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Will this be the death of Oakville’s last scenic roadway? Lakeshore Rd. West Construction planned

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UPDATE: April 12, 2021

The Town has posted details on their website, for the proposed road construction and tree removal on Lakeshore Road West.

 

Please read the excellent summary of the project, and key concerns on the Coronation Park Residents Association website: http://www.coronationparkresidents.com/Current%20Issues/

 

In the latest proposal, 96 trees are slated to be removed.

The “preferred plan” will be going to Council in June.

https://www.oakville.ca/residents/lakeshore-road-west-improvements-class-ea.html

**Online comments will be accepted until April 20th.** but please continue to provide your feedback.

 In addition please:

  • Register your comments with Townclerk@oakville.ca

  • Call your Councillor or better yet, send them an email with your comments. membersofcouncil@oakville.ca

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Will this be the Death of Oakville’s last scenic roadway?

One of the joys of living in Oakville is being able to take in the beauty of the lake, wander through our historic downtown strip, and experience the arching canopy of mature trees lining Lakeshore Road, as part of a daily leisurely outing. But the scenic route along the lake is under threat unless residents speak up.

The Town of Oakville is planning road construction along Lakeshore Road West between Dorval and Mississaga St. in Bronte..  After strong public outcry to an earlier plan in 2019, Town staff has been working on revisions.   But to this writer, it looks like they have once again missed the mark.  An updated plan from the Town presented March 16th is short on specifics and still calls for removal of 116 mature trees, 70 of which are over 20 cm in diameter.

Whether you live along the Lakeshore or not, we want to make sure that you hear about the latest plan so that you can provide feedback to your councillor and the Mayor.  The Town’s proposal is not 100% clear yet, but what we’ve seen doesn’t look good.

The first version of a Lakeshore Road plan was presented at a public meeting in May 2018.  Despite being labelled Lakeshore West “Improvement” Study, local residents were alarmed at the dramatic changes planned for the historic Kings Highway route through Oakville.

Public outcry was loud and swift, to the planned removal of hundreds of trees, widening of the road to “modern standards” and multiple expropriations of private property. After that response, the Town went back to the drawing board. Later, in 2019, a seemingly positive outcome, was the Town’s agreement to do a Scenic Corridor Study, that Oakvillegreen hoped would provide a much more sensitive approach to the planned construction.

At an online public stakeholder meeting on March 16, 2021, a revised Lakeshore Road plan was presented via webinar by Town’s Engineering staff and consultants.

What was missing were any actual plans for review by stakeholders before the webinar.  Two weeks after that meeting, no detailed plans have been shared.  The Scenic Corridor Study report that we felt held promise, seems to have left little impression.

During the recent summary update, it was reported that less property would be expropriated, but with no plans to review, this was tough to verify. However, only when asked directly, was it revealed that 110 trees would still be cut down for the construction being recommended.  Trees are the number one asset identified in critical features of a Scenic Corridor, but questions remain: Where are these doomed trees located? How many of these are heritage, mature trees? Tree protection is paramount for a healthy urban forest. No number of “replacement trees” of questionable heritage is really going to replace the historic giants.  Your grandchildren, or great grandchildren may one day see replacement trees at maturity, but once the existing trees are cut down, they are gone for our lifetimes.

Drivers, cyclists and pedestrians are all users of Lakeshore Road. Admittedly, safe active transportation options for those walking and cycling needs to be addressed. On the Town’s list were sidewalks on each side of the road PLUS a multi-use pathway along the route.  But to include ALL of these features without weighing the impact to mature trees misses the reason that we walk and cycle along Lakeshore in the first place.

The Town is planning for a “full urbanization” of the roadway, which includes curbs and gutters and the accompanying stormwater grey infrastructure, that will require invasive construction, more impermeable surfaces and resulting grade changes.   Ironically, much research is singing the advantages of natural assets or “green vs, grey” infrastructure that is more effective and cheaper to maintain, while performing the same stormwater management functions.

