Whitby residents denounce $200 million Highway 7/12 re-route that would “destroy” their homes

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Published October 28, 2021 at 11:15 am

Brooklin residents continued to voice dissent about a proposed change to the Highway 7 and Highway 12 path through the village which opponents say could destroy their homes and hurt their businesses while costing the Town up to $200 million.

The project began in December 2019 when the town opened up bidding to study the need and impact of a Highway 7/12 alternate route. Whitby council cited an expected population boom of 40 per cent, and excessive through-traffic, including transport trucks, on the two-lane highway along Baldwin Street as reasons for the re-route.

The town began public consultations for the proposed route in June 2020 with a community open house that outlined the project. Two more open houses have been held since then, the latest in July 2021.

The latest such survey found that while 35 per cent of respondents strongly supported the project, 49 per cent strongly rejected the proposition. Most who did not support the change cited potential danger to the Oak Ridges Moraine, a ridge of land left that collects much of Durham’s water table.

The town says the potential routes only cross the less vulnerable segments of the moraine, the Natural Linkage and Countryside area, and leaves the Natural Core areas alone. The town claims this separation “will ensure that the ecological integrity of the Natural Core Areas are preserved.”

Fourteen residents came forward in a Committee of the Whole meeting on October 25 to voice their concerns. Delegate Kyle Douglas described telling his wife and son that their home would be “plowed over.”

“I have to explain to my three year-old son that the best alternate route for moving this highway will destroy our home,” he told council. “All the families on this proposed alternate route are completely stressed and overwhelmed.”

Alex MacCulloch, owner of the Brooklin Rehabilitation and Sports injury centre echoed Douglas’ comments. He described an atmosphere of little engagement with business owners and called the process unrealistic.

“The town appears to have a vision for downtown Brooklin, but it’s not based on current or perhaps even future reality,” he said, “You cannot fit a $250 million dollar retail square peg into a service-based round hole.”

Town estimates put the cost between $150-200 million, but there will be no set projection until the route is decided.

Many of the other delegations reiterated these concerns. Some, like Andrea Sorenson, outlined the destruction of farmland, noting the two proposed routes would cut through her property taking up over a quarter of her land.

Even Councillor Elizabeth Roy, who chaired the meeting and lives in the proposed area, admitted she was unhappy when she discovered the location of the alternate route. “It’s not a great feeling at all.”

The project is moving into the Documentation Phase later this year. It will see the submission of a Transportation Environmental Study Report, followed by a 30-day review period before final notice of completion by Winter 2022.

More information can be found on ConnectWhitby.

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