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Posts Tagged ‘MTO’

This one nearly slipped by…

The GTA West Corridor is likely to be a new expressway coming in from the east at the top of the city that will hook up with the new 400 series expressway previously known as the Hanlon Expressway and the new highway 7.

Sounds great if you like dirty great roads and the attendant environmental impact.

If like me you’d prefer to see the money spent on an efficient environmentally friendly light rail link for Southern Ontario then I’d suggest you take a look at this info and write back to them.

It’s not for nothing that they refer to the Ministry of Transportation as the Ministry for Roads!

From the announcement they sent:

“The report summarizes the process and methodology that was used to identify transportation problems and opportunities in the GTA West
Corridor and documents the key findings of this work. The report also provides further detail and background information on the transportation problems and opportunities that were presented at the March 2009 Public Information Centres.

The entire report can be downloaded from the study website at: http://www.gta-west.com.

The website also features the most up-to-date information on the study schedule and consultation and outreach events.

We look forward to your input and comments on the draft report. Written comments can be provided on the project website at
http://www.gta-west.com/comment-form.php

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emgcn_conversation_cafe_posterEden Mills Carbon Neutral Project is having a “Conservation” Cafe on May 7 to discuss “What makes the kind of community we want to live in?”

Sounds like it will be a very interesting evening.

Makes me think about last week’s discussion at City Hall regarding the MTO’s proposed “improvements” to the Hanlon Expressway…

If there’s one thing that ticks me off it’s being “green” about the easy things but taking a pass on things that are more challenging.

Pity City Council couldn’t have gone to it before they voted.

Anyway, I’m sure a lot of folk from Transition Guelph will attend so there’s still hope that our city will get its green credentials back.

The event takes place at 7.00 p.m. on May 7 in Eden Mills Community Hall. The event is moderated by Jean Robertson.

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Royal City Rag on April 22 focused on the to the MTO‘s proposed “upgrades” to the Hanlon Expressway. Their  “preferred plan” is scheduled to go to Guelph City Council for approval on Monday, April 27.

Transit and Transportation advocate David Graham and Co-Chair of the Guelph Chapter of the Council of Canadians, Dave Sills, joined us in the studio to discuss this important and highly controversial project. 

We also heard a presentation to the Community Development and Environmental Services Committee by Ben Bennett and a commentary from Hanlon Expressway activist Joan Agosta.

Listen to Ben Bennett:

Listen to Joan Agosta:

Many people in Guelph are concerned about the serious environmental, health and social consequences of allowing the Hanlon to become a 400-series 100 km/hr highway that divides our city.

Despite an apparent high degree of public consultation by the MTO there are still many unanswered questions:

How much time will be saved for vehicles using the “improved” highway?

Is there not a danger of transferring the occasional bottleneck the Hanlon experiences in rush hour to another part of the highway network?

Could we not have found a much cheaper way to make the Hanlon a more efficient way to travel?

For instance, why weren’t other options (synchronized lights, longer turn lanes) seriously considered? And, could we be spending the city’s transportation dollars more effectively?

Finally, wouldn’t we be better to hold off on a final decision on the Hanlon until council sees the MTO proposals for upgrades from Wellington to Woodlawn?

With the City of Guelph looking at a bill of at least $16 million to make this a reality –  a figure that is sure to balloon once the cost of service roads needed to maintain a certain  level of livability for those close to the highway are factored into the equation, this decision is likely to be one of the most important, if not the most important, that the current council will face, especially when it may take 10-15 years to see all the upgrades completed.

Bearing in mind that all these “improvements” could be made at the same time as sky-rocketing gasoline prices make automobile travel less appealing, this could be seen to be seriously wrongheaded and highly irresponsible.

If there is one Royal City Rag that you should listen to, this is it.

If there is one issue you should get involved in, this is it.

As a community we need to be careful what we ask for.

Please contact the mayor and councillors if you have any concerns about this project.

Arrange to speak as a delegation at City Council by contacting the City Clerk at 519-837-5603 or clerks@guelph.ca.

Your children will thank you for it.

This project WILL change the fabric of our city… forever.

