By Mike Williscraft
Grimsby council and residents opposed to the Livingston Extension had better start boning up on how to file a Part 2 Order.
That seemed to be the word from Monday night’s Public Information Centre hosted by Niagara Region at the Casablanca Inn.
While dozens of questions were posed throughout the session, which rain nearly three hours, the key and repeated questions were “why?” and “who decides?”.
Consultant Paul Bumstead explained to the ballroom filled with about 120 people that projected growth plans in the area will require an additional east/west access by 2031 due to expected congestion along the South Service Road between Hunter and Casablanca Boulevard.
Jack Thompson of Niagara Region’s public works department said the extension is budgeted to cost about $10 million and it would take 8-10 years to complete from the start of the process.
Attendees were grouped in tables at the event, with consultants addressing questions to experts related to the material.
When traffic patterns were honed in on as the key motivator for putting the extension through, many questioned the traffic study and whether or not the cart was being put before the horse.
“What is the point of origin for these motorists? Is the extension being put through to facilitate projected traffic growth or will putting the extension through then facilitate growth that will lead to increased traffic?” – was one question.
“Where are these people coming from?”
Much of the process at this point is educated guesswork and this area is no different, so there was no concrete answer. After the meeting, that was one talking point of many in the audience.
On the question of “who decides”, many questions were posed about the role and impact the Town of Grimsby’s stance will have on the process.
Thompson told those in attendance Grimsby council’s opinion was the EA should be stopped entirely, but that was a false claim.
The Town passed a motion last June, again, formally laying out for regional officials that the municipality does not approve of the extension as an option and wanted it removed from plans. There was no opposition to the EA as a whole or development in the area.
“A resolution was already put forward in June, stating that Council does not support the Livingston Avenue extension…” noted an email from Grimsby clerk Sarah Kim to public works earlier this month.
One suggestion made was to combine two options – redevelopment of Main Street between Oakes Road and Casablanca as well as the South Service Road between Hunter and Casablanca instead of the extension option.
Bumstead said this was not an ideal option because it would add to drive times and slow traffic.
“A one-minute drive may become 4-5 minutes,” he said. He added that the QEW “does not play a role in moving traffic for the purposes of this study.”
In a bit of foreshadowing, one of the last questions asked for an explanation of how to file a Part 2 Order, which is an appeal of an EA finding.
It was also noted the results of the EA go the Ministry of the Environment and do not go to Region or the Town of Grimsby for approval.
The appeal window will be 30 or 45 days, but it was uncertain as of Monday’s meeting.