By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
With Highway 418 recently open to the public, Oshawa MPP Jennifer French has renewed her quest to have tolls removed from it as well as the existing Highway 412.
The NDP provincial representative introduced a bill to kill the tolls back in October 2018, but it hasn’t gained much traction at Queen’s Park.
Prior to the 2018 provincial election, all Conservative candidates in the region, including Durham MPP Lindsey Park and Whitby MPP Lorne Coe, said they wanted to see the tolls removed as well.
In a media release sent out after the new highway, along with the 407 extension to Highway 35/115, opened on Dec. 9, French called on the Ford government to follow through.
“During the last Ontario election, Conservative candidates in the Durham Region promised to make taking the tolls off of the 412 and the 418 their first order of business,” French said. “Since the election, students, commuters, boards of trade, chambers of commerce, community groups, municipalities, and the New Democrats have made the case for the removal of tolls from the 412 and 418 – and it looks like this promise from the Ford government is nothing but hollow.”
The tolls on the two Durham highways have been a point of contention for several regional politicians as well.
Current Regional Chair John Henry often speaks about a “lack of cars” on Highway 412, which he attributes to the tolls.
He said motorists are using other roads to access Highway 407, such as Harmony Road in Oshawa, creating even more congestion on city streets.
The province’s decision to put tolls on the connector roads was often criticized by long-time regional chair the late-Roger Anderson.
Speaking on the issue in 2017, Anderson questioned why Durham commuters are the only ones who had to pay tolls to access a tolled highway.
“Just let me give you some of the highways they don’t toll, the 404, 427, 403, 410, 401…any north-south street in Toronto…pick a street you don’t pay,” Anderson said.
Durham MPP Lindsay Park told The Oshawa Express the MTO will be undertaking a study of the economic impact of the tolls in Durham Region, and also on the habits of motorists in regards to the tolled connector roads.