Peterborough Mayor Daryl Bennett will meet with Ontario’s premier to discuss alternate plans to building the Parkway — one of the most contentious issues debated at city hall for over 60 years.
The Parkway debate was front and centre again Monday night as Peterborough city council examined a new city staff report which looked to revive plans to build a scaled-back version of the four-lane roadway.
“What we’re essentially doing is having the mayor go to the premier and ask her to go against her own minister,” said Pappas.
A staff report filed last Friday recommended looking at ways to go ahead and build the north and south sections of the Parkway while leaving out the controversial middle section that includes a four-lane bridge over Jackson Park.
Any progress on the Parkway seemed to hit a roadblock after the provincial Ministry of the Environment ruled that a full environmental assessment would have to be conducted before the extension ever took shape.
The staff report suggests Bennett send a proposal directly to Premier Kathleen Wynne in order to look at options around building the roadway to help ease traffic issues and to allow development, particularly in the north end of the city, essentially asking her to overrule the ministry’s requests.
“This report we’re receiving is about removing restrictions on traffic to allow development to continue in the north end and that is something this community is in bad need of,” said Bennett.
The report also suggests the north and south end of the Parkway could be built with a price tag of $80 million, much cheaper than the initial $104-million assessment and could forego the environmental study which staff suggests could take upwards of seven years to complete.
Coun. Keith Riel cautioned that pushing this forward could be breaking the law and was against the report.
“If we try to spatula this or do part of it,” he said. “The government would not look favourably on this here … while doing north and south end construction and leaving this vacuum here in the middle which is Jackson Park.”
Coun. Dan McWilliams shared a more dire perspective and suggests we have a “transportation crisis” in the city and wanted to move the report and build for the future.
“We’ve got a road that goes nowhere, absolutely nowhere. And here we’ve got a mayor that wants to open some dialogue and try to get things moving,” he said.
Council voted 6-5 in favour of the report. The issue will be back at council next week when the public will have its chance to weigh in.