Cho ‘playing politics’ with Donald Cousens Parkway: opponents

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Councillor Raymond Cho is taking heat from his Ward 42 election opponents for his stance against the Donald Cousens Parkway extension through Scarborough.

It is too late to stop the controversial construction plan and Cho is against it just to curry votes, candidate Namu Ponnambalam said in an interview.

“He is playing politics with it,” Ponnambalam said. “He had many years to engage his community and he failed to do that.”

Cho was unavailable for comment.

Cho has taken a stand against the expressway cutting through Scarborough since its conception in 2003, citing traffic congestion, logistical issues and environmental concerns.

But his concern for the environment on the issue doesn’t match his willingness to build an LRT vehicle storage facility on the boundaries of Rouge Park, candidate Shamoon Poonawala said.

“The same guy who wants to build storage facilities on the Rouge River wants to stop this project,” Poonawala said. “He seems to have confusion in his mind.”

The throughway will actually be beneficial to the environment because fewer cars will use residential streets, he said.

“There are so many cars speeding through Morningside Heights,” Poonawala said. “It will diverge traffic toward the highways instead.”

The project is intended to direct high volumes of traffic in a north-south direction from Hwy. 407 in Markham, through northeast Scarborough to Hwy. 401.

It was halted in 2008 following mediation between the two cities and Markham’s newest environmental assessment will be released before the end of this year.

At a Scarborough meeting in May, Markham representatives met strong opposition from residents of Morningside Heights who were concerned over the amount of traffic that would potentially travel through the highly residential area if the main roads could not handle the estimated 27,000 cars per day.

Markham had proposed a continuous throughway option, which would have had Morningside Avenue connected directly with the Donald Cousens Parkway at Steeles Avenue.

But Toronto was more receptive to a discontinuous plan, which would have traffic move east-west across Steeles Avenue.