The Birth of Highway 407


In the 1950’s, as part of the 400 series highways corridor, identified as Parkway Belt land, property acquisition began. Leslie Frost, 16th Premier of Ontario, from 1949-1961 created the 400 series of highways, most notably was  the Macdonald-Cartier Freeway better known as Highway 401.  The 1950’s saw the birth of Highway 407.  The land was purchased and set aside for Provincial needs in transportation, utilities and recreational purposes.

Bill Davis, Ontario’s 18th Premier from 1971 to 1985 created the Parkway Belt Planning and Development Act, 1973 (now the Ontario Planning and Development Act, 1994).  It was this legislation that would implement  the Parkway Belt Planning and Development Act. The area covered by  the Parkway Belt Planning and Development Act was divided into two general land use categories, the Public Use Area and the Complementary Use Area.

Public Use Areas were defined as areas presently used, or to be predominantly used in the future, for infrastructure and open space related land use. The Public Use Areas consists of areas designated as: Public Open Space and Buffer Area, Utility, Electric Power Facility, Road, and Inter-Urban Transit. Davis administration introduced regional governments for Durham, Hamilton-Wentworth, Haldimand-Norfolk, and Waterloo but shelved further plans in response to popular protests.

Complementary Use Areas were to be predominantly used for private uses that aid in  the Parkway Belt Planning and Development Act’s objective of preserving the country landscape and encouraging land uses such as agricultural, recreational and institutional pursuits that do not require intense urbanization.

It was the 20th Premier of Ontario, David Peterson (1985-1990), that saw Highway 407 become an election issue. 1986 he took a ride in a helicopter to get a bird’s eye view of the 401 parking lot.  Shortly after that he announced the government would precede with Highway 407 between the 410 and Highway 48 a 69 KM section.  A ground-breaking ceremony took place just before the 1987 election.  Not sure where the gold plated shovel is now, but it used to be hung in the Ministry of Transportation’s offices boardroom.

The next few articles will take you through Highway 407’s construction, from Premier Peterson’s ground breaking ceremony to what we have now.

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