Highway 413 will harm the environment and not help people, organization says

Mar 25, 2024 | Canadian News, News

Last week, the federal and provincial governments applied to the Federal Court to cancel an environmental impact assessment of Highway 413.

This move has renewed backlash from environmental advocates, while the trucking industry continues to support the highway.

Environmental Defense, a Canadian environmental advocacy organization, said in a statement released Thursday the federal government should revise the Impact Assessment Act to include the project.

“The federal government has done this even though it has not yet put in place a revised law or committed to a new designation, representing a gross abandonment of federal responsibility to protect the people of Ontario and an acceleration of ongoing attacks on our shared future by the provincial government,” the statement said.

They also said the federal government has a responsibility to protect wildlife, and that the provincial government can’t move forward with the project “without seeking other federal approvals for harm to.federally protected wildlife.”

The organization said the new highway would go over 85 rivers and streams, and would stipulate a large bridge over the Humber River, and would cause pollution and destruction of fish habitat. Also, Highway 413 would harm a number of endangered species through habitat destruction.

In addition, the new highway would eat up 400 acres of the Greenbelt, and more than 2,000 acres of the province’s most productive farmland.

“Highway 413 is the bulldozer front of farm-eating, nature-killing, climate-warming, developer-enriching sprawl that would cost Ontarians billions. Much better city-building and transportation alternatives are at our fingertips,” said Tim Gray, Executive Director, Environmental Defence, in the release.

Transport Action Ontario said in February 2023 that different transit lines could be constructed at the then estimated $8-billion cost of the highway, but could carry approximately four times as many people per hour.

Also, making a toll subsidy for trucks on Highway 407 would be more cost-effective for moving cargo than the new highway.

Environmental Defence also reported in their Thursday release that the government’s claim the highway will save drivers 30 minutes is false, and that on average in the region, it would save them less than a minute.

The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) is in favour of the Highway 413 project because they said it would relieve Highway 401 congestion, get goods to central and Northern Ontario faster, and provide the infrastructure necessary to support the transport and logistics hubs in the northwest Greater Toronto Area (GTA), “the epicentre of Canada’s supply chain.”

“Highway 413 is not only a fundamental piece of infrastructure, but also a key part of Ontario’s success in the future, which will result in increased investment to Ontario, including many regions currently being underserved, for decades to come,” said Geoff Wood, OTA’s Sr. VP Policy.

Ministry of Transportation spokesperson Dakota Brasier said in a statement “the need for Highway 413 was identified over 30 years ago, and it is our government that is finally delivering it.”