With many supporting the creation of the GTA West and 413 corridor, Orangeville council feels it will bring more harm and do nothing to alleviate traffic concerns.
Following in the footsteps of several other municipalities, Coun. Grant Peters successfully requested council to support and submit a letter he’s written on the issue to the province.
“The intent is to encourage the province to look at mass transit in a more sustainable way,” Peters said. “Not to take the easy path of another highway that will fill with cars very quickly, while tearing up the greenbelt and encouraging development on either side of the highway.”
The GTA West Corridor would never actually reach the boundaries of Orangeville, but it would cross land owned by the Orangeville Rail Development Corporation (ORGC), along with additional development closer to the area.
Peters said the highway would impact any planned or potential trailways the Region of Peel, Town of Orangeville, or Credit Valley might have that could extend through that corridor.
“The position here is that, as proposed, the GTA West does not align with Orangeville’s priorities and perhaps the province’s priorities, and I think as a neighbour, geographically and politically, as well as a landowner in the area, I think we should take a position.”
Councillors Todd Taylor and Debbie Sherwood both shared concerns about the motion, and were the only two to vote in opposition.
Sherwood noted she was uncomfortable using the trails argument as grounds for opposition.
“We still only use it as a railway,” said Sherwood. “I’m having a little bit of a problem approving your motion because there is no recreational trail plan.”
The wording in Peter’s letter states that a regional recreational trail is under consideration, as the town is currently consider potential offers for the sale of its rail corridor. While no sale has been confirmed publicly, the letter does suggest progress is being made.
Peters said the language was kept vague in that respect because while there are no current definitive plans, the Region of Peel has begun looking into it as a possibility.
“There is some public knowledge and direction from the Region of Peel for that,” he explained. “The highway going right through a corridor that is being considered for that trail is a black mark on that development.”
But is the development that would be encouraged by the highway and the increase in traffic flow towards this part of Ontario such a bad thing?
Taylor doesn’t think so, citing that as the reason he opposed the motion.
“I’m looking forward to Highway 413 being built,” he said. “I think it will be a great benefit to our area and I’m in support of it.”
Other members of local municipal governments have also spoken in favour of the development, seeing it as a positive move for the area. In 2019, Dufferin County Warden Darren White told the Banner he was pleased to see the Ford government refocus efforts on the project.
“Any 400-series highway coming any closer than it is now would certainly be a benefit to attracting new businesses and residents,” White said. “New highways in conjunction with new transit is certainly something that southern Ontario needs.”
Despite Taylor and Sherwood’s argument, the rest of council voted in favour of the motion with no additional discussion.
The letter will be circulated to Premier Doug Ford, MPP Sylvia Jones, the Minister of Transportation, the Town of Caledon, the Region of Peel, and Halton Region.
Tabitha Wells/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Banner