In a major departure from the policy of the Wynne-McGinty Liberals Premier Doug Ford announced more than $2.6 Billion in highway construction projects while at the same time announcing a streamlined process to fast-track the building of residential properties along some of the new transit stops that will be built in Toronto as part of subway expansion there. The major highway projects include twinning the Garden City Skyway, Widening a large stretch of the 401 to six lanes and widening Highway 3 from Windsor to Leamington to four lanes.
At the same time Ford announced the government will introduce sweeping legislation designed to make it easier to build “transit-oriented communities” atop or adjacent to stations on the forthcoming Ontario Line, the Scarborough subway, and the proposed Eglinton West LRT and Yonge North subway extensions. Legislation will make it easier to obtain environmental approval for large transit projects but also for key highway projects, something that had been impossible up to now.
The previous Wynne government had imposed a de-facto freeze on major new highway projects, banking on expanded public transit to meet increasing demand. This despite government studies that predicted a continuing increase in highway congestion even with the full rollout of the Metrolinx “Big Move” suite of transit projects.