week.
That $1.6 billion border Windsor-Essex Parkway plan — designed by the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) study team — had its environmental assessment upheld by the provincial ministry last week.
According to The Windsor Star, which obtained a copy of the ministry’s review, DRIC did an "adequate job" describing how each border crossing alternative was assessed and evaluated in order to arrive at its preferred route.
However, officials within the environment ministry had criticized DRIC’s EA process in the past. The government’s own air quality expert, Dr. Gerald Diamond, said the detail and information in the DRIC EA regarding air quality, specifically, was "sparse."
DRIC has faced strong opposition from Windsor city council and its environmental lawyer, David Estrin, who claims that DRIC had a duty to more seriously consider the city’s Greenlink plan, which is said to offer more below-grade tunneling and green space than the six-lane, Parkway access route.
The city has even threatened to sue the province if DRIC doesn’t give Greenlink — in council’s view — a fairer shake.
The ministry says that DRIC was not under legal obligation to study a plan it did not generate, reports the Star. Still, DRIC did determine that Greenlink was "not an end-to-end solution," costs were not calculated the same way as other alternatives, and air quality analysis showed no additional benefits.
Mayor Eddie Francis said he wasn’t surprised by the ministry’s report, considering the Ontario Liberal government has backed the less expensive Parkway plan from the start.
Estrin will attend council’s meeting today to provide an update on the review and discuss the city’s next move, according to the Star.
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