(TORONTO) - Lake Ontario Waterkeeper called on Leona Dombrowsky, newly appointed Minister of Environment, to fast-track the province's decision on the future of the Red Hill Valley today.
Tensions over the proposed Red Hill Creek Expressway have reached an all-time high as police arrested several demonstrators on October 27 and an Anglican Canon on November 4, 2003 (later released). Demonstrations were sparked by the City of Hamilton's attempts to push ahead with construction before the upcoming municipal election.
"The Minister of Environment has the authority to protect the valley and the integrity of the Environmental Assessment process," says Waterkeeper Mark Mattson. Our question is simple: will the Minister review its approval for the expressway or not?
Waterkeeper's concerns are prompted by a series of criminal convictions and administrative orders brought on by the City of Hamilton's poor stewardship of the valley.
We feel the people of Hamilton are justified in hesitating to trust the future of the Red Hill Valley to the city. It feels like asking a thief to guard your treasure, says Mattson.
Waterkeeper filed its first formal request for a review of the project on August 21, 2003. The environmental justice group asked the Minister of Environment to exercise his authority under Section 11.4(1) of Ontario's Environmental Assessment Act and review a provincial approval granted eighteen years ago.
Minister Dombrovsky's response is expected to set a precedent for what Lake Ontario communities can expect of the new Liberal government's environmental policy.
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper is a registered charity working to protect Lake Ontario and its communities through education in environmental law.