Is 407 ETR a Business Leading the World Out of the Climate Crisis?

At the Climate Summit of the Americas held in Toronto July 7 to 9, 2015 Al Gore is quoted by the Toronto Star as saying, “Fighting climate change will be a boon to the global economy…businesses will lead the world out of the climate crisis.”

Can we really trust business to “do the right thing”? Or are we giving them the moral authority to turn a blind eye to public policy that makes up the fabric of our society?

Investors in 407 ETR have been cashing in on Al Gore’s push to have businesses “lead the world out of a climate crisis”. The company makes unsubstantiated claims that its traffic management system reduces the environmental impact of driving. Governments all around the world are buying into this traffic management scheme.

However, there is enough evidence to suggest an impact study is needed before anyone should buy into this hyperbole.

Some of this evidence can be found in the 2009 “State of the Great Lakes” report, prepared by Environment Canada and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. They looked at population growth and urban sprawl in the Great Lakes basin and noted that it led to an increase in the number of vehicles on the roads, fuel consumption and kilometers spent on the road by residents. Their overall assessment was that the trend was deteriorating road safety and ecological impacts such as climate change and pollution.

The report also noted that vehicle registrations from went from 6,329,052 to 7,854,228 during the period from 1993-2005. The greatest increase occurred in years 1999 and 2000.

407 ETR took the helm at the operations of Highway 407 in the year 1999. There was a 39% increase in vehicle registrations in the Province of Ontario throughout 1999 and 2000! The estimated vehicle kilometers traveled has continued to steadily increase since this report. Despite what Urban Planners dream of… that the trend will be to ditch the car… the cold hard facts say that the trend is that commuting by motor vehicle will increase. As a matter of fact, the United Nations estimates that the transportation and energy sector CO2 emissions are expected to increase by 20% by 2040.

So contrary to 407 ETR’s claims, that their traffic management system reduces the environmental impact of driving, the facts indicate that there is no reduction. If anything there’s enough evidence to suggest that this traffic management scheme not only relies on traffic congestion to be financially viable, but it causes traffic congestion. The only way to know for sure what kind of impact this traffic management scheme has on the environment is to conduct a proper impact study without interference from 407 ETR.

I, for one, am convinced that this traffic management scheme is nothing more than a clever marketing ploy by a large multinational corporation determined to control our very limited road space resources, for profit.

There is not an infinite supply of road space. While I am sure we all want to do our part to “lead the world out of a climate crisis”, handing over our public road space to the private sector for profit is not the answer.

407 ETR is a P3. A P3 is a private, public partnership. You would think that important public policy, like the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and Limitations on how long a business has to take enforcement action on delinquent accounts would take precedent over any private interest in this relationship. But these important public policy issues that make up the fabric of our society are being ignored. As a result, the company is able to rack up thousands and thousands of dollars in interest and fees because they lie in wait for many years before they try to collect on an account they never have to demonstrate lawful charges ever occurred on.

People are losing their livelihoods because of this company’s abuse of power. Why allow companies like 407 ETR operate with a moral authority when they are nothing more than a company whose goal is to profit? Will any political leader ever do their job and rein this company in? Time will tell.

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