Vaughan citizens understand the direct relationship between road expansion and traffic congestion.
If you build a new highway or road, it will inevitably be filled to capacity with vehicles. Take for example the extension of Hwy. 427 from Hwy. 7 to Zenway Boulevard. Soon after it opened, the 427 had become more congested during rush hour than ever before.
Most citizens are unaware of a new highway being proposed by the province, the GTA West Corridor. It will extend across the north of Vaughan, providing more direct connections with Brampton, Milton and Guelph.
Recognizing the growth of the Guelph/Kitchener/ Waterloo/Cambridge triangle, the province believes this new highway and the linkages it creates are needed for commuter and shipping needs.
Vaughan remains largely dependent on a single piece of infrastructure, its highways. And traffic congestion is growing worse each year.
With the amount of single and semi-detached housing approved and waiting to be built north of the city, Vaughan commuters will most certainly face herculean commuting challenges in the future.
As previous highway expansion projects have demonstrated, the new planned highway will only exacerbate the city’s congestion problem.
According to a study commissioned by Metrolinx on the economic costs of congestion in the GTHA, in 2006 the annual cost of congestion to commuters was $3.3 billion and the annual cost to the economy was $2.7 billion.
Currently, more than two million automobile trips are made during the peak travel period each morning in the GTHA, with that number forecast to approach three million trips by 2031.
Vaughan is also home to another kind of critical infrastructure: the Greenbelt. This protected ring of green space surrounds the Toronto region, protecting valuable farmland, rivers and other ecologically-sensitive areas from urban development.
The province would like to combine these two types of infrastructures, a highway and the Greenbelt, and create a new highway that will cut through the heart of our natural heritage. This ‘Greenbelt expressway’ would represent another form of sprawl: infrastructure sprawl.
It would result in the slow and incremental erosion of our natural heritage in favour of increased automobile-oriented infrastructure in what the province itself has designated as significant, protected lands.
The only real means of alleviating traffic congestion in the city is through increased investment in public transit. That, coupled with a political culture that not just supports but aggressively champions public transit as the only viable means to reduce traffic congestion.
The future health and prosperity of Vaughan depends on all of us choosing the expansion of public transit infrastructure over highways.
On an economic level, Vaughan’s competitive edge in manufacturing and warehousing is also at stake.
Every year as traffic congestion increases, it takes longer and longer for the workers, goods and materials from those industries to be transported across the city and to other markets.
The organization Environmental Defence launched a new campaign this year challenging elected leaders to come clean on whether or not they intended to protect the Greenbelt in the future.
Sustainable Vaughan, along with Environmental Defence, wants to challenge Vaughan politicians to come clean on issues related to the Greenbelt, new clean energy jobs, clean air and water.
Learn about one of the most valued and cherished parts of the province, the Greenbelt, our collective natural heritage.
Come celebrate the Greenbelt by coming to the Woodbridge Village Farmers Market Thursday, June 23 from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. where you can learn about the Greenbelt expressway and ask local politicians to come clean