By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
The Durham Region Association of Realtors have joined local politicians in expressing their concern over the tolling of Highways 412 and the future Highway 418.
In a letter to Premier Doug Ford, Tina Sorichetti, the president of DRAR, writes the tolling of both highways is inconsistent with the approach seen with other 400 series connector roads.
“Durham Region is one of the fastest growing regions in the world and the population is expected to grow to 1.2 million by 2041,” the letter reads.
Sorichetti also notes the tolling of the roads doesn’t support the provincial government’s “Open for Business” strategy.
With an increase of 24 per cent in new listings in Durham, DRAR’s president says the organization does not understand the reason for tolling the two connector roads.
“[Tolling these roads] is a disadvantage to homeowners moving to Durham, businesses, employees and residents,” says Sorichetti.
Highway 412 is the only 400 series highway in Ontario where drivers pay a toll on a linked road in order to access Highway 407.
“We ask that the tolls are eliminated or reduced to stop congestion for commuters, maintain fairness for residents, and to follow the ‘Open for Business’ strategy to continue growth and development in Durham Region,” reads the letter.
Sorichetti and DRAR join a long list of individuals and organizations asking for the tolls to be removed.
Oshawa NDP MPP Jennifer French previously introduced a private member’s bill to remove the tolls in October.
“The increased traffic has been made worse because of the 407 and people avoiding the 412 due to cost. So I think that anything that we do to reroute some of that traffic when you have a perfectly good community artery that isn’t being used… if we can free up an alternate route, we’ll see an improvement of flow in Oshawa,” French said.
Durham regional chair and former Oshawa Mayor John Henry has also stated his opposition to the tolls in the past.
“You only have to go over to the 412 and see the lack of cars. You will find that it is not used,” he’s previously said.
Former regional chair Gerri Lynn O’Connor told The Express in November she ran into obstacles trying to schedule a meeting with local PC MPPs to discuss removing the tolls.
Ahead of last year’s provincial election, Conservative candidates running in Durham Region released a joint statement stating the removal of the tolls was a priority.