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Ontario Auditor General’s report highlights “reprioritization” of highway projects

Ontario’s Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk Photo: Office of the AG

Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk released Ontario’s 2022 report on November 30, making special note of highway building funds which were apparently re-prioritized by the Minister’s office.

The Attorney General’s 2022 audit found the Transportation Ministry deferred six projects in 2019 and funnelled the money to four highway projects as directed by the minister’s office — “even though these projects were ranked as a lower priority by the ministry’s technical and engineering staff” the report illustrates in Figure 12a, “Expansion Prioritization Framework.”

In the November 30 press release under “Highway Planning and Management,” the audit found that at the direction of the Minister of Transportation’s Office in 2019, the Ministry prioritized the construction of four lower-ranked highway projects, resulting in the deferral of higher-ranked projects “inconsistent with the recommendations” of its own experts.

Some highway projects were re-prioritized to access funding originally allocated to other areas. Image: 2022 Auditor General’s report

“We also found that two of the six deferred projects approved for construction involved widening and repaving in Ontario’s Northwest Region (the two Highway 11/17 projects described in Figure 12a). The deferral of these two projects resulted in $158 million intended for Northern Ontario highway projects to be re-allocated to southern Ontario highway projects,” the report states.

However, one of the reprioritizations, which focuses on widening Highway 17 from Kenora to the Manitoba border, is supported bythe group “Highways 11 and 17 kill People”  which has been advocating for vastly improved road conditions in Ontario’s north. The group’s petition has received more than 16,000 signatures to date.

Travis McDougall  of Truckers for Safer Highways told Road Warrior News that two of the highlighted projects will be extremely helpful to Truckers looking to avoid the snarl of Toronto traffic.

“For everyone driving from the States to Canada, coming from Windsor, Sarnia or Buffalo, the new Highway 413 and Bradford By-pass will save hours. Everyone will get off there and by-pass Toronto traffic completely; that will be a giant improvement when it is completed,” McDougall says.