The GTA West Corridor and Milton Council’s Contradiction

Milton ends up 21 of 32 municipalities listed on a recent Municipal Democracy Index

By: Laura Steiner
The GTA West Corridor is the zombie project.  It was conceived in 2003, by the Harris-led Progressive Conservatives.  It was killed in 2018 by the Wynne Liberals, following the recommendation of an expert panel.  The Ontario Progressive Conservatives (PC)’s promised to revive it during the 2018 election.  Their preferred route runs from highway 400, down to the 407 interchange at the border between Peel and Halton. As I’m writing this, it’s advanced into the stage of an environmental assessment at the provincial government level, and has been referred to the federal Environmental Assessment Agency for an assessment as well.
The GTA West is a project that has always aroused controversy and opposition.   The National Observer, and the Toronto Star released an investigative report detailing developers owning land along the route and their ties to the PC government.  Councils along the entire route have voted their opposition to it- King City, Orangeville, Brampton, Mississauga, and Toronto.  Peel and Halton Region are against the project as well.  But Milton??
That’s a little harder to explain.  Milton has five Regional Councilors (one for each of the four wards+ the Mayor).  The Region of Halton dealt with this issue back in March, and unanimously approved a motion to oppose the GTA West Corridor.  That should’ve ended it right there, but it didn’t. At Milton Council’s June 7 meeting, there came a motion from Ward 3 Councilor Rick Di Lorenzo  that if approved, would have affirmed council’s opposition to the project, and support Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson’s decision to designate it for an environmental assessment.
Part of the motion reads: “Be It Resolved that the Town of Milton Council supports the Regional Municipality of Halton’s March 24, 2021 Resolution reaffirming its opposition to the GTA West Corridor.”  The wording asks the Council to support the Region’s stance against the project, and the federal government’s decision as well. It failed in a 5-4 recorded vote. Voting against it were: Regional Councilors: Cluett, Malboeuf, Hamid, and Mayor Krantz were all consistent with the Region’s opinion.  The fifth councilor opposing it was Ward 2 Councilor John Challinor II.  The four councilors that supported it were Regional Councilor Best, Ward Councilors Di Lorenzo, Ali, and Tesser-Derksen
The motion’s failure created a double negative. It’s a failure to affirm support for a negative position. It could be interpreted in some circles to indicate support for the highway.  There is some appetite for the GTA West highway among councilors.  Some made an argument that it could be used to create a live-work-play type of community, that planners have been envisioning for years. The perception creates a problem.  The municipality’s official position on CN Intermodal has been to oppose at all costs. How can Council be in favour of one project in the GTA West highway, which will bring more traffic into Milton, pave over farmland, and have numerous environmental consequences while siding against the CN Intermodal, which is another project with similar consequences plus additional impacts on human health?
The obvious answer is no; unless there’s a plan to relocate the Intermodal to lands adjacent to the GTA West corridor. There’s no evidence of that.  Supporting the highway weakens the case against CN, because the Intermodal uses a highway to ship goods, and the environmental, and health consequences of both are similar. It creates a contradiction that council acknowledges, but will probably do very little about.