407 extension approved with a blank cheque, in latest example of Liberal seat-protection

407 extension approved with a blank cheque, in latest example of Liberal seat-protection

As part of its recent spending restraint, the Liberal government of Ontario, led by Dalton McGuinty, truncated its plans to extend the 407 highway through Oshawa all the way to the 115/35 Highway, which leads to Peterborough. This got the mayor of Oshawa so upset he tried to raid Toronto’s discarded Transit City funding. He was rebuffed on that, but not to fear: swing seats in the 905 continue to prove that the most effective way of getting provincial cash in an election year is to threaten the government’s majority.

According to the Toronto Sun:

The Ontario government will build the Hwy. 407 east extension to Harmony Rd. in Oshawa by 2015 and complete it to Hwy. 35/115 by 2020, Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne is announcing. The government has been under pressure from many Durham Region politicians and residents to complete the extension in one phase.

Instead, the government revealed last year that it planned to build the first phase from Brock Rd. in Pickering to Simcoe Street in northern Oshawa, drawing concerns from nearby residents of the Hamlet of Columbus that traffic would pour into their small community.

Ah, but here’s the interesting part. The Globe and Mail and Toronto Star both mention that “it is not known” how much this will cost. For a government that’s staked a reputation on fiscal rectitude in the face of a deficit (the reasoning behind gutting the Transit City funding last year), to write Oshawa a blank cheque is more than a little disingenuous.

This isn’t the worst blank cheque ever to be written, but it’s likely to cost a minimum of $200 million to complete the 407, and, incidentally, try to save two Liberal seats in Oshawa. We’re sure it’s totally worth it.

Hwy. 407 to 35/115 complete by 2020 [Toronto Sun]
• Liberals to extend Highway 407 [Toronto Star]
• Toll highway 407 to connect with Peterborough link by 2020 [Globe and Mail]