NIMBYism — the “not-in-my-backyard” attitude — often paralyzes important infrastructure investments in this country. It has delayed the badly needed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and liquefied natural gas terminals out west. Now it’s threatening a proposed logistics hub in Ontario.
The Region of Halton, its member municipalities — Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton and Oakville — and Conservation Halton announced in February that they’re “commencing a joint court application” to review the impacts of the Milton Logistics Hub.
The proposed hub is a $250 million state-of-the-art rail and truck goods-movement centre, which CN plans to build on 400 of the 1,000 acres it owns in Milton, a town about 60 kilometres west of Toronto. It would help get products such as food, furniture and electronics to people in central Canada more quickly.
CN announced its plans to build the hub in March 2015 and the federally appointed review panel is expected to rule on it later this year or early 2019. The region’s court application could slow down the much-needed project even more. And it could raise costs for consumers.
We often take the movement of goods from manufacturer to retailer for granted and that’s a big problem. Here’s why: Right now, the population of the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA) is around seven million people and choking on gridlock. Our national and regional economies are bleeding billions in lost productivity.
By 2041, a projected 10 million people will be living in the area. If we don’t build more quality transportation infrastructure — fast — costs and delays will surely increase.
Without adequate infrastructure, you and your family will pay more, and wait longer for the products you need. This is a problem not only for those living and doing business in the GTHA-Waterloo Region corridor, but also for our country. CN’s proposed transportation hub is part of the solution.
Canada’s goods movement system is already under stress. CN’s Brampton Intermodal Terminal (BIT), which handles more than one million containers annually, is at capacity. Hence, the need for a second facility at Milton, which would employ more than 100 people directly, and create 1,000 indirect jobs. CN’s BIT has been good for Brampton, creating significant employment, and attracting industry. These facilities are crucial for delivering local goods to export markets around the world. Transportation hubs are part of the solution — NIMBYism and excessive bureaucracy aren’t.
Because a single intermodal train can transport the same number of containers as 280 long-distance heavy trucks, the Milton facility would in effect eliminate the need for more than 1,000 heavy trucks on Ontario’s 400-series highways each and every day – something we would all like to see. According to the American Association of Railroads, shipping by rail is four times more fuel-efficient than trucking.
The proper jurisdiction for consideration of this project is federal because CN is federally regulated. The movement of goods throughout the GTHA-Waterloo corridor is an economic driver of national consequence.
The proposed terminal connects southwestern Ontario manufactured goods to stores from the Atlantic to Pacific coasts and to key Midwestern American markets including strategic ports as far away as the Gulf of Mexico.
The environmental review process has been, and continues to be, comprehensive and inclusive of local concerns. Halton Region, its municipalities, and Conservation Halton have had, and will continue to have, ample opportunity to provide submissions to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, that oversees the review process. So why change the rules now and spend taxpayer dollars on a legal challenge? It’s this kind of excessive bureaucracy that hinders economic progress.
CN has taken numerous steps to address the needs of the community. For example, it built a 1.7-kilometre roadway on its property to ensure that trucks transporting containers to the hub (estimated to represent less than three per cent of traffic in the Town of Milton) won’t cause queuing on public roads.
In addition, the company has developed a detailed traffic-management plan ensuring that it meets the rigorous environmental standards required. This legal challenge sends an unwelcoming message for all businesses wanting to create jobs in Halton.
The federal government review had been proceeding exactly as it was designed to, but NIMBYism and efforts to change the rules once an established process is underway, have impeded progress. All while risking convenient, affordable and reliable access for consumers to the products they need. That’s not fair. For the sake of Canadian families and the economies of the GTHA and the country, let’s hope that NIMBY politics won’t get in the way of progress.
Todd Letts is CEO of the Brampton Board of Trade, whose members employ 45,000 people in Peel Region and the surrounding area.
Note from WSOE.Org : This content has been auto-generated from a syndicated feed.