"Smart growth" plan for new highways is a dumb idea, critics charge

by Canadian Shipper

The “Smart-Growth” plans to build new roads and highways in Ontario will only encourage urban sprawl and encourage car use, say critics of the plan.

“This runs counter to what Smart Growth is all about,” says Michael Roschlau, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Urban Transit Association. Roschlau is critical of the plan because it ignores mass transit.

“Indeed, the continued emphasis on highways in the province’s new strategy is inconsistent with the basic principles of smart growth and sustainable development,” he explains.

Premier Mike Harris and Transportation Minister Brad Clark announced the plan, which includes the possible building of several new highways, in early March.

“If Ontario is to provide more effective and efficient transportation services, minimize transportation-related pollution and improve our quality of life, as the government claims, then it needs to embrace the true principles of smart growth,” says Beatrice Schmied, executive director of the Ontario Community Transportation Association.

“The true definition of Smart Growth means providing choices in mobility and not promoting auto-dependent lifestyles. Smart Growth means investing heavily in public transit expansion as the backbone to a sustainable development strategy,” says Roschlau.

“Smart Growth requires investing in alternatives to low-density, single-use development to make growth more efficient. It focuses on efficient use of land resources, infrastructure and public services, cost-effective development standards, greater use of public transit, and the partnerships of community transportation services,” adds Schmied.

“Expanding the 400-series highways and promoting more car capacity on roads is contrary to sustainable development and quality of life,” concludes Roschlau.

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