Plan Calls for Cuttting OPP Budget and Raising Speed Limits on Some Highways, including QEW between St. Catharines and Hamilton
A Brief Foreword from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper, followed by News Release from Ontario NDP
Posted May 10th, 2019 on Niagara At Large
As if drivers aren’t whipping along Ontario’s highways fast enough, with hardly a police cruiser in site.
In recent years, I have often had friends from the United States say; “Wow, I drove on your highways from Buffalo to Toronto, and it’s crazy the way you people drive. I don’t know whether I want to do that again.”
That is some of our wild and crazy American neighbours complaining about how fast we drive, to which I find myself agreeing and telling them that I would rather drive the full distance of the New York State Thruway from Buffalo to Albany, than drive for 30 or 40 kilometers on the QEW. It’s not only safer, but there are a hell of a lot more New York State Troopers patrolling the highway to make sure it stays that way.
And now, here goes the Ford’s self-described “Government for the People,” not only proposing to raise speeds on 400 series highways, including the QEW, but proposing to cut tens of millions of dollars annually from the Ontario Provincial Police’s budget at the same time.
The speed limit is already 100 kilometres per hour on the stretch of QEW between St. Catharines and Hamilton, and many dirvers are doing 120 or more with no police in sight. So how fast are they going to drive when it is raised to 110 and there are even fewer cops on the road.
Sounds like a recipe for some pretty spectacular smash-ups – great fodder for television news, courtesy of Ontario’s “Government for the People” and, if Ford has his way in the courts, free of the federal carbon tax.
You can count me out. I think I will do most of my highway driving on the New York State Thruway and Massachusetts Turnpike.
Now here is a News Release on this from the Ontario NDP –
NDP: Ford cutting OPP traffic enforcement while raising speed limits is an unbalanced approach
OSHAWA — The Official Opposition critic for Transportation and Highways, Jennifer French, said the Ford government’s cut to funding for the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), the body responsible for patrolling highway safety, at the same time as Ford launches a pilot project to raise speed limits on sections of Ontario’s 400-series highways and the QEW, raises safety concerns.
According to the government’s own estimates, released Thursday, the Ford Conservatives are slashing over $46 million from the OPP budget, with over $43 million cut from the force’s “Field and Traffic Services.”
“People rely on OPP officers to monitor our highways, and to stop people who drive dangerously and put everyone at risk,” said French.
“With one hand, the Ford government is slashing the OPP budget for highway safety enforcement, and with the other, it is raising speed limits. This is an unbalanced approach.”
French said the NDP wants to hear feedback from police, safety experts, municipal leaders and drivers on the issue of speed limits.
Now here is Niagara West MPP and Ford government member Sam Oosterhoff’s News Release on this. Not surprisingly, there is no mention of the budget cut to the Ontario Provincial Police. That kind of news almost always comes from oppositions parties or citizen groups, or from digging on the part of news reporters –
NIAGARA- The Ontario Government is exploring new ways to improve traffic flow and safety on provincial highways by introducing three speed limit pilots on select highways. At the same time, Ontario’s Government for the people will launch province-wide consultations on how to safely increase highway speeds to align with other provinces, and how people currently drive.
“Results from the pilot and all feedback received during consultations will be carefully considered as a part of the final decision-making process,” said Minister Yurek. “We’re also working with our road safety and enforcement partners.”
“This is an important step in determining best options for traffic control and safety,” said Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara West. “I’m excited that the QEW running through Niagara West will be one of the pilot locations.”
Three sections of highways are planned as pilot locations in Southern Ontario where the highway speed will be posted at 110 km/h starting in mid-September:
- * Highway 402 from London to Sarnia;
- * the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) from St. Catharines to Hamilton; and
- * Highway 417 from Ottawa/Gloucester to Ontario/Quebec border.
The Ministry of Transportation is exploring options for a fourth pilot in Northern Ontario.
“Safety is the government’s number one priority and each pilot location was carefully chosen based on a number of factors, including its ability to accommodate higher speed limits,” said Yurek.
Our government is adding extra safety measures such as increased signage and messaging. We will also protect the safety of drivers by proposing amendments that keep the street-racing penalties at 150 km/h. This means in the speed limit pilot zones, the street-racing penalties will apply at 40 km/h over the posted speed limit, not the usual 50 km/h over.
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