Toronto – The Ontario Greenbelt Alliance is sending a message to Metrolinx about its proposed transit plan, “your new highways, will lead to new sprawl”.  Though the full plan has not been finalized, a draft plan that appeared in the Toronto Star today proposes new highway extensions north, east and west of the city, to communities already fighting the problems of urban sprawl and could threaten community health and safety.

Further to the proposed highway extensions, Metrolinx has outlined transportation corridors under study, all of which appear to be further new highway expansion. The major transportation corridors under consideration would connect the communities of Guelph and Bolton, bisecting the Greenbelt and putting pressure to develop on protected agricultural and natural areas adjacent to the highway expansion.

“The proposed highway extensions are going to act like magnets for new sprawl, which will only drive further expansion of those roads” said Rick Smith, Executive Director of Environmental Defence. “We want to build communities that are sustainable. No new highways should be proposed until a viable transit option is available for those communities.”
Highway expansion removes significant vegetation, destroys wetlands and threatens groundwater recharge areas.  In some regions, this can jeopardize water supplies and increase the threat of flooding.

“Communities need transit systems that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, not encourage them” said Derek Coronado, Research and Policy Coordinator of Citizens Environmental Alliance of southwestern Ontario. “The proposed new highways expansions only encourage the old-fashioned style of urban development and put our environment and health at risk.

The Ontario Greenbelt Alliance finds the proposed highway extensions unacceptable and  says the proposal must be reconsidered before Metrolinx releases the full draft transportation plan later this month.

“At a time when people are demanding significant new investments in transit and more local food, these proposed highways put the GTA on the wrong track for the future” said Janet May, Executive Director of the Ontario Smart Growth Network.

About the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance: The Ontario Greenbelt Alliance is a diverse multi-stakeholder coalition of more than 80 organizations who share a common vision for protecting and expanding the Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt. Environmental Defence is the coordinator of the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance. www.greenbeltalliance.ca. 
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For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Mike Layton, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext 257; (416) 525-5758 (cell)