Letter from Concord West to Hon. John Wilkinson, MOE

Honorable J. Wilkinson
Minister of the Environment
77 Wellesley Street West
11th Floor, Ferguson Block
Toronto, Ontario, M7A 2T5

March 9, 2011

Honorable Minister J. Wilkinson,

Thank you for your response to the Objection that the below-signed filed with you regarding the proposed 407 Transitway EPR.  We note that you only responded to one of us.

We and our community, and many, many of the residents of neighbouring communities, are very disappointed with your decision. We understand that your decision is final, but we cannot help but want to comment on a decision that, with all the respect due to your position, is poorly informed and in error.  In fact, you have only sought to be informed by the proponent.

The proponent advised you that the area in question has not been designated with a special ecological label. Et pour cause! For you know as well as we do that under Reg. 231/08, no real environmental assessment has been conducted! Yet, you were satisfied with the proponent’s claim, and specifically mention that no species at risk or their habitats were identified through field investigations…What field investigations, Sir? Can you quote one? For there are none referenced in the EPR and you know it, or should know it. Moreover, delaying such determinations until the detailed design phase is simply a bad and costly decision. Will it be then that planners will be forced to consider the Alternative Plan proposed by our community, which would entirely avoid destroying this area? Not once do you address our proposed Alternative Plan.

You mention that the TRCA has no outstanding concerns regarding this project. In fact, in our Objection we made it clear that many of their concerns were not addressed by the EPR. You certainly do not address the TRCA July 7, 2010, letter which states that the area of concern falls within their masterplan for acquisition of land needed to protect the Upper Don.  Moreover, you neglect what, in complete contradiction with your statement, the TRCA unequivocally stated (EPR, Appendix A, p. 178, point 7) on November 18, 2010, with respect to the “GO Barrie-Concord Station”: “the station is proposed on lands currently designated as part of the natural heritage system within the Don Watershed Plan and the TRCA’s regulated Area”.

Lastly, you also rely on the proponent’s advice that the proposed location has the least negative impact on traffic and the environment; and you do not address in any manner its negative impact on the integrity and the fabric of our residential community. In fact, Minister, you do not address a single one of the details buttressing our objection – be it the impact upon wildlife or the Upper Don, the objections of the TRCA that were neglected, the Alternative Plan that was ignored or, even more incomprehensibly, the negative impact on our community.

Further, you might have taken notice of the request made by Vaughan Councillors Racco and Schulte to extend the time you would take to make up your mind, given the fact that the EPR was released just before a 3 week period of holidays and that, on February 15th, the City of Vaughan passed a resolution asking you to reconsider the EPR, and asking the MTO to reconsider our Alternative Plan. No, none of this mattered.

What shines through this bureaucratic exercise in futility and false democracy is simply that destroying wildlife and human communities in the name of an abstract and false progress is alright, as long as one claims that one is “mitigating” the effects of the destruction, whatever that means. Whatever.

Sincerely,

Dr. Paulo Correa
Chair Concord West Residents Ad Hoc Committee

Josephine Mastrodicasa
President, Concord West Seniors Club

Maria Bacchin
President, Concord West Ratepayers Association

CC: R. Minnes, Project Manager
D. McGuinty, Premier of Ontario
P. Shurman, M.P.P. Thornhill
M. Bevilacqua, Mayor of the City of Vaughan
G. Rosati, Regional Councillor, City of Vaughan
M. Di Biase, Regional Councillor, City of Vaughan
D. Schulte, Regional Councillor, City of Vaughan
S. Racco, Local Councillor, City of Vaughan
B. Denney, CAO, TRCA
P. Kent, Federal Minister of the Environment

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