Contacting City Council:
mayor@guelph.ca
bob.bell@guelph.ca
kathleen.farrelly@guelph.ca
vicki.beard@guelph.ca
ian.findlay@guelph.ca
maggie.laidlaw@guelph.ca
june.hoflund@guelph.ca
gloria.kovach@guelph.ca
mike.salisbury@guelph.ca
lise.burcher@guelph.ca
leanne.piper@guelph.ca
christine.billings@guelph.ca
karl.wettstein@guelph.ca

Music:
Artists In Support Of Concrete Action On Climate Change, You Have A Choice (digital download)
Cat Stevens, Where Will The Children Play? from Tea For The Tillerman

Listen to the show:

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Needed –  A Paradigm Shift
Joan Agosta

The MTO would have us believe that they have engaged in considerable public consultation leading to “important changes” to the plan to upgrade the Hanlon as a freeway.  The recent City Staff report shares the MTO’s opinion, recommending that Council support their latest “Preferred Plan”. From their perspective, the main concerns of the citizens of this city have been addressed and considerable consensus has been reached. I strongly disagree.

Since November 2007, I, along with numerous other citizens, have spent hundreds of hours speaking with concerned citizens, attending meetings, facilitating the signing of petitions, carrying out research, and sharing information regarding the Hanlon. I also participated in the MTO facilitated workshops.  This tightly controlled process ignored the fundamental objections to an expressway in the city and choose to address mainly the “not in my backyard” concerns. The arguments pointing out that the  upgrades are not only wrong but irresponsible, have, by and large, been relegated to an afterthought (oh, by the way, a few citizens  raised concerns about the impact on air and water quality, flooding, the ultimate necessity for a freeway).

Upgrading the Hanlon to an expressway would be irresponsible:

1. We are 40 years too late. The Hanlon was conceived in 1969; Guelph’s population was half what it is today with little or no housing in the surrounding area. Both the City and the Province have allowed the adjacent area to be developed. Today the Hanlon backs right up into homes. There are five schools in close proximity to the College and Stone interchanges, and two day care centres: St. Rene Goupil and The YMCA/YWCA.

2. Expressways and people don’t mix. City staff pretend that air quality will improve with the upgrades, less stop and go traffic. With an increase of traffic on the Hanlon of up to 50,000 vehicles per day, there will be an associated increase in noise and air pollutants from exhaust emissions.  The Ontario government is studying a massive expansion of the transportation network in the Golden Horseshoe over the next 20 years. Will Guelph’s Hanlon become a convenient North-South bypass to the 401, 407 and 403?

3. Poor air quality is killing us. According to a 2005 study carried out by The Ontario Medical Association, air pollution caused an estimated 5,800 premature deaths, almost 17,000 hospital admissions and almost 60,000 Ontarians to visit hospital emergency rooms. We know how devastating poor air quality is to our health, especially for those living near highways. Children growing to adulthood within 500 meters of a freeway were at the greatest risk.The adverse health impacts in Ontario each year from trans-boundary air pollution include more than 2,700 premature deaths, almost 12,000 hospital admissions, and almost 14,000 emergency room visits. The OMA report estimates the cost of air pollution to the economy of Ontario at $16 B per year!

4. Ontario acceptable noise levels are too high for our health. A University of Guelph report compares permitted maximum Residential noise levels in Canada (55 dB) with other countries and, most importantly, the World Health Organization (45 dB). Acoustic walls are fettered with problems and can actually increase noise or deflect the noise to other areas in the community. The MTO has their own standards for noise levels: levels are negotiated with the Ministry of the Environment. During PIC #2, an MTO representative commented that if we lived along the QEW in Toronto the levels would be around 80 or 85 so these really weren’t so bad.

5. We need a paradigm shift in the way we think about transportation. At an emergency summit in Copenhagen last week, scientist issued a desperate plea for world leaders to curb green house gas emissions or face an ecological and social disaster (the Guardian, March 20-26, 2009). We need to put the environment in the forefront of every decision we make. Building expressways is not sustainable. Todd Litman from the Victoria Transport Policy Institute in B.C. in ReInventing Transportation states: Sustainability requires more efficient, equitable and environmentally sensitive transport. This cannot be achieved simply by improving the efficiency of vehicle designs or traffic management. It requires changes in the way we think about transportation, and how we identify and evaluate solutions to transport problems. Transport planners often treat vehicle movement as an end in itself. Sustainable transportation planning focuses on access,which can often be improved with strategies that reduce the need to travel altogether. (http://www.vtpi.org/reinvent.pdf)

Many of us are making the connection between the devastation of the environment, the economic crisis with huge job losses, and the choices we make on a day to day basis.  We are trying to reduce our footprint on the environment, repair damage done in the past and, in general, make responsible decisions in view of the legacy we are leaving to our children.  Expressways are not part of that legacy.

