Open Questions

Question About Mid-Pen Highway Meeting

By Larry Pattison
Published October 29, 2012

Editor's Note: we are trying out a new idea - RTH readers can pose open questions to the community on specific civic issues. We hope the resulting discussion can help to answer the question and perhaps inspire a follow-up article summarizing the findings.

Dear RTH Community,

Can someone please point me to follow up articles, video, comments from those in attendance at Mainway Recreation Centre in Burlington on Tuesday night (October 23, 2012), for the public meeting to discuss the Ministry of Transportation's findings from their studies as they relate to the mid-peninsula highway?

I cannot seem to find an update anywhere.

Larry Pattison is a local blogger, life-long resident of Hamilton, and father to two amazing girls. Larry is also an elected member of the HWDSB Board of Trustees for Ward 3.


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By Nooz Googler (anonymous) | Posted October 29, 2012 at 12:18:54

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By Nooz Googler (anonymous) | Posted October 29, 2012 at 12:50:07

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted October 29, 2012 at 15:59:15

I really hope this project gets abandoned and forgotten. If we build another highway, we are just spending an exorbitant amount of public funds to push our current transportation woes back a few decades. In my opinion it would be much more effective to spend that money on expanding regional transit options so that public transit is more attractive than driving - that would do more to alleviate congestion than expanding our roads ever could.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted October 30, 2012 at 11:23:14

Thanks for all the 'light' reading Nooz. Sometimes the Google terms just don't come to you and also, if I had waited a day or two for the news to come out that might have helped too. Getting used to live feeds available on almost immediately for those that miss a meeting.

I now understand how the Halton Regional Council works. 21-0 council opposition of this project. Shouldn't that be enough?

There is actually a TV Cogeco show dedicated to this project. NGTA Highway vs. The Escarpment. Click the link to see the full schedule on the right hand side. Next show is this Wednesday at 1pm.

Comment edited by lawrence on 2012-10-30 11:26:53

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted October 30, 2012 at 11:59:17

With all the transport trucks on the road, are we maximizing the ability to transport trailer loads via rail lines like we see travelling to Milton? Once upon a time you could travel all over southern Ontario via a train. My grandfather used to hop on trains to anywhere and everywhere to deliver flowers his sisters would arrange and he would canvas the countryside as a young man who had to quit school to help support the family.

They are removing entire lines all over the place including long runs from Lanark to Pembroke. Why? Instead of removing lines, are we thinking of how we can maximize their usage including trailer and commuter transport.

I understand we need solutions so let's give the powers to be as many solutions of our own as possible.

A couple of snapshots of trailers via rail (loading and transporting) (Take a minute to read the blog post related to this picture.)

Comment edited by lawrence on 2012-10-30 12:26:14

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By arienc (registered) | Posted October 30, 2012 at 13:07:18 in reply to Comment 82422

Rails are privately owned. Roads are for the most part publicly owned. As a result, there is a preference for those in the business of transporting goods to use roads. A free ride on the public purse is hard to compete with.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 31, 2012 at 10:26:57 in reply to Comment 82425

This is the main problem. Trucks travel on (and destroy) the roads that we all pay for. Yet we refuse to pay for rail upkeep let alone building lines from public funds. In my opinion rail is a fundamental public good that should have precedence over all other modes as far as public funding goes.

What's funny about opposing public funding on rail is that the alternative (public funding of roads) is effectively funnelling public money into the hands of private transportation companies.

Comment edited by seancb on 2012-10-31 10:27:24

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted October 31, 2012 at 10:35:50 in reply to Comment 82464

Agreed. Not sure if this already happens, but when we fix Burlington Street and Ottawa Street and Kenilworth and the likes, trucking companies and local business who rely on heavy transport to import/export goods, should be paying for a high percentage of those repairs.

Burlington Street is the worst street in Ontario I believe it was hailed finally, but it should have been fixed a long time ago at the businesses prime expense. I asked the question before and I think I'll ask it as a separate question to the community again when I have a moment, have we ever considered removing all the overpasses along Burlington Street to improve the appearance for visitors coming into the east end community from Niagara? They are a mess and in need of repair but why keep them? To separate trucks and cars? That doesn't seem to be relevant. The odd train going back and forth? Overpasses directly over top of ground-level roads create dungeoness atmospheres. One would think if we tore them down we'd be left with 2 or 3 lanes on each side all the way through and many of those businesses do a great job keeping up their street-facing properties.

We should be looking at Industrial areas in Burlington such as down by where I work on Harvester Rd, as an example of industrial property standards. Then we question why does Dofasco have an ugly fence around the Burlington Street parking lot but not the one off Ottawa Street at their head office? Fences aren't attractive and it isn't long before they start leaning and rusting. Burlington Street should be a vibrant, tree-lined, flour adorned, welcome mat to Gage Park, Ottawa Street, Ivor WYnne, and a way to get downtown in a steady manner from Niagara.

