Twinning of Garden City Skyway in St. Catharines now part of a massive highway plan


Published March 10, 2022 at 2:29 pm

The twinning of the Garden City Skyway that straddles the border of St. Catharines and Niagara-on-the-Lake was just a small part of a massive infrastructure roadwork plan just released by Caroline Mulroney, Ontario Minister of Transportation.

Creating a second highway on the north side of the Garden City Skyway has been in the plans since an engineering firm told the government back in 2014 that the roadway would have to be replaced by 2025.

Since that portion of the highway leads directly to three border crossings in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Falls and Fort Erie, it’s imperative that the government deals with the roadway before it literally starts to crumble.

However, the Skyway project itself was revealed to be part of a far larger masterplan on infrastructure creation and upgrading roadway throughout the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area, an area that stretches from Guelph to the west, Barrie and Orillia to the north, Peterborough on the east and then right down to both Niagara and Haldimand Regions on Lake Erie.

That chunk of land takes in a population of more than 10 million people and the Province is saying that will expand to 15 million people by 2050 – a number that’s higher than the entire Ontario population at the moment.

Interestingly enough, it also lumps the twinning of the Garden City Skyway in a huge plan that includes the controversial and highly unpopular Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass projects. In essence, what the MTO okayed for the Garden City Skyway is now a tiny footnote in a much larger plan.

To propose the Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass projects, the Ford government created a Ministerial Zoning Order (MZO) to allows the Province to bypass all existing Official Plans in regions and municipalities with the potential to pave over 2,000 acres of farmland, cut through 85 waterways, damage 220 wetlands and disrupt the habitats of 10 species-at-risk.

That’s the reason behind the controversy – that the MZOs created by the Ford government will simply allow crews to pave over any land the government sees fit in the name of easing traffic congestion.

However, to the residents of Niagara, nothing much will change. By the start of 2024, the twin highway to the Garden City Skyway will be built on the north side between the present bridge and Lake Ontario. Once, the new highway is created, all QEW traffic will be diverted onto it while crews repair the existing Skyway.

Once that patchwork is done, the new north Skyway will handle all Toronto-bound traffic while the existing but repaired Skyway will handle the Niagara-bound traffic.

The plan laid out by Mulroney does have a nod to the Niagara roadwork with a quick nod to “improving our ports and cross-border movement” but it is one note in literally dozens of pages.

The twinning of the Garden City Skyway between St. Catharines and Niagara-on-the-Lake is the only Niagara area project in a massive transportation plan that covers this entire area called the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area.

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