Echoing a motion passed by the Town of Whitby, the City of Oshawa is calling on the province to end tolls on Highway 412, the highway connecting Highway 401 with Highway 407 in Ajax. Councillor Nester Pidwerbecki noted that the 412 is the only toll highway that connects to the 407, also a toll highway.
By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
This time around it came from the Town of Whitby, but Oshawa council is once again calling on the province to eliminate tolls on Highway 412, the north-south connector between Highway 401 and the newly opened eastern expansion of Highway 407.
The new route, which saw tolls come into effect on Feb. 1, connects the 401 in Ajax to the extended section of the 407 that opened last year.
“This would be the only toll highway off the 407, that we’re aware of, that runs north and south,” said Councillor Nester Pidwerbecki. “Which I think is ridiculous.”
The councillor went on to add that when the new tolls come into effect, it will force vehicles to come to the Harmony Road exit in Oshawa to avoid the extra toll, adding the area is bad enough as it is at certain times of the day.
“We know what the congestion is off the 407 now coming off of Harmony Road…it’s almost impassable,” he said.
The sentiment was shared by Councillor Rick Kerr, who noted the tolls don’t give residents many options when it comes to getting to the 407.
“I think they’re held for ransom,” he said of drivers.
However, Councillor Amy McQuaid-England felt that council’s endorsement of Whitby’s motion, which is a letter to Ministry of Transportation Minister Stephen Del Duca, doesn’t go far enough.
“I think we’re missing something here,” she said, noting Premier Kathleen Wynne’s recent opposition to toll roads on Toronto’s Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway.
“I think at this time, I won’t be supporting it as is. I think we should have a much stronger motion to the premier.”
Council eventually approved the original motion, which goes in line with a previous decision in June 2016 when Oshawa council stated its opposition to tolls on the 412 and Highway 418, which will connect to the newest extension of the 407 in Clarington, which is not yet open.
Speaking after the meeting, Mayor John Henry says that putting the tolls on roads in Durham Region is different than anywhere else.
“Why do you want to charge people for the ability to get on the 407, you’re going to have to pay to use the 407,” he says. “The challenge that you have is, why is Durham different?…You’re taxing people to go to work, but you’re also taxing people to come out of Toronto to come here to work and, you know, it’s just wrong.”