April 12, 2007

MPP sends petition to Northern Ontario communities to gain support for Highway 17 enhancements

Toronto, Ontario – MPP David Orazietti has sent out a public petition and city council resolution to Northern Ontario communities to gain support for his Private Member’s Bill, which calls on the federal government to support enhancements to Highway 17 that will improve the Trans-Canada Highway in the region.

“Northerners deserve a new deal from the federal government when it comes to Trans Canada Highway funding and historically there is a greater obligation that Ottawa needs to live up to,” says Orazietti. “This is a chance for communities along Highway 17 to express their views and support a project that will improve the economy, safety and quality of life for everyone in Northern Ontario.”

Bill 149 passed first reading on October 17, 2006, was introduced for a second reading on October 26, 2006, and has been referred to the Standing Committee on General Government. The Act calls on the federal government to enter into a cost-sharing agreement with the province to improve the Northern Ontario section of the Trans-Canada Highway. The petition offers citizens an opportunity to impress the importance of the highway on federal and provincial elected representatives; it will be made available through local municipal offices and city halls in communities along Highway 17.

“These petitions and resolutions will give others an opportunity to share the vision of a modernized Trans-Canada Highway in Northern Ontario, with improved safety measures such as additional passing lanes, paved shoulders, rumble strips, rest stops, and ultimately a four-lane divided highway,” Orazietti says.

The provincial government has committed $843.5 million toward highways in Northern Ontario since 2004/05, but more safety improvements are required. The Trans-Canada Highway in Northern Ontario has the lowest percentage of four-laned highway when compared to any other jurisdiction in the country, at only 10 per cent; an average of 39 fatalities occur as a result of collisions, especially in winter when snow and ice create challenges on a highway without separated traffic. Some 342,411 commercial trips are taken annually on Highway 17 across Northern Ontario each year, carrying more than $1.2 billion in forestry products and almost $1.5 billion in metals and minerals from mining activities.

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