With numerous other east-west options for car travel  (Speers, Rebecca and soon the Wyecroft  bridge ) why is it necessary to strip Lakeshore road of its trees and character in the name of “improvement”?  Removal of these trees and the full urbanization of infrastructure will increase speeds along this road, due to the stripping of documented calming features. Induced demand; Build it and they will come…even if you don’t want them to!

Do we really want the historic Lakeshore Road to look like another urban thoroughfare? As an identified historic Scenic Corridor along the shores of Lake Ontario, one would think that the Town could have landed on a more sensitive plan to preserve historic character and trees of this meandering, beautiful road.

The current plan, that stakeholders still have not seen, will be going to Council in just 6 weeks (May 2021). Oakvillegreen just learned that the Town will be seeking “public feedback” online for one week only in early April.  We are not even sure of the format for the feedback. Clearly, the Town’s engineering department wants to get this done and started, but we are questioning why the rush? After the Town took two years re-drawing a plan, the community needs more than a week to understand the plan and provide feedback.

It feels like the Town is managing the public feedback process to limit the input via a short time frame and online process. Full disclosure and a sincere response to public feedback all through a climate crisis lens, is all we are asking.

Please share this news with Friends & Family and call your Councillor.

Karen Brock

President, Oakvillegreen

We are hiring! Canada Summer Job Positions

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(Hiring will be contingent on receipt of CSJ funding)

 

Oakvillegreen Conservation Association is a not-for-profit environmental organization with a vision to make Oakville a living city with enhanced natural diversity, stronger connections between natural areas, and healthier green spaces. We have been working since 2000 to reconnect people to the natural environment in their community through education, advocacy and opportunities for hands-on action. 

We are looking for two passionate individuals to join our team!

 

Environmental Program Coordinator

Enjoy an experiential learning environment working as a member of Oakvillegreen’s programming team, reporting to the Program Director. The ideal candidate will possess superior interpersonal skills, event management experience and will have a passion for helping to engage the community in environmental projects. 

Gain some hands-on community greening and environmental outreach experience and help our programs grow.

Learn more details about this position, requirements, eligibility and how to apply CSJ Env Prog Coor.

 

Communications Specialist

Gain some hands-on experience developing communication campaigns, creating promotional materials and digital content to support Oakvillegreen’s community activities and promote our mission. 

Learn more details about this position, requirements, eligibility and how to apply CSJ Comm Spc

Please send a cover letter and resume in a Word or PDF format, to melanie.rose@oakvillegreen.org by 5pm, April 23rd, 2021, with reference to the position title in the email subject line. No phone calls please. Those who are selected for an interview will be contacted.

 

Oakvillegreen and its supporters adamantly oppose the proposed Highway 413.

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Oakvillegreen Conservation Association (Oakvillegreen) and its supporters adamantly oppose the proposed Highway 413 (or GTA West Highway)

Numerous environmental organizations and coalitions are uniting to oppose this unnecessary, destructive highway.

 

“The proposed route for Highway 413 would angle northeast through Halton and Caledon to Highway 400, paving over thousands of acres of prime farmland and “protected” Greenbelt. It has been firmly rejected as unnecessary and environmentally destructive by Halton Hills Council, Halton Regional Council, Toronto City Council and Vaughan and Mississauga Councils.” ~ GASP (Grandmothers and Others Acting to Save the Planet)

 

“Ontario is planning to build the GTA West Highway, a redundant and unnecessary highway that would pave over farms, forests and watersheds, cutting a destructive path through Milton, Georgetown, Caledon, Brampton and Vaughan. It will cost taxpayers billions. And it’s only 15 kilometres away from Highway 407, an existing underused east-west toll highway. In a time when Municipalities are declaring climate emergencies across Ontario, building this highway, which will increase the number of vehicles on the road, goes against efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and causes significant loss of agricultural lands and impacts to the natural environment.”  ~Environmental Defence environmentaldefence.ca

 

Oakvillegreen is an environmental organization which actively engages residents in issues within Oakville, the region, the Greater Toronto Area and the Province.  We value protection of forests, meadows, wetlands and waterways to preserve connected, healthy, natural ecosystems that are inhabited by Carolinian flora and fauna.

