A Stratford man is taking his opposition to the Highway 7/8 expansion online, where he’s hoping to motivate other like-minded people to raise their concerns over the controversial widening project.
John Sewell, who runs a local environmental consulting agency, has launched his blog site, www.mavenperspectives.ca. His first post raises the question: Why build a new road when we've got three perfectly good ones?
“If enough people speak up, by commenting on the blog or guest-posting, the ministry will have to pay attention,” says Sewell, “and stop pushing their one-route solution without discussing valid alternatives.”
The Ministry of Transportation is in the process of finalizing a preliminary design for the portion of the highway that runs between New Hamburg and Stratford. Public consultation sessions are planned for later this summer to gather feedback about design details like road and railway crossings, access points and drainage and lighting requirements, with a final design expected some time in the winter.
The selected route for the expanded highway runs west along the existing 7/8 before dipping south around Road 106 and running along the railway tracks before curving further south around Road 109 and connecting with Line 33 (Pork Road).
In Stratford, the route runs along Lorne Avenue and then Line 32, using Road 125 to connect with the Highway 8.
Sewell notes his inspiration for the blog stems from his frustration with the outreach and consultation activities surrounding the highway project organized by the Ministry of Transportation.
“The ministry and their consultants hold forums that draw upwards of 250 people. But question and answer sessions allowed are just one-on-one. So no one gets to hear questions other people ask, and no one gets to hear the answers,” he notes. “They do this to save time in a public forum. But it's not satisfactory. The ideas coming from the public are never heard.”