When the McGuinty Government created the Greenbelt in 2005, it signalled a change in direction for Southern Ontario. In theory, this would create a “permanently protected” ring of greenspace to buffer the exploding suburban sprawl in the last few decades. At the time, many of us were sceptical that the development-driven government would change its spots so quickly, but we held out hope that this might help avoid losing any more precious spaces.

So, in order to safeguard the greenbelt, they’re going to build a major highway right down the middle of it. Hopes: crushed.

The mid-Peninsula (Mid-Pen) highway plans to run from Ft. Erie and Niagra falls (forking to each), through Smithville and over to the Lincoln Alexander Parkway, then past the 403 out into Flamborough and up through Burlington, finally reaching the 407 ETR. Exact routing details are sketchy at this point, but the effect on homes, farms and greenspace is likely to be severe. Take a look on Google Maps and try to devise a way to do this.

Public opposition to this “$6 Billion” road has been seriously mounting, ever since the project was announced. With Groups like COPE (the Coalition Against Paving the Escarpment), interviewed in this month’s Mayday Magazine, and PALS (the Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society) lleading the charge. It’s been recently written that “the Province can expect a war over their new highway“, and I only hope they’re right.

A highway, even a multi-billion dollar six-lane highway, takes up relatively little land. The land it affects, however, goes well beyond. Farms are cut in half, watersheds destroyed and large amounts of property expropriated. More threatening, though, is the way roads open up space for development. This is often a primary motivation for the roads and their routes, especially in Ontario. Immediately following Mayor DiIanni’s electoral win, which sealed the fate of the Red Hill Valley, DeSantis Real Estate announced a billion dollars worth of development. In the spectator article, they proudly declared that “the [Red Hill] Expressway was the linchpin”. DeSantis, by the way, was one of those local developers who made illegal donations to DiIanni’s campaign.

The intentions for the Mid-Pen highway are clear to anyone who regularly drives in these areas. Sprawl is already endemic in most of them, but becoming harder to sustain as it spreads farther from existing highway networks. A new road would extend the range at which business parks (like Aerotropolis), suburbs (like those in Ancaster, Flamborough or Burlington) and big box retail complexes can be brought into this network. It would enshrine everything from Milton to Caledonia to Smithville becomes part of Greater TOronto’s bedroom communities. It would lay the groundwork for decades more sprawl in the area, and devastate countless small towns, farms, homes and natural areas. Say goodbye to the Greenbelt.

Lower Hamilton is already crippled under the weight of financing ill-conceived highway projects and suburban expansion. Our rural neighbours are already being paved at an alarming degree. We can’t afford this highway, and we don’t need it either. We can fight it, too. This highway will cross a very good chunk of Southern Ontario and enrage many communities along the way. Only one needs to successfully block it to win.

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