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Morriston bypass petition presented to MPP

Petition presented - Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott accepts the petitions endorsing the move of the Morriston bypass to the five-year provincial plan for highway projects.      photo by Mike Robinson

Morriston bypass petition presented to MPP

by Mike Robinson

MORRISTON - A petition of 2,237 signatures has been presented in Queens Park asking for the Morriston bypass to be included in the provincial five-year-plan for highway road projects.

The plan has been on the books for years, but this January members of the Puslinch Community Oriented Policing (COP) group decided to gear things up with both online and paper petitions to voice their concerns to the province.

The petition states that an evaluation of Highway 6 south was initiated in the 1980s and a Morriston bypass project presented to the province in 1994.

It states “very little progress has been made since then, despite numerous meetings with a succession of Ministry of Transportation Ontario (MTO)ministers by Puslinch councillors and local residents.”

While there is an appreciation of the fact the province has many needs to address with limited funds, supporters state Morriston is a unique situation.

David Haley, chairman of the petition subcommittee of the Puslinch COP committee, offered a recap of the petition’s history.

“Back in January we decided as a committee that we would take some action on this issue,” said Haley. “It didn’t take long for our little committee to decide to have both online and paper petitions.”

He said committee member  Karen Harding took care of the online aspect.

“Right from the beginning we were involved with (Wellington-Halton Hills MPP) Ted Arnott making sure we were doing things the right way,” Haley added.

“Thanks to media like the Wellington Advertiser, we got what we feel is tremendous coverage on this issue.

“People everywhere in this community know about it and the facts about it. I can’t think of another issue where there has been as much in the way of widespread understanding and support - especially here in Morriston.”

Haley continued, “If you live in Morriston, you are putting up with this 24/7. I don’t know how people live here. I really don’t.”

He suspected the amount of traffic also affects the sale of houses in the area as well.

“All you have to do is get out of your car and stand anywhere in this community and you hear the constant roar of trucks.”

Haley added that so far petitions have gathered 2,237 signatures, 801 of which are online.

“The problem we ran into was that the OPP wouldn’t let us stand at the stoplights here and intercept cars while they were stopped. Our idea had been to give out business cards with basic information.”

He suspected that would have generated thousands of additional signatures.

“Signatures are coming from all over,” said Haley.

He agreed the greatest concentration of signatures was from Morriston and Puslinch, “but there are people who commute who have signed up online.”

Committee member Sandra Soloman said she was “very pleasantly surprised. I think it is wonderful so many people have signed the petitions.”

When the work began, Soloman thought there might be more online than paper signatures.

“It’s really encouraging. I think it is great the community has come out and supported us.” She added the online petition with additional comments gives a more pointed illustration of the frustration felt by some drivers.

“I am so proud of the community and think they have done a wonderful job.”

Glenna Smith, chair of the Puslinch COP committee, said the issue is much larger than the petition itself.

“The Morriston bypass issue has been going on for about 30 years.” But over the years, the situation has gotten progressively worse, Smith said.

While Smith lives in another portion of Puslinch, she said the purpose of the COP committee is to look at safety issues throughout the township.

She noted it was Arnott who suggested to the group that a petition might be effective in bringing the issue forward.

“We had some very eager beavers to put the petitions online and to go door-to-door to get signatures,” said Smith.

“We have great support and we visited MPP Ted McMeekin, who offered his support in that he make the issue known to caucus.”

She said it will be Arnott who presents the petition to the legislature and, “We’ll go from there as we hope and pray for the  best.”

In the best-case scenario, the Morriston bypass will be included in the provincial five-year-plan of highway projects.

“If it doesn’t, I guess we are back to square one. I don’t know what we can do next, I really don’t,” Smith said.

She added while there were four members of the petition subcommittee, there were about 15 people working altogether. She noted petitions were at local businesses throughout the area.

The petition itself states that traffic has increased dramatically over the years. In 2006, trucks represented 12 per cent  of the traffic, while today’s estimates have the amount at closer to 30%.

As the documents were presented to Arnott, Haley spoke of the situation and the support of the community.

The contention is that Morriston is caught in the centre of a main transportation corridor linking the GTA with Highway 401.

Arnott said that any idea may be advocated by an MPP,  “But if there isn’t strong public support to make a strong case, it is very difficult to make it happen.”

Haley said they are quite aware the province has to set its priorities, but this issue has gotten progressively worse over the past 30 years.

Arnott agreed the Morriston bypass needs to be in the five-year-plan. His hope was that in the weeks leading up to a decision by the transportation minister, “we can get this in and make the minister aware of the need in this community.”

On May 13, Arnott tabled a petition in the Ontario Legislature calling on the government to prioritize the Highway 6 Morriston bypass project by placing it on the ministry of transportation’s five-year plan for new highway construction.

 He gave credit to the committee and the many other volunteers who have worked so hard to focus attention on the need for a bypass.

“Hopefully, this will help to show the government how important this project is to our community.  It gives the minister yet another reason to put it on to his five-year plan,” Arnott said.

He added, “Their support shows that this project has support throughout our area and it cuts across party lines.”

May 17, 2013


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