Whitby mayor outlines economic development plans for Hwy. 407 corridor, credits Hwy. 412 toll removal for new investment

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Published April 14, 2023 at 5:03 pm

Whitby mayor Elizabeth Roy sat down with Insauga founder Khaled Iwamura to discuss her plans for future economic development along the Hwy. 407 corridor, one of her key election promises.

While the full plans are hindered by the release of provincially owned lands, the town has set up some elements to fill the area. The proposed Whitby hospital location has also run into some delays it’s not the only health care coming to the area.

Chief among the new features set to dot the Hwy. 407 Corridor is a new medical facility set to employ roughly 350 medical staff members.

Meanwhile on the far side of the road, a little to the south of the highway proper, industrial lands are currently being built. Roy described these projects as “very large manufacturing and warehousing facilities.”

However, Roy said these were just “the start” of projects coming to the area. According to Roy, the long-awaited removal of tolls on Hwy. 412 was a boon to such developments finally allowing employees to commute to work there.

Previously taking the nearly nine-kilometre route from Hwy. 401 to Hwy. 407 cost 88 cents per kilometre. This proved prohibitively expensive for many, adding up to nearly $8 per trip, nearly $16 to commute back in forth, or nearly $80 per five-day workweek.

Removing the tolls had long been promised by every Durham Region MPP and Premier Doug Ford stretching back until the 2018 election campaign. Ford’s Progressive Conservative candidates campaigned to remove the tolls, including future Finance Ministers Peter Bethlenfalvy, MPP Pickering-Uxbridge, and Rod Phillips, the since resigned Ajax MPP, and Ford’s Parliamentary Secretary Whitby MPP Lorne Coe.

However, despite winning a sweeping majority in 2018, the tolls remained in force. Oshawa’s NDP MPP Jennifer French often brought the tolls up in Queen’s Park, but her motions to remove the tolls were always defeated. The last time she tried was in December 2021 when Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney told Question Period the tolls could not be removed due to pre-existing contracts.

Ford then came to Whitby in February 2022 to announce the toll removal from Hwy 412 and its sister road Hwy. 418 in Clarington the following April. At the time Ford said the removal took so long because there were “a lot of issues,” and “some things don’t happen overnight.”

From the 2018 election until the toll removal, commuting on Hwy. 412 twice a day for a five-day work week over four years would have cost a driver more than $16,000.

As such, removing the tolls “has really increased the ability for employment lands along there and their marketability,” Roy said. She added she is frequently in meeting with town staff to figure out new ways to develop the corridor. She called  the land the Town’s “top priority” for future development.

The development is ongoing according to Roy who said, “Once we have the employment-ready lands, we’re offering this up for to I’d  say very big investment in the very short term.”

 

 

 

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