We need to clean up our existing roads but we can't keep up yet we are looking to build more?

Comment edited by lawrence on 2012-10-31 10:40:26

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 31, 2012 at 12:00:11 in reply to Comment 82466

Yep. What if we took all of this wasted aerotropolis energy and turned it into making these stretches of burlington street into industrial plazas - something functional and (relatively) attractive?

But we can't because the city has declared all of that land "unavailable".

According to the city, we have no available industrial land in Hamilton. I wonder if any of them - staff and council alike - have ever been to the east end of hamilton?

I guess they don't have to since it is a short, straight line from the 403 to city hall. A perfect link from their offices to their homes in brantford where they don't have to think about "that end" of the city.

Comment edited by seancb on 2012-10-31 12:00:37

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted October 30, 2012 at 14:28:57

Makes sense, but why not get into publicly owned rail? What is the cost of building, maintaining the rail system, rail cars, and outfits such as the one image I linked to above, to load and unload the trailers onto the rail beds, compared to building highways, maintaining them, widening them, widening them, repairing them, traffic jams, light bright signs to tell us roads are jammed like they are every morning that are often not up-to-date. What more importantly, are the unknown long-term costs of jeopardizing the land, farms, nature, etc. that is required to build these roads?

If using rail to transport trailers is expensive, maybe there needs to be more competition.

What about building up such a network that provides multiple options to transport via rail, and then creating a law to get trucks off the roads? What about tolls on all highways for just trucks?

I'm picking on trucking above but I'd rather actually see as I have hammered on about before, more local jobs and getting 1 and 2 passenger vehicles off the roads. The recent summit to encourage business to invest west, in Toronto this past week is a good place to start.

Perhaps sell our own Tourism in such a way as well, that reminds locals how many entertainment and recreation options are right here in our hometown. Like listening to Y108 plug the Mauraders playoff game this Saturday at 4:30pm at Ron Joyce Stadium. Not that this city isn't alive with promotion of local already but we just can't say 'no I don't want a highway'. We need solutions for the reasoning behind wanting to build these roadways and one might be to get people to stay 'home'.

Or why can't I set up an office in my child's school so I can also volunteer there. Takes a load of the education system, get's me off the major roadways, taking away travel time and allowing more time to be involved in my community.

Whether this is make-work, job creation, a way to help tourism, or to help our neighbors like Welland hit hard with the loss of manufacturing jobs who require better ways to get their citizens to jobs whether it's a increased road capacity to connect to the QEW (or Hamilton and area via a road system), or more importantly the GO extending to Niagara.

Whatever all the reasons are, we need to hit them with alternatives and if they say privately owned, question why there aren't publicly owned options. Not saying others haven't already done this but if 21-0 opposition of Halton Council isn't enough, let's help them sell against it. Then hopefully they will in turn help, us sell against the portion that will cut across the upper crust of Hamilton.

Another question: Why wasn't Hamilton council represented at that meeting? It's planned to cut through Flamborough.

Comment edited by lawrence on 2012-10-30 14:33:41

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted October 30, 2012 at 14:40:46 in reply to Comment 82427

Ontario recently announced plans to divest itself of Ontario Northland. The province's rail expansions have been slow and fitful, and geared to passengers rather than freight.

CN recently sold 40km of track to Metrolinx for $310 million, which perhaps says something about the economics of rail. Or perhaps not so much.

One unknown in the whole highway-to-rail idea is how it would alter the need to move large volumes of goods between employment and population nodes. It seems to me that the same arguments that could be used to rationalize a highway through the Escarpment could be used to rationalize rail lines through the Escarpment.

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted October 31, 2012 at 12:10:18 in reply to Comment 82428

Canadian National Railway beat analyst expectations on adjusted earnings by a penny in the third quarter on revenue of $2.5 billion.

The railway reported after markets closed Monday that it earned $664 million, or $1.52 per diluted and adjusted share, for the period ended Sept. 30. That compared to $1.46 per diluted share, or $659 million, a year earlier on revenue of $2.3 billion.

Adjusting for one-time changes, CN's profits increased about 10 per cent from $1.38 per share in the prior year, excluding a gain from the sale of substantially all of the assets of IC RailMarine Terminal Company.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected adjusted earnings of $1.51 per share.

Revenues increased by eight per cent from $2.31 billion in the third quarter of 2011. Revenue ton-miles rose seven per cent and carloadings increased three per cent.

Total carloads grew by 2.9 per cent during the quarter, led by strong growth by intermodal, chemicals and agricultural products, offset by decreased for coal, ores, metals and minerals.

CN's operating ratio increased by 1.3 points to 60.6 per cent.

Chief executive Claude Mongeau said the railway's focus on operational and service excellence helped it to post a "solid third-quarter performance" with revenue growing in all business segments.

