The 407 is a toll highway owned by a private conglomerate. There are plans on the books to expand the highway. Expansion is necessary, one Oshawa resident quoted in an article by The Star’s Carola Vyhnak says, to give Oshawa “a kick start to get back on its feet.” Sure.
But okay. This is not a Toronto issue and I am nothing if not a Toronto-centric blogger. The relevant part comes as a result of the recent news from Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne that the highway would be built in phases, with the second phase currently unfunded.
This has prompted a firestorm of protest. And this bit of craziness, from Oshawa Mayor John Henry, a steel driving man, in a letter he wrote to the premier in December:
A two-phased approach [to 407 construction] will have crippling impacts on Durham and Peterborough. Furthermore, if government expenditures are a concern, we request you consider the reallocation of the $8.15 billion that may not be used for Toronto’s LRT to extend the 407 project to 35/115 as planned.
via Oshawa Mayor John Henry’s Open Letter to Dalton McGuinty.
I’m not suggesting there’s any chance we’d see a wholesale transfer of currently committed funding for transit onto a highway project, but I did think it important to point out that there are numerous people in high-ranking places in this province who don’t see the value of transit. They care about highways.
Case in point: this comment from Conservative MPP Christine Elliott, who promises to make the 407 construction one of the biggest issues of this fall’s provincial election:
“It’s not just the people of Columbus who are affected, it’s a widespread concern,” she said. “We need the 407 for our economic growth and our ability to travel.”
The vast majority of planned provincial transit money doesn’t come into effect until 2015. Keep that in mind as the provincial election rhetoric kicks up this year.