Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press
Posted Thursday, March 10, 2022 12:48 PM EST
Last updated Thursday, March 10, 2022 at 12:48 PM EST
from Ontario Vision at 30 years to expand transportation networks around Toronto includes the expansion of freeways and potential new transit networks, although many elements of the plan are not fully costed.
Premier Doug Ford, who will seek re-election with his Progressive Conservatives in June, announced the long-range plan Thursday at a location along the route of Highway 413, a key part of the proposed expansion road of his government.
The public has not been told the full cost of this project, nor of the Bradford Bypass project, another previously announced part of the broad but vague transport development plan.
“A province growing as fast as ours needs a transportation network to support it,” Ford said in Woodbridge, Ont.
“We need more roads, more highways, more options for getting around, and that’s exactly where we put your money.”
The province said the Greater Golden Horseshoe region – which stretches north to Georgian Bay, south to Lake Erie, west to Wellington County and the Region of Waterloo and east to Peterborough – expected to grow to 15 million people by 2051, from the current population of 10 million.
Documents presented by Transportation Department officials described the region as the “economic engine of the province and the country” and said the transportation plan is aimed at tackling anticipated traffic jams and moving goods efficiently.
These documents did not include cost breakdowns for many specific projects. But over the next decade, the province said it plans to spend $61 billion on public transit and more than $21 billion on highways.
Highway costs include portions of the Bradford Bypass and Highway 413 Bypass projects. Construction start dates have not been set for either highway, and concerns have raised regarding environmental impacts and whether the routes will save drivers significant time on their journeys.
Ford didn’t respond directly when asked Thursday why the public doesn’t know the full cost of highways. He said the growing population must “get from point A to point B as quickly as possible”.
“People don’t want to sit in traffic. We are going to make sure we continue to build highways, roads and bridges across the province,” he said.
The transportation plan also mentioned ‘conceptual’ new transportation connections between Burlington and Oshawa north of Toronto and a loop connecting Ontario’s transit line to Toronto’s personal international airport, though few details. have been presented on the proposed routes and other details of these plans.
There are also plans to widen and extend the existing highways.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, whose party intends to scrap plans for the Bradford and Highway 413 bypass if elected in June, has slammed the highway plans as unnecessary and damaging for the environment. She also said the long-term transportation plan presented was unrealistic.
“It’s another campaign gimmick from Ford,” she said.
Green leader Mike Schreiner called the two highways “financial and climate disasters” that would ultimately make life less affordable as people are forced to live further from work and commute longer.
“Ford’s transportation plan will prepare for the future of our children,” he said.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on March 10, 2022.