In what might be the height of hypocrisy, a group of well-heeled, mostly-downtown Toronto types is calling on the Ford government to scrap Hwy. 413.
Celebrities and other concerned souls have signed a letter in support of the David Suzuki Foundation’s campaign to stop the much-needed highway.
Suzuki, and his foundation, are based in Vancouver, but he isn’t above jet-setting or sticking his nose in where it doesn’t belong. He also likes to own several homes, like some of the well-known signatories to this letter, which is odd because the foundation opposes policies that would encourage residential construction around Toronto.
Toronto is growing, more people move here every year, but people like author Margaret Atwood and singer Chantal Kreviazuk are endorsing a no-growth policy by opposing the highway because they now lead comfortable lives.
“Congestion will not be solved by new highways that incentivize additional traffic. Rather, we need expansion of public transit,” the letter states.
Did Atwood sign that letter from her home on Admiral Rd. in Toronto’s leafy Annex neighbourhood where she’s close to the subway? Or did she sign the letter from her second home, located on an island in Lake Erie?
What about Kreviazuk? Did she sign from her Toronto home or her six-bedroom ranch-style dwelling in Los Angeles? I read about how hard it was not being able to fly between those homes as often during the pandemic.
It doesn’t bother me that people like Atwood or Kreviazuk have multiple homes and that they fly and drive between them.
What does bother me is they have adopted a certain lifestyle, but want to keep everyone else down. Atwood has her beautiful home and a highway to take her to the cottage, and Kreviazuk has the airport to get her between her L.A. and Toronto homes. So now they want development to stop.
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We take in about 400,000 immigrants a year to this country; the Greater Toronto Area attracts the largest share of that group for settlement. There’s also significant migration within Canada that sees people move from other parts of the country come to the GTA every year.
Where are these people going to live, and how will they get around if we don’t allow growth to continue? It’s impossible to add an annual population to this region without adding housing and infrastructure like roads and highways.
While the Suzuki Foundation and their backers say this is about dealing with congestion, it’s not — it’s about growth. Their solution — simply spend more money on public transit — isn’t realistic.
“The $6 billion to $10 billion required to build 413 should be spent on pressing community needs, not an expressway that deepens the climate crisis and paves our Greenbelt,” the letter states.
First off, the provincial government is already spending $3 on public transit for every $1 it dedicates to highways. The Ontario Line subway expansion alone will cost $10.9 billion, while projects in Hamilton, Ottawa and Peel are costing billions more.
There are major investments being made in public transit, but that doesn’t mean we can stop building highways, roads or homes, unless we also stop letting people move here.
If Suzuki, Atwood and Kreviazuk really think we should stop allowing for growth, they should come out and say that immigration must be stopped because that is the only real way to stop our region from increasing in size.
They should also give up their own cushy lives and adopt the lifestyle they want for others: a tiny condo, and riding the bus instead of flying friendly skies.
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