By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
Question marks still linger around the lands surrounding the Highway 407, and now the Mayor of Oshawa is looking to the province for answers.
During council’s final regular meeting of the year, a motion brought forward by Mayor John Henry is asking the province to release the lands that surround the tolled highway in order to initiate the process for business growth and development in the area.
“The province has not identified their intentions for the employment lands located along Highway 407 East from Pickering through to Harmony Road in Oshawa,” the mayor’s motion reads. “These lands can be utilized for job creation and growth within the Region of Durham.”
For that reason, council is officially requesting that the Ministry of Transportation release the employment lands adjacent to the tolled highway, and the extended section through Oshawa.
“It has been open for almost a year now…there’s no need for the province to continue to hold these lands,” Mayor Henry says. “Now that the road has been built and is operating and the province still has control over those lands, it’s time to look at releasing them and creating employment opportunities for the residents of Durham Region.”
The same was said by Councillor John Aker, who noted that nothing can move forward in the area until the province makes a move.
“They have to be released if we are going to be able to create more employment,” he says.
In the mayor’s opinion, the lands in the area are one of the last remanining blocks of highly developable lands for employment in the GTHA.
“Once those lands are released, I expect to see high valued use along those lands that will help the economy of Oshawa, Durham Region and the province of Ontario,” he says.
The motion comes after the province announced the opening date of the latest section of the extended Highway 407. Steven Del Duca, the Minister of Transportation was in Clarington earlier this month to make the announcement that the newest 9.6 kilometre stretch of road, which pushes the highway further east, will open in January, with tolling to begin immediately.
The first phase of the extended highway, which opened last year, is seeing approximately 40,000 drivers a day, according to numbers from the province. The final phase, scheduled to open in 2020, will connect Highway 407 to Highway 115, and include Highway 418, which will connect the toll road north/south to Highway 401.
“The opening of another stretch of Highway 407 will have a significant impact on improving the daily commute and quality of life for Ontario families,” Del Duca said. “Our government is delivering on this key project that will provide Durham Region with an efficient alternate option for travelling, while simultaneously helping fund other key transportation infrastructure in this region and across the province.”