Minister promises word soon on planned GTA West Corridor

December 14, 2016   ·   0 Comments

News on the GTA West Corridor and the proposed highway running along it is coming, and soon. It’s just not known exactly when.

That word come straight from Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca, who addressed a gathering of the Dufferin-Caledon Provincial Liberal Association Tuesday.

“I don’t have any update at this point of time,” the Minister was quick to state when the issue was mentioned to him.

He pointed out that the Transportation Ministry (MTO) paused an environmental assessment (EA) on the corridor a year ago in order to seek more input and advice. That work is continuing, he said.

“I expect to have an update from them in the relatively near future,” he said, adding he had no further time frame to offer

“I understand the concern and impatience,” he added, pointing out residents, affected municipalities and other stakeholders are anxious to know what’s coming.

Mr. Del Duca was able to provide some more definite information regards the planned extension of Highway 427.

It’s coming he said, with construction starting early in 2017. He also pointed out preliminary widening work has already started on the stretch of road south of Steeles Avenue, and the completion is set for 2020 or ’21.

“It’s a big project,” he acknowledged, adding there’s “a great deal of interest and anticipation for that.”

The Vaughan MPP said he’s lived in the area some 30 years, so he’s well aware of how people are looking forward to the extension, which has been talked about for many years. The road is slated to be extended to Major Mackenzie Drive, and Mr. Del Duca pointed out it’s taken a lot of work, effort and resources to get to this stage. There has been talk that the road should be extended farther, like to Highway 9. Mr. Del Duca confirmed he’s aware of that talk, adding he understands why people keep asking about it. But he had no further commitments to offer.

“We’re focused on the extension to Major Mac at this time,” he stated.

Looking further north in the riding, the Minister talked of some of the issues regarding Highway 10 north of Orangeville, including the fact the road is down to two lanes on the stretch approaching Highway 89, with four lanes further to the south and no left-turn lanes.

Mr. Del Duca said his ministry has been in contact with municipal leaders on the matter, adding MTO has strong reason for working closely with its municipal partners, and gathering input from them.

There were about 20 of the party faithful on hand to greet Mr. Del Duca, and he used the occasion for a pep talk to get the local organization ready for the upcoming election, anticipated for 2018. He pointed to the importance of making sure ridings like Dufferin-Caledon are strengthened in time for the campaign.

“I will be right there with you,” he declared, stressing the need to enhance the Liberal presence in the riding.

He also said he enjoys the opportunities to get out and talk to party members and voters in more informal settings.

“I love getting away from Queen’s Park,” he said, adding it gives him a chance to get a feel for what’s really happening, unlike at the legislature, where “we’re always taking to the same people.”

“There’s such enormous growth happening in all our communities,” the Minister stated, adding that brings a share of challenges.

He pointed out that prior to 2003, there had been under-investment in critical infrastructure in Ontario. That obligated the new Liberal government to play catch-up, on top of the demands of keeping up with the growth.

Mr. Del Duca added the government of Kathleen Wynne campaigned in 2014 on a plan for infrastructure investment, including $31.5 billion, most of which was to go toward transportation. That’s part of a $160 billion commitment over 12 years on all aspects of infrastructure.

“We have made a very clear commitment to make sure we get these shovels in the ground,” he said, adding people have been clear that they want to see the work proceed.

Mr. Del Duca added the party received a mandate in 2014 to put results ahead of rhetoric, and that’s what the government’s been doing. But the work is not yet complete, and he said they need leaders at all levels to see the need for this infrastructure.

“I believe we’ve made tremendous progress over the last two-and-a-half years,” he commented.

Mr. Del Duca observed that previous governments falling behind on infrastructure investment has created a feeling of disbelief among skeptics.

“I call it a credibility deficit,” he remarked, adding one reason to try and get shovels in the ground is to show these people the government has a plan and is delivering on it. “That’s how we got the buy-in from the people.”

With some 18 months to go until the election, he commented on the need to make sure the political infrastructure is strong. He told the local party members he, his cabinet colleagues, members of the caucus and the whole party are ready to work with them. He added Ms. Wynne is a hard-working, passionate believer in government’s ability to get things done.

“You have all of us on side,” he said.

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