"Petroleum and chemicals led the way with a 15 per cent increase in revenues, largely as a result of higher shipments of crude oil originating in Western Canada. CN's crude oil volume in the quarter rose to a run rate of 40,000 carloads on an annualized basis," he said in a statement.

I'd happily give up the West Harbour shunting yards and the rail trails if it meant sparing us an unwanted highway.

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted October 31, 2012 at 12:20:05 in reply to Comment 82477

Canadian Pacific metrics for the week ending Friday, October 19, 2012:

Weekly carloads 52,691
Active cars online 42,814
Average train speed 23.4 mph
Average terminal dwell 18.7 hrs

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted October 31, 2012 at 13:29:34 in reply to Comment 82478

Avg speed 23.4mph. another plus for the train side.

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted October 31, 2012 at 12:36:50 in reply to Comment 82478

At an average speed of 38km/h, Canadian Pacific metrics are competitive with sections of the Hwy 401 and Hwy 410 (circa 2008).

Metrolinx's investments might move the bar slightly.

"Hundreds of lane-kilometres will be added to the region’s expressway network with the completion of the Highway 407 East extension to Highway 35/115 and the extensions of Highways 404, 427 and 410, as identified in the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

Improvements to existing 400 series highways are also part of the RTP. For example, they include widening Highway 401 from Highway 410 to Hurontario Street, including HOV lanes, and new HOV lanes on Highway 400 between Major Mackenzie Drive and King Road, on Highway 427 from Highway 409 to Highway 407, and on the QEW between Trafalgar Road and Guelph Line."

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 31, 2012 at 10:31:02 in reply to Comment 82428

Put rail lines through the escarpment. I'd love to see that. Here's what you get with rail: efficient transportation of goods (the main argument for the need for the mid pen)

Here's what you don't get: sprawl development along the entire corridor lining the pockets of homebuilders who had the "inside track" and purchased land along the route 20 years before the public ever had a chance to comment on the plan.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted October 31, 2012 at 10:48:59 in reply to Comment 82465

We all know that that is the underlying driving factor so paving companies, get into rail building. Diversify your business offerings. I detest that home builders can buy mass properties at will and build whatever they want. Like a townhome complex on Beach Blvd. One isn't actually bad but the other. Cities are built around developers and the highways that their pressure builds. It's time to plan OUR cities ourselves. Time to tell them what WE want.

We lost Red Hill so that we were better prepared for the big fight. We see so many signs now that the dust has settled, as to why that was and still is, a bad idea. A short-sided need has been a nightmare for residents and travel.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted October 31, 2012 at 10:18:09 in reply to Comment 82428

I have to admit I had never heard of Ontario Northland. Seems unfortunate. Great that we now are landlords instead of tenants on 65% of the network GO runs on regarding the Metrolinx/CN deal.

A few lanes of rail used for commercial only I would think would have far less environmental impact and not encourage the sprawl that is feared would come with the build such as has happened in sections of the 407. Less disruptions on wildlife, much less vehicles emitting pollutants both on what would have been on a new highway, and from what has moved from a moving vehicle on the QEW to the new rail lines.

Now from the NGTA site it seems on the surface that all options of transport are being considered but of course the only buzz words I hear are highway, highway, highway. And GO of course which will surely help a great deal getting it running all the way to Niagara but it doesn't solve the high need to leave our cities for work or the number of trucks on the road and trucks, buses, etc. don't seem to have any e-testing standards assigned to them so one would think a heavy focus on this type of solution and alternate transportation options would be an even higher priority.

I'd like us to be less dependent on air transport of goods rather than building an aerotropolis to encourage more of it. I bought an XO1.5 One Laptop Per Child for the kids for Christmas because it looked like a very durable, education minded, spill and dust and drop proof option to get them their own computer. But it cost $40 for shipping (+ who know what for customs), it's coming all the way from Colorado, they don't sell them in retail stores, but we could probably buy a bunch for a cause and save my little 5lb package travelling all that way by it's lonesome and then you or the next person all ordering one item each day and all these shipments coming separately.

EBay is great for these kinds of specialty items, but I'd love to see a local startup that looks to reduce shipping costs for consumers and more importantly, better organize our online purchasing to reduce the carbon footprint that the EBay's and other online retailers encourage.

Comment edited by lawrence on 2012-10-31 10:29:53

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted October 31, 2012 at 10:51:44

Stop trashing the planet

Dundas in Transition, a nonprofit group focusing on the issues of climate change hosts a free movie night, Friday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m. in the St. James Anglican Church Hall, 171 Melville St., Dundas. Two short films, The Story of Stuff and The Story of Change will be followed by a presentation and discussion of local examples of positive change. Visit Dundas in Transition

Seemed quite relevant. Wish I could attend.

Comment edited by lawrence on 2012-10-31 10:52:12

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 31, 2012 at 12:02:12

Speaking of Dundas, are they done REPAVING the cootes drive highway yet? Ugh.

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