About 17,500 people sign a petition to stop Highway 413 in Ontario

Some 17,500 people signed a petition calling on the federal government to step in and stop Ontario’s plan to build Highway 413.

The David Suzuki Foundation first launched a request to halt the proposed highway last year, asking Canada’s Minister for Environment and Climate Change to halt the project.

“The highway has to go through a federal impact assessment, so we’re telling Minister (Steven) Guilbeau: ‘You have to look into this, it’s a serious matter and you have to have a say,'” Gideon Forman, policy analyst at transport from the David Suzuki Foundation, to CTV News Toronto.

“Ontarians love their Greenbelt and don’t want to see a new mega-highway that will destroy part of (it).”

Forman said the foundation has been in contact with the provincial government, but officials have not been receptive to its concerns.

“They insist that we need this road. Well, we disagree. We believe that the road is completely unnecessary and very harmful.

The proposed six-lane, 32-mile highway was a major campaign promise for Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives. His proposal would see the highway travel from Halton to York Region and connect to highways 401, 407, and 410.

The Ontario government has said it will save travelers about 30 minutes in driving time.

Highway 413

Advocates, however, have argued that the government is downplaying the impact the new highway would have on the environment, something Forman agrees with.

He said the highway would destroy hundreds of acres of farmland in southern Ontario and affect multiple animal species.

“It would cross many rivers and that endangers the fish and other animals that live in these river valleys,” he said. “A portion of the highway would go just north of Toronto. There just aren’t many forests and forests and wetlands left north of Toronto. So the idea of ​​paving over them is just ridiculous.”

“The other piece from a directly selfish point of view is that it will cross rivers, like the Humber River and the Credit River, it will enter Lake Ontario, which is the source of our drinking water in Toronto and many other communities.”

A Report published in October 2022 by Canadian environmental advocacy group Environment Defense identifies at least 29 “federally identified endangered species” that will be affected by the highway.

The report also says the proposed highway would cross about 132 streams and rivers, and would result in the loss of about 400 acres of “significant natural areas and/or greenbelt land.”

“Highway 413 would push endangered species in the area even closer to the edge, while we are in the midst of a global biodiversity crisis. Some scientists refer to this period as the sixth great extinction, and Highway 413 would accelerate that,” Keith Brooks, director of environmental advocacy programs, said in a statement. “It’s excessive.”

The government, for its part, has said that the preferred route for the highway was chosen “in part to minimize impacts on the Green Belt.”

In May 2021, the federal government determined that Highway 413 deserved designation under the Impact Assessment Act, legislation that gives them the authority to assess how the project may affect climate change.

A spokesperson for Guilbeault’s office told CTV News Toronto that the Impact Assessment Agency is waiting for the province to submit its description of the highway before beginning its review.

“Throughout the Impact Assessment Process, the agency will collect scientific and indigenous knowledge, and receive feedback from the public and stakeholders,” the spokesperson said.

“At the end of the impact assessment process, the agency will make a recommendation as to whether or not the project should proceed as planned.”

Meanwhile, the Ontario government says it has provided the preliminary description of the project to the federal government and is working on the final submission.

“This is a complex process, and we are working diligently to meet the requirements so that we can meet our plan to build Highway 413 as soon as possible,” Transportation Department spokeswoman Dakota Brasier said. “Throughout the Environmental Assessment, we will continue to develop improvements and mitigations to minimize any potential impacts that are identified for the project.”

Brasier added that Ontarians voted “overwhelmingly in favor of the government’s plan to build critical infrastructure, such as Highway 413.”

It’s not yet clear how much Highway 413 will cost.

An analysis of data from Environics Analytics, held in May prior to the provincial electionsshowed that road-affected trips consist primarily of voters driving above the provincial average of 22,073 kilometers per year.

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