YEAR IN REVIEW
By Dianne Cornish • Review Journalist
Another year has slipped by and once again, acting editor Catherine O’Hara and I are consulting with past issues of the Review as we undertake our yearly assignment of selecting the top news stories of 2012.
I can honestly say that the year is a blur to me; it went by so quickly, but as has always been the case since I joined the Review’s staff 12 years ago, there has never been any shortage of stories that impact and reflect the wonderful community of Flamborough.
Two of the ‘biggies’–the proposed Flamborough Quarry and the ongoing Niagara to GTA transportation study – continue to make the headlines. Both are evolving stories that are of great interest to Flamborough residents because a new quarry and a new superhighway in our community, if ever approved, will have profound effects on the people who live here.
St Marys Cement, which wants to open a quarry in northeast Flamborough, continues to be at loggerheads with FORCE (Friends of Rural Communities and the Environment), a grassroots citizen’s group opposed to the proposal, and the Ontario government, which has sided with local agencies and municipalities in opposing the quarry. The aggregate company has chosen to take its dispute to the courts and, as a result, things are moving along very slowly, as they often do when lawyers become involved.
Despite the court actions, FORCE remains steadfast in its opposition to the proposal and capacity attendance at a community meeting in April was ample proof that neighbouring residents are still engaged in the struggle even though it has been going on for the past eight years.
It’s difficult to predict when a decision will be made, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that the current process for aggregate licence applications needs to be streamlined, for the sake of both opponents and proponents of the quarry.
There just has to be a quicker resolution to these questions so that people can get on with their lives without having to worry about their groundwater supply being disrupted, truck traffic in their area being increased and environmentally significant areas being jeopardized.
The aggregate industry, too, deserves a quicker answer so it can get on with business or explore other sites that will help meet the demands for aggregate.
On the subject of aggregate demands, a superhighway through Flamborough is certainly one project that comes readily to mind. There’s been a lot of talk about this superhighway and lots of local opposition to it, particularly from Burlington, although Hamilton has more at stake as far as the percentage of land that lies within it borders that will be affected if the highway is ever built.
There’s definitely been more than a little confusion about where this project is going. It’s been downgraded once from a full mid-peninsula highway from Fort Erie to Highway 407 near Burlington to a modified plan of enhancing existing highway infrastructure in the Hamilton area and building smaller highways at both ends of the originally proposed highway corridor.
Local highway activist Sue McMaster publicly stated last month her suspicions that the government is ready to recommend building a corridor that will run from Ancaster to the 407 in north Burlington, cutting across the Niagara Escarpment and agricultural land in Flamborough. But a recent letter to local municipalities and stakeholders from Ontario Transportation Minister Bob Chiarelli contradicts her contentions, saying that preferred highway expansion options, “at this time,” include widening existing highways in the Hamilton and Halton areas, widening the QEW in the Hamilton to St. Catharines area and building a new corridor south of Welland, connecting Highway 406 to the QEW near Fort Erie. There’s no mention of a possible superhighway through Flamborough, but the meaning behind the words, “at this time,” still leaves doubts about what the future will hold.
There were two other highway stories that captured headlines in 2012 – the proposed reconfiguration of the Highway 5/6 intersection at Clappison’s Corners and the installation of a $5.7-million roundabout at Peters Corners.
Among the big news stories in Waterdown this past year were the removal of city parking meters from downtown streets, the completion of a new addition to Waterdown District High School and the opening of the new St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic School.
After 33 years in newswriting, I have to admit that I never thought I would see the day that a municipal council would openly admit it was wrong about an issue and reverse its decision. That’s what happened with the parking meters in Waterdown and I applaud Hamilton city council for having the courage and the good sense to remove them. The meters weren’t financially viable and no one, including local residents and businesses, wanted them.
Other significant stories in 2012 included the start-up of construction for the new library branch in Lynden, the unveiling of plans for a new multi-use ice pad at the Freelton Community Park, the groundbreaking for the new Waterdown youth centre, and area residents digging deep into their pocketbooks to save Flamborough’s Santa Claus Parade.
There were many more stories about Flamborough people making significant contributions to the community. These will continue into 2013 and are the stuff that perpetuates a great community.