Joan Agosta, M.Ed.
Learning Specialist

Listen to Joan Agosta:

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We will be devoting the whole of Royal City Rag on April 22 to the proposed “improvements” to the Hanlon Expressway. The MTO has come up with their “preferred plan”. The matter is now coming to City Council for approval on Monday, April 27.

David Graham and Dave Sills will be joining us in the studio to discuss a project that many believe is too late, too extensive and too expensive in these uncertain economic times. A 100 km/hr 400-series urban highway that will not only effectively split our city in two, but also comes with unpredictable social, heath and environmental consequences.

Yet there are still many unanswered questions:

How much time will be saved on the average commute?

Is there not a danger of transferring the occasional bottleneck the Hanlon experiences in rush hour to another part of the highway network?

Could we not have found a much cheaper way to make the Hanlon a more efficient way to travel?

For instance, why weren’t other options (synchronized lights, longer turn lanes) considered? And, could we be spending the city’s transportation dollars more effectively?

Finally, wouldn’t we be better to hold off on a final decision on the Hanlon until council sees the MTO proposals for upgrades from Wellington to Woodlawn?

This is likely to be the most important decision that we will take. A decision that will have far reaching consequences, especially when you consider that the upgrades may take 10-15 years to complete.

Bearing in mind that all these “improvements” could be made at the same time as sky-rocketing gasoline prices make automobile travel less appealing, this could be seen to be seriously wrongheaded and highly irresponsible.

Will this be the legacy of the current council?

Promises to be a great discussion. Join us Wednesday, 6-7 p.m. on CFRU93.3fm, Guelph’s Campus Community radio station. Get informed and get engaged. Your city needs you!

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Transit and Transportation advocate David Graham will be joining us again on Royal City Rag on March 11.

Among other things we’ll be talking about the GTA West Corridor project and the proposed upgrades to the Hanlon Expressway. David also has some interesting things to say about the Go Trains coming to Guelph and why a true Park and Ride facility would be good for Guelph.

The show won’t just be about transit though…

We also have a great interview with Sid Ryan, President of CUPE Ontario about why we should ditch bottled water.

Listen live on CFRU 93.3fm, Guelph’s Campus and Community Radio Station or after the fact via the website.

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I received this notice regarding the second round of public information centres for the GTA West Corridor Project. There’s still time to ensure that your voice is heard.

The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) is proceeding with the GTA West Corridor Planning and Environmental Assessment (EA) Study, in accordance with the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act (the Act).

The EA Terms of Reference (ToR), approved by the Ontario Minister of the Environment on March 4, 2008, outlines the EA study framework and the minimum considerations that will be followed in completing the EA.

The Study is now in the process of identifying Transportation Problems and Opportunities in the Preliminary Study Area. This will later assist the Project Team in examining the effectiveness of alternative transportation improvements.

The first round of Public Information Centres (PICs) was held during the ToR.

The second round of PICs has now been arranged to provide interested stakeholders and members of the public with an opportunity to review and comment on recent work towards the identification of Problems and Opportunities.

The PICs will be conducted as a drop-in format from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Members of the Project Team will be available to discuss the study and to respond to questions or concerns.

The dates, times and locations of the second round of PICs are:

  • Wednesday March 4 2009, 4.00 – 8.00 p.m.
    River Run Centre – Canada Company Hall, 35 Woolwich St Guelph, ON
  • Thursday March 5 2009, 4.00 – 8.00 p.m.
    Brampton Fairgrounds – Hall 12942, Heart Lake Rd Caledon, ON
  • Monday March 9 2009, 4.00 – 8.00 p.m.
    Mold-Master Sportsplex – Alcott Hall, 221 Guelph St Georgetown, ON
  • Wednesday  March 11 2009, 4.00 – 8.00 p.m.
    Le Jardin Special Events Centre – Venetian Room, 8440 Highway 27 Woodbridge, ON
  • Thursday March 12 2009, 4.00 – 8.00 p.m.
    Pearson Convention Center – Hall C 2638, Steeles Ave E Brampton, ON

Should you require further information, please contact Mr. Jin Wang, Project Coordinator with the Ministry of Transportation, at 905-704-2117, or Mr. Neil Ahmed, the Consultant Project Manager with McCormick Rankin Corporation, at 905-823-8500.

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