Peterborough Greenspace Coalition Public Statement on The Parkway, September 24, 2017

At the Monday, September 25, 2017 closed meeting of Peterborough’s Committee of the Whole, Council will receive and likely accept a staff report on the “Options and Recommended Next Steps to Respond to the Minister’s Order for the Parkway Corridor Class EA (Environmental Assessment).” This report recommends among other things:

“That the Mayor be authorized to submit a proposal to Premier Wynne to allow the City to proceed immediately with scaled back versions of the north and south sections of The Parkway.”

The following is our public statement, including:

  • Requests for better public planning,
  • calling out fiscal irresponsibility,
  • and thinly veiled ploys,
  • that disrespect the EA,
  • and express hope that we can do better.

This newest challenge has happened quickly and we seek your support and action to respond, including at next week’s City Council Meeting.

Clear your calendar for Monday October 2, and watch for more updates and calls to action over the next few days.

After reading the statement below you may wish review our freshly written myth busting document about things that were omitted in the staff report that council will get Monday.


Image Comparison of Parks and Parkways

September 24, 2017

“The 20th century will be remembered as an unfortunate one for urban history, as we created habitats far more conducive to the movement of motor vehicles than to human well-being.” — Enrique Penalosa, former mayor of Bogota, Colombia, quoted in Carsick: Reclaiming Our Cities from the Automobile, by Christopher Hume

IN RESPONSE TO the City Report USDIR17-009 with regard to the Order from the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, the Peterborough Greenspace Coalition (PGC) seeks a cost effective, timely, and sustainable solution to moving people and goods in our community.

PGC proposes that good city planning and relevant transportation solutions be advanced immediately in a logical and public process, rather than complying with staff recommendations to proceed with the Parkway, a road project driven solely by development dollars and road engineering.

A better way forward is readily available, as partly acknowledged in the City report. PGC proposes that the City:

  1. Prioritize and invest in a shift to active transportation and transit options plus intersection and neighbourhood improvements, as already identified in the Transportation Plan. The Parkway EA required this as part of its recommendations and, thus, these are not additional costs.
  2. Convene a round-table or task force of City staff and community representatives (including Parkway opponents) with an independent facilitator to work through key issues and review forecast models.
  3. Revise the Official Plan to increase mixed uses, compact development, and active transportation (e.g. walking, cycling). This will reduce the need for vehicular travel and traffic on our roads. Focus on good planning for the community, not planning for a single focus on the Parkway.
  4. Once the Official Plan is in place, develop an updated Transportation Plan based on new data that is due to become available over the next six months. This 2011 Plan is already due for review.

PGC’s proposal would take no more than two years and presents the most inexpensive and constructive option for moving forward. This approach is also evidence-based, flexible, strategic, and incorporates meaningful engagement and consultation on citizens’ vision for the city.

“PGC agrees that there are some traffic congestion issues in the north end of the city, and that these may be exacerbated by approved developments, for example those along Parkhill Road and Lily Lake” says Peter Hewett, a PGC spokesperson.

“There are far more cost-effective solutions to these congestion challenges than building an unnecessarily expensive parkway with permanent negative environmental and social consequences. These better solutions include, but are not limited to, computerized traffic management, signal coordination, reducing car use, and effective use of one-way streets and left-hand turn lanes.”

The Parkway is an expensive vanity project the public doesn’t want.

At least $1.2 million in consulting fees, thousands of staff hours, and five years later, the City has achieved nothing more than a collection of reports peddling the same out-dated and losing arguments. This is an expensive vanity project that citizens long ago rejected, including in the 2003 Parkway referendum.

This one road would be the most expensive project in Peterborough’s history and yet, in a desperate ploy, the city is proposing to award carte blanche to the Mayor to immediately develop the parkway corridor without any transparency or accountability to City Council and voters. If endorsed, the southern and northern stretches of the parkway corridor construction will start immediately with zero opportunity for public or City Councillor input over what happens next.

In a desperate ploy, the city is proposing to award carte blanche to the Mayor to immediately develop the Parkway corridor without any transparency or accountability.

Despite an apparent willingness to consider removing the bridge through Jackson Park from the proposed plan, the immediate completion of the southern and northern portions ultimately will almost certainly lead to a bridge through Jackson Park. This is piecemealing and is an offence under the province’s Environmental Assessment Act. The only strategy to ensure the bridge is never built is to remove it as an option from the Official Plan: although this possibility is raised in the report, it is subsequently negated! Clearly, the City intends to keep the bridge option at the forefront of its plans.

One year ago, the city was ordered by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to conduct an Individual Environmental Assessment to ensure further review of the planning and design alternatives, as well as undertake further consultation with the public on the evaluation of the design alternatives.

The “Parkway by Stealth” campaign continues to use every tactic possible to force the bridge through Jackson Park, even if it postures that non-bridge options will be looked at.

In defiance of this order, the city proposes no further public engagement on the southern and northern stretches, and instead is attempting to avoid a full Independent Environmental Assessment (IEA), claiming this will be done only for the “middle section” bridge through Jackson Park.

Worse, the report explains that the Mayor’s Office has in fact already attempted this very approach without public or Council input, but that on May 18, 2017 the Minister responded by reiterating the City must complete an IEA before proceeding. Yet, staff continue to seek to dodge this requirement and suggest that a new Minister or different provincial government may look at the Parkway project more favourably. The “Parkway by Stealth” campaign continues to use every tactic possible to force the bridge through Jackson Park, even if it postures that non-bridge options will be looked at.

Despite the significant money, time, and effort spent on this project, the city has failed to secure public support and, as a result, the necessary provincial approvals to proceed. Yet again, this new proposal does not do what the province requires.

Instead of achieving realistic and affordable transportation solutions for Peterborough, the city continues to divert staff and community resources and time on a single and divisive road. In contrast, PGC asks that the City learn from other midsize North American cities that, when faced with similar transportation dilemmas, chose modern and innovative solutions consistent with a 21st century paradigm to create vibrant, people-focused cities that are attractive and healthy.

PGC asks the City to learn from other cities that, when faced with similar transportation dilemmas, chose modern and innovative solutions to create vibrant, people-focused cities that are attractive and healthy.

We can always build more roads, and we can always manipulate their routes and influence human choices toward their use. We will never again be able to be blessed with such a publicly valued natural park and greenspace trail at the heart of our city. Upon her death in 1890, Charlotte Nicholls set aside $60,000 “for the purpose of purchasing and improving public parks and recreation grounds in the said town of Peterborough” and “to hold them in trust for the inhabitants of the said town forever.” Jackson Park was the first created by the Nicholls Trust, in 1893.

Why allow a single — unreasonably divisive, rushed, skewed, and significantly flawed — proposal to do so much lasting harm to Peterborough? With so many unresolved issues, if the city wishes to pursue this project, the only solution is to require an Individual Environmental Assessment.


Video – What We Risk Losing

PGC’s Three Formal Submissions to the Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC):

  • March 24, 2014 – Parkway Corridor Class Environmental Assessment Request for a Part II Order: A joint submission to the Ontario Minister of the Environment and the City of Peterborough by the Peterborough Greenspace Coalition.
  • June 27, 2014 – PGC Comments on City Response to Part II Order Requests for the Parkway Corridor Class EA 1. (Available upon request.)
  • April 27, 2016 – A Response to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change by the Peterborough Greenspace Coalition regarding the Ministerial Order to the City of Peterborough on the Peterborough Parkway Corridor Class EA.
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