 

We actively involve residents of all ages, in appreciation of our area’s natural assets. Annually, hundreds participate in treeplanting and habitat restoration projects that we co-ordinate with our municipality and Conservation Halton. We work alongside countless community partners to act to protect and restore biodiversity. 

 

We adamantly oppose the proposal by Ontario’s current government to build a destructive mega highway through the Greenbelt for the following reasons:

  • The environmental loss to forests, farmland, waterways and delicate ecosystems is immeasurable. The proposed route will go through dozens of major waterways and riparian habitat, notably the Credit and Humber Rivers, which flow to Lake Ontario, the source of drinking water to millions. Excessive use of road salt is damaging to aquatic life and will be another blow to struggling populations.

  • The Province has said that they will protect the Greenbelt. This highway plan would NOT protect the Greenbelt and would sever and damage the connectivity of the Greenbelt, valued for its contributions ecologically and economically.

  • The multi-billion dollar cost to taxpayers will be exorbitant. It has been shown that building this mega highway, will only save commuters seconds in their commute. Much has been written about induced demand and the fact that building highways, an out-dated plan from the last century, will only encourage more cars, and will NOT reduce gridlock.

  • Please ensure that Ontario is using current best practices for moving “people & goods”. Successful models of sustainable, environmentally-friendly options exist in numerous other cities and countries. Learn from them.

  • We expect that the Province and other levels of government should collaborate to provide more efficient public transit that will get people moving, and allow for more efficient transportation of goods.  We absolutely MUST reframe how we get around our communities, and ensure a less car-centric model.

  • Ontario’s population will be growing, but we must STOP the narrative that “we need more highways because there will be more people.” If anything, understanding that our population will grow, is an incentive to get people moving in a much more efficient and equitable way.

  • Many municipalities have declared a Climate Emergency, and are acknowledging the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis that are dramatically impacting our health and day to day lives. Building yet another mega highway, is contrary to this commitment.  Transportation contributes the largest percentage of carbon pollution to our air-sheds. We must demonstrate this commitment by getting out of our cars in order to stop the accumulation of damaging CO2. Even with increased availability of electric vehicles, we still must plan for reliable public transit, to ensure social equity, so that not only “rich people” can commute to jobs.

  • Ploughing a highway through prime farmland, will create greater food insecurity. Covid has shown that our large and growing population relies on LOCALLY grown food. Don’t pave over the most productive farmland in Ontario. Farmers feed us.

  • Another swath of highway will create yet another “great divide.”  Death by a thousand cuts. It promotes more urban sprawl, which we have seen simply doesn’t create sustainable, complete communities.  “As people travel farther to get from home to work and other destinations, they pollute more. It’s exactly the opposite of what is needed to develop walkable, transit-friendly communities. But when people live closer to where they work, they pollute much less, or not at all if they can walk or cycle.” ~Environmental Defence 

  • We expect our Provincial government to act in the best interests of its constituents and listen to public input. Many Provincial transactions lately, have been lacking in transparency. Changes in provincial laws are being constantly fabricated to exclude public and scientific comment or appeal and appear to favour wealthy corporations at the expense of the environment. We must ask ourselves, who stands to benefit the most by pushing through this highway?

  • We can have a healthy economy AND healthy environment. One does not exclude the other.

In the spirit of protecting clean water, farmland, biodiversity, a safe climate and healthy communities, our organization and its supporters want to STOP the GTA West Highway.

 

On behalf of the Oakvillegreen Board of Directors

Karen Brock

President, Oakvillegreen