Life is a highway… but it doesn’t have to be

Much has been made of the idea to build a highway through the escarpment that would connect Niagara with the Greater Toronto area: Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) with the 401.  Town council voted against the idea instead deciding to back a recommendation to widen the 401 through Milton.  A new highway would decrease the supply of prime farmland in this area, plus likely do environmental damage as well.

There are fears that although the Liberals have shot down the idea, if Hudak wins the October election he will go ahead with it.  They may be justified- nobody can see the future.  Flipping it around- if the Liberals are re-elected they may go ahead with the highway after all it is an election year.  I think, coming from a farming area himself Hudak may be more understanding about it.  The fact we’re even talking about a new highway acknowledges in the future we could have a problem with mobility for people and goods.

Maybe what we need here, isn’t necessarily a new highway.  Maybe what we need is a wholesale culture makeover.  A growing number of us work in jobs where we don’t have to physically go to an office five days a week, or are lucky enough that thanks to technology we can work from home all the time.  A number of us carpool.  What if we gave tax breaks to businesses who allowed teleworking? Or what if we gave area businesses discounted transit passes?

I believe if you build it they will come- as corny as it sounds.If you build me a reliable, affordable, accessible transit system I’ll be just as likely to use it as to drive the car- maybe more so depending on my destination.  I see Metrolinx making slow progress in that direction; Councilor Colin Best added an amendment at Regional Council that would ask Metrolinx to accelerate their “Big Move” projects.  so we’re making slow progress, and I know there are plans to improve things  in the future by connecting the different areas of Halton Region through transit. 

I’d also make it so that any new main road more than two lanes (a Louis St. Laurent type of street), should have at least one lane either direction dedicated to public transit/ H.O.V. (carpool) traffic.  Provincially make it so that any future new highway (e.g. : 400 series) should have at least one lane in either direction dedicated to transit.  If the highway is 8-12 lanes in each direction, I’d increase it to a minimum of two lanes in either direction.   It was a huge mistake not developing transit at the same time as we developed roads, and our communities, if we had we might not have this problem now. 

As Tom Cochrane says “Life is a highway.”  But it doesn’t have to be in Halton if we start making transit a regular part of our lives and a part of our future.

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Filed under Dalton McGuinty, Milton Town Council, municpial politics, provincial politics, Tim Hudak

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