Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Choose Change? Choose the Same.

First it was Mike Harris' 'Smart Growth', now it's McGuinty's 'A Place to Grow'. The Liberal's began peddling their discussion paper today of how the GTA is to grow and evolve over the next 30 or so years as an immeadiate reaction to the consequences of urban sprawl. 'A Place to Grow' outlines the framework of how the Province plans to deal with gridlock, residential and industrial development, transit and water and sewer servicing on a GTA-wide basis.

While Smart Growth and this new incarnation may have different names, the outcome is doomed to be the same. First off - as usual - McGuinty looks like to have cut and pasted from the previous Conservative initiative and slapped his own tag on it. Subsequently, both advocate status-quo land development practices and unconstrained growth. Enough with the buzzwords already - with words like 'leadership', 'partnership' and 'effective' sprinkled throughout this yawn, anyone who follows this scene knows that bullshit remains bullshit - even when it wears a smile.

My question is... like Nutrient Management (which instituted control of factory farms after Municipalities started to limit their size), is this yet another attempt by the Province to take back a controversial municipal responsibility under the guise of regional planning? Despite the protests of the resident curmudgeon, has the election of several anti-development councils throughout the GTA meant that McGuinty and Finance Minister Sorbara need to conspire to ensure that the Bramptons and Vaughans of Sorbara's creation continue to perpetuate themselves? Land development and housing starts are driving the economy after all - and in this era of 'budget cuts' and 'fiscal restraint' nobody wants to screw with the economy.

So how do you accommodate both environmental groups and developers? You claim to have the solution to all problems through the release of a fuzzy, sugar-coated document which states yet again what's been said for the past 10 years and provides absolutely no new policy guidance - yet has lots of pretty pictures and useless graphs. Looks great, now how is gridlock going to be reduced? Where's the cash to implement the transit program etc. etc. It also states that all land that is designated today (which can accomodate all development for the next 15 years) is essentially exempt from the proposed policies. 15 more years of Mississauga-style sprawl Dalton before we can even begin to implement your timid tripe? Good Work - Guelph... meet Milton.

Does anyone remember that much vaunted Golden Horseshoe greenbelt promise that was thrown about during the election? It seems to have been modified somewhat. Perhaps someone should remind the Premier's Office.

Best of all is the continued commitment to the Red Hill Expressway up the Hamilton Mountain which will effectively open up tens of thousands of current prime agricultural acres to sprawl development on top of the escarpment. This proposed expressway would stretch all the way from Hamilton to Fort Erie and has assumed increased importance as an 'economic corridor' in the new Plan. It is designed to parallel the QEW and would effectively eliminate the only barrier which has stopped sprawl in Haldimand County and the west part of Niagara Region - the escarpment. Now that's 'Smart Growth'... er... 'A Place to Grow'... whatever.

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