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What’s the real cost of building the proposed GTA West Highway?

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The Ontario government is about to make a big decision that will tell us a lot about what the future of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area will look like. The reason is that, according to the Ministry of Transportation (MTO), the fate of the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the GTA West, AKA Highway 413, will be decided within the next 60 days.

The EA estimates the highway will cost $4 to $6 billion to construct, excluding the expense of land expropriation and ongoing highway maintenance.

But the real societal costs of building the GTA West highway would include the loss of thousands of acres of farmland, paving over the last remaining forested area in Vaughan, increased air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. These are costs we all bear.

For those who think the highway will alleviate congestion and speed up their commute, don’t bet on it.

Research indicates that ‘induced demand’ results in an ‘if you build it they will come’ scenario. In other words, building a highway will encourage more people to drive, adding to existing congestion.  The goal of transportation planning should be to reduce, not increase, vehicle miles travelled (VMT). New highways that attract new drivers run counter to this goal.

Beyond the financial costs, this highway would put a toll on health for those living near it.

Traffic is the largest source of air pollution in the GTHA and health impacts of air pollution from tail pipes affects one in three Canadian homes. Recent research by the University of California indicates that brain function and development may be affected by even low levels of air pollution. There is an opportunity to reduce air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and improve our health by driving less, driving electric vehicles, taking public transit, biking and walking. The government can help by making it easier for more people to take transit, not by building more highways.

Recently approved provincial land use policy encourages compact mixed use development connected by public transit to discourage highway led development. These changes were made because the cost of sprawl has proven to be too onerous. So why build the proposed highway 413 when it doesn’t directly serve the urban growth centres of Brampton and Vaughan?

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Halifax’s Scotiabank Centre reopens for Mooseheads’ season opener

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The home of the Halifax Mooseheads will reopen next month to host the team’s season home opener, although the experience will be different as a result of COVID-19.

The Scotiabank Centre will reopen on Oct. 3, after its reopening framework was reviewed by Nova Scotia’s public health and occupational health and safety departments, the company operating the centre and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) team announced on Tuesday.

“We’re thrilled to be reopening and welcoming our fans back to Scotiabank Centre,” said Carrie Cussons, the president and CEO of Scotiabank Centre.

The centre will be following all standard health and safety guidelines related to the wearing of non-medical masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing and contact tracing, the company said.

But there will be additional protections put in place as well in order to limit any possible spread of the novel coronavirus.

Scotiabank Centre will be divided into separate zones of up to 200 people with set washrooms, concessions and entrance/exit points for each zone.

The organization also announced that tickets will be sold in groups of up to 10 within the same bubble, respecting the province’s guidelines on gatherings.

Fans and attendees will be required to wear a non-medical mask at all times, except when they are consuming food or beverages, the Scotiabank Centre said.

Tickets will also be mobile-only in order to minimize close contact between individuals.

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Candidate slate set for Halifax election as mayoral race grows to three candidates

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The slate of candidates for the Halifax Regional Municipality’s upcoming election has been finalized and it’s now officially a three-horse race for the municipality’s mayoral seat.

Incumbent mayor Mike Savage will face off against Coun. Matt Whitman, the current representative for the Hammonds Plains–St. Margarets, and political newcomer Max Taylor.

Whitman and Savage have previously announced their plans to run but Taylor’s inclusion in the race was a last minute surprise.

On his campaign’s Facebook page, the 22-year-old says his platform is “simple”

“Get out and vote. I don’t care who you vote for, I care that you vote,” he writes.

One of the more notable aspects of Taylor’s presence in the race is his status on social media platform Tik Tok.

He’s built a following of more than 600,000 people on the platform and his videos have generated more than 20.6 million likes.

What that will do for his candidacy is up in the air, but he’s sure to bring a youthful energy to the process.

 

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Here’s what Toronto’s new 57-storey skyscraper will look like

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The corner of Bay and Harbour may be getting a new 57-storey office tower perched atop the heritage Toronto Harbour Commission Building.

Updated plans for The Hub — a skyscraper from multinational corporation Oxford Properties — have been submitted, and if approved, will see a building designed by London-based firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners to 30 Bay Street.

The project near Toronto’s waterfront which was initially proposed in 2018 will add around 1.4 million square feet of office space to the neighbourhood. The building’s west side will also be directly connected to The PATH network.

The Hub will also sit overtop (but only lightly touching) its next door neighbour: the six-storey Toronto Harbour Commission Building, which was built in 1917.

Nicknamed “The T”, the historic building was sold to Oxford in 2017 for $96 million. Fun fact: The T is also reportedly haunted by the ghost of a janitor.

It’s not entirely clear how the interior of the old Commission Building will play into The Hub’s commercial workspace, but the design of the 57-storey building shows the strategic use of four columns to allow for distance between the main building and The T.

The two buildings will be connected by a “finely detailed glazed atrium.”

Windows will stretch from floor to ceiling in the four-storey lobby, which will be home to restaurants, retail spaces, meeting and event spaces, and maybe a fitness facility.

Floors five to eight of the podium will see larger office floors.

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