Hwy 407 Opposition Group.
Shifting Gears: From Highways to Transit
Started in 1993 with public funding, Highway 407 is now an expensive private toll highway extending 108 kilometres from Highway 403 in Burlington to Brock Road in Pickering.
Highway 407 East Completion is a plan to extend this highway 60 kilomteres further east through the lush farmlands and forests of Durham Region to Hwy 35/115.
Hwy 407 East Completion is undergoing an environmental assessment review. Concerned citizens have written to provincial and federal government officials to request a thorough environmental assessment of road, non-road and transit "alternatives" and "alternative methods" with respect to:
- regional air quality, smog, asthma and public health issues;
- urban sprawl and loss of farmland and greenspace;
- toll versus no toll, private versus public ownership;
- accident rates, insurance and health care costs;
- water quality, aquifers, wells, streams, fisheries and Great Lakes Water Quality;
- wetlands, woodlands, migratory bird habitat, species at risk and biodiversity;
- greenhouse gas emissions, climate extremes and Kyoto commitments.
Water rushing down Rouge Valley slope
after trees were clear-cut for the Hwy 407
East Partial extension.
Silt entering Rouge River from Hwy 407
construction harms fish habitat (May, 2000).
Rouge Valley and Park before and
during construction of the Hwy 407.
A growing number of people believe that a moratorium should be placed on GTA highway extensions and urban sprawl to protect our environment, health and quality of life. Many people want our available transportation budget to be spent on integrated public transit systems, traffic-demand-management and air-pollution-reduction – rather than large highway extensions that tend to subsidize sprawl and increase pollution.
POINTS TO PONDER
Did You Know?
- According to the Institute for Science and Technology Policy at Merdoch University (Perth, Australia), wealth in developed cities declines as more people drive cars more often and economic growth is enhanced when public transit is promoted.
Highways, Air Pollution and Public Health
- Dr. Pengelly, an air quality and public health researcher and retired University Professor with 40 years experience, states that:
- The proposed eastern extension of Hwy 407 will have significant adverse effects on air quality and public health...
- Ministry of Transportation studies make a number of flawed assumptions which lead to a significant under-estimation of the emissions of health-damaging pollutants;
- The air quality standards used by the MTO-studies are out-dated and many recent studies show significant health damage at pollution levels well below the standards used in the MTO-studies.
- A September 10, 1999, letter from Health Canada regarding Hwy 407 East Partial states that:
“The [MTO) reports indicate that air quality will be in compliance with all applicable Ontario criteria except PM  and ozone.... PM  and ozone are currently the air quality parameters of greatest concern with regards to human health.... the health effects of ozone are clear and significant,..."
“I am not aware of any situation where road building has delivered improvements in air quality,... Estimates for the next 20 years that I am familiar with indicate that total fleet emissions will increase, even while the emissions from individual cars decrease, due to the greater number of miles driven. This latter phenomenon is largely driven by the continual building of new roads, thus maintaining a high degree of convenience in the use of personal and commercial vehicles."
Highways and Water Pollution
- According to an article in Water Science Tech. Volume 39, No. 12, pp. 33-39, 1999, by J. Marselek, Q. Rochfort, B. Brownlee, T. Mayer and M. Servos:
“Urban stormwater can exhibit acute toxicity and genotoxicity... The highest frequency of severe toxic responses was found for winter multi-lane divided highway runoff, sampled at the edge of the pavement... almost 20 percent of multi-lane divided highways were severely toxic....” [sampled sites included Hwy 401 (Rouge River) and the Burlington Skyway]
- In a letter to the federal Minister of Fisheries, Dr. Ken Howard states:
“As a professor of hydrogeology at the University of Toronto with many years research experience relating to road salting issues and groundwater impacts in southern Ontario, I have serious concerns with the manner in which Highway 407 is being “fast-tracked” across the province.... Our recently published research shows that the proposed extension crosses a region noted for a series of important yet highly susceptible shallow aquifers. These [aquifers] are used for domestic water supply and are seriously threatened by the proposed activity. In addition, research findings show that... a very significant amount of [the base flow which supports local streams and fisheries] is contributed by recharge entering via unusually permeable tills [soils] closely adjacent to the hwy 407 route....”
for a high quality PDF (497 KB) version of this map.