The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) is voicing its support for a planned GTA West highway project that would run through the northwestern area of the Greater Toronto Area, as well as Halton, Peel, and York regions.
The areas are known hubs for trucking and logistics activity. Peel Region itself is home to an estimated 2,000 trucking companies, and in 2012 accounted for about 36% of provincial truck trips, according to government data.
“We must build the GTA West, not just for our present economy but to the secure the future success of our province,” OTA writes in a recent letter on the position.
The highway would include up to four to six lanes from Hwy. 400 in the east to the Hwy. 401/407 interchange in the west.
But the plan has faced increasing opposition from regional municipalities including Toronto, which has backed a call from Environmental Defence for a federal environmental assessment of Hwy. 413. Mississauga, Vaughan, Halton Hills, Halton Region, and Orangeville are opposing the highway, while Brampton, Caledon and Peel Region are calling for a federal environmental assessment.
“The GTA West will be vital in securing a future for Ontarians,” says OTA chairman Wendell Erb. “Some will say we can’t afford to spend this type of investment on highways. This is very short-sighted. Afterall, where would we be as a nation with that kind of thinking? We would have no TransCanada Highway, no national railway system or St. Lawrence Seaway.
“As modern-day Ontarians, we should learn from previous generations that invested and built the key infrastructure for the sustainable growth and prosperity of future generations.”
The provincial government revived the highway plans that had been shelved by a previous Liberal administration. The City of Brampton has argued that a stretch of the corridor should come in the form of a 104-meter-wide boulevard with room for pedestrians and a truck-only lane.
The 2012 GTA West Corridor Transportation Development Strategy Report says the new highway could generate $1 billion in GDP as early as 2031, while also improving commercial vehicle travel times during peak periods.
The number of truck delays on inter-regional facilities would be cut in half, and reduce the truck traffic using local roads by about 25%, it concludes.