Who Will Deal with Gridlock Along Hwy 7?

Ward 2 Councillor Carella to Bring Formal Campaign to Federal Government

The issue: CP Rail Bridge

During the recent election campaign, a Ward 2 candidates meeting was held at the Woodbridge Public Library. Five of the six registered Ward candidates attended, including myself. One of the questions posed by the audience was how each of the candidates would deal with gridlock along Highway 7.

When it was my turn to address the question, I said there is only one real issue along Highway 7. That’s the CP Rail Bridge just west of Islington Avenue. The CP Rail Bridge is the reason why the highway narrows from six lanes to four from Kipling Avenue to Bruce Street. As a result, traffic gets jammed up in both directions.

But if that stretch of highway is to be widened to six lanes along the entire stretch, the CP Rail Bridge has to be widened first. So why isn’t the City of Vaughan, the Province of Ontario or York Region forcing the issue — particularly the Region, since Highway 7 is a regional road? In fact, its formal name is Regional Road 7. The reason why none of these levels of government are acting is because they have no control over the railroad. So who does? The federal government, according to our constitution.

If we want to press CP Rail to widen its bridge so that the Region can then widen its highway, pressure must first be applied to the level of government that controls CP Rail.

The solution: a formal petition

And how is that to be done? The simplest and, in fact, formally prescribed route is a petition to the federal government requesting that it force the issue with CP Rail. The problem is that the petition route is a difficult one to pursue as it is not user friendly. For instance, petitioners must formally sign the petition — online signatures are not accepted. In this day and age, that strikes me as unreasonably time consuming.

So when I introduced the proposal at the first Committee of the Whole meeting following the election, I stipulated that:

  1. The City should submit a formal petition (which requires 25 signatures as per the Parliament of Canada)
  2. Then actively seek, by any means possible, the endorsement of the petition from as many people as possible

This additional endorsement will show that people other than the 25 petitioners supports the intent of the petition. This can be done through an email, tweet, Instagram post or whatever it may be. These endorsements will be tallied and any cover letter that accompanies the formal petition will mention the total number of people who have endorsed the petition.

There is an upcoming federal election, which means now is the time to let the federal government know we want something in return for our support. Stay tuned as we roll out this process over the next few months. I will provide you with updates along the way.

Thank you for your support,

Ward 2 Councillor Tony Carella
Twitter: @tonycarella
Sign the online petition at change.org
Campaign hashtag: #WidenCPbridgeNOW



Visit the City of Vaughan’s website at vaughan.ca.

8 thoughts on “Who Will Deal with Gridlock Along Hwy 7?

  1. I support you Tony. At least some one is doing something about this. When is the paper petition coming around? I live in the area and would like to notify people.


  2. Federal rail/road crossing matters are entirely between the responsible road authority, in this case, the Region of York, and the railway, and are regulated by the independent, expert, regulatory body, the Canadian Transportation Agency. CP works with responsible road authorities and complies with all such regulatory matters.


  3. Tony, you made this a priority during the election and you are acting on your promise. Thank you. Let’s rally-up the public and convince our federal rep to start the process.


  4. I DO NOT support this. All this will do is open the door to more condo development along Highway 7 east and west of Islington. You want to stop congestion Mr. Carella? Stop allowing all the condo developments in you Ward that your constituents do not want. I am all for the traffic if it’s a deterrent to more intensification in my neighborhood. At the City committee meetings I have attended, that bridge is our saving grace as an obstacle to further development. Widen the bridge = more condos = more cars on the road …. Your right back where you started.


    • Karen, thank you for your comments and the opportunity to further the discussion on this important issue. I offer the following points in response.

      1. You should understand that the planning process is not entirely in the hands of municipal government. Rather, a number of other parties are involved—including those who propose development projects, local residents and local ratepayer groups who have a chance to voice their views on such proposals, the city’s planning department which reviews proposals and recommends approval or refusal, the Region of York and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority which comment on such proposals, and the province, and the Ontario Municipal Board, which is the ultimate appeal body in respect of any decisions by Vaughan council on such proposals. The OMB makes decisions with respect to development proposal only in light of provincial planning policy and general planning principles.

      2. Provincial policy dictates that major public transportation corridors across the GTA be locations for intensification, which results in increased populations along such corridors, with the expectation that those people will ensure the financial viability of public transportation investments by the province (such as VIVA buses, the Spadina subway extension to Hwy 7, and the future light rail transit along 7). The principal such corridors in Vaughan as identified by the province in the Places to Grow Act are Highway 7 and Yonge Street. Other public transportation corridors are also considered appropriate for intensification, though not to the degree expected along Highway 7 and Yonge Street. In short, the presence of the bridge has not slowed intensification along Highway 7 and will not slow it, as long as provincial policy supports intensification along major corridors.

      3. Though Highway 7 and Yonge (and other corridors) attract local travellers, they are also links between neighbouring municipalities. Just one example are the ZUM buses which indicate that a lot of traffic along Highway 7 is coming from or headed to Brampton, and this goes for other thoroughfares. Note the TTC buses on many north-south corridors in Vaughan.

      4. Given the volume of traffic along Highway 7, including that coming from neighbouring municipalities and beyond, Highway 7 was widened to 6 lanes from 4 some years ago. The presence of the CP bridge, however, precluded the widening of the highway where it approaches the bridge in both directions (i.e., roughly between Kipling and Bruce Street). Given the amount of traffic along 7, whether locally generated or from beyond Vaughan’s boundaries, the bridge causes the bottleneck that slows the traffic beneath it. And this would be the case whether there were any intensification along Highway 7 or not. The bridge is also the reason that the Region’s proposed light rail along 7 will stop at Bruce Street rather than ending at the 427, as effective light rail requires two lanes in either direction for vehicular traffic.

      I trust the foregoing clarifies why I think the widening of the bridge is needed.


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