Doug Ford bends down on Highway 413: ‘Let’s build this’

Prime Minister Doug Ford insists that 413 is a lucky number.

Doubling down his support for the controversial Highway 413, Ford insists that the 60 km project for the greater Toronto area is badly needed even though most of the affected city councils oppose it.

At a campaign-style stop in Caledon on Wednesday to promote the proposed Milton-to-Vaughan highway, he dismissed critics as downtown Toronto ideologues.

“Unfortunately, people in this area don’t have the bikes that downtown people have, so they can get on a bike and drive from point A to point B much faster,” Ford said.

“Just sitting there and telling people, ‘Get on your bike or get behind a horse and buggy and start driving,’ is not enough,” the prime minister said.

“That’s the ideology of a lot of people in downtown Toronto who make their comments here in Caledon,” he said.

“I can assure you that the people of Caledon don’t care about the people who live downtown, making their ideological comments about building a road that they will never use. It’s very simple. We are going to build this highway ”.

Hear Robert Benzie talk about the new roads

The previous Liberal government scrapped the road plan that would raze 2,000 acres of farmland, traverse 85 waterways, and pave more than 400 acres of Vaughan Greenbelt land because it would only save commuters 30-60 seconds per trip.

Ford questioned it.

“Right now, more than 300,000 commuters in the York, Peel and Halton regions experience stagnation every day. The construction of Highway 413, a transit corridor and expressways in all regions, will save commuters up to 30 minutes one way and 60 minutes both ways. “

Liberal leader Steven Del Duca, who was Minister of Transportation when Highway 413 was originally cut, said “Doug Ford’s road to ruin is paved with bad intentions.”

“Highway 413 will not provide Ontario families the relief they need. But it will pave the green belt and destroy farmland, while helping Ford’s wealthy friends get rich, ”Del Duca said.

“It is the wrong project for the wrong reasons being pushed by the wrong prime minister. Ontario Liberals will cancel Highway 413 and reinvest the money saved in schools and public transportation. “

The progressive Conservative government has not disclosed the price of the highway, which would run from Highway 401 in Milton to Highway 400 in Vaughan.

Conservatives have also not said what the 10-mile Bradford Bypass, which links Highways 400 and 404, would cost.

No highway will have a toll like the 407 highway, so taxpayers will pay the bill.

The respected forensic accountant Charles Smedmor has calculated that Highway 413 would cost $ 8.2 billion, while the Bradford Highway would cost $ 2.2 billion “based on previous estimates, costs per kilometer of highway and five percent annual construction inflation.”

Transport Minister Caroline Mulroney declined to be specific when pressured Wednesday.

“We are moving forward with the procurement process and to ensure the best price for Ontario taxpayers, we want the acquisitions to be as competitive as possible,” Mulroney said.

“So we’re going to let the market determine what that cost will be, but we want a competitive procurement process to guarantee the best price,” he said.

Also on Wednesday, NDP MPP Catherine Fife (Waterloo) asked the auditor general to investigate the actual cost.

“This week, the Prime Minister announced that the people of Ontario would be committed to two highway projects, Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass, but he refused to release total cost estimates or budgets for either,” Fife said in a letter to Bonnie Lysyk. citing Smedmor estimates.

“An independent forensic accountant recently suggested that the total cost of the two projects would be more than $ 10 billion, which the province has not committed to spending either in its spring budget or in the recently released fall economic statement,” wrote.

“I am writing to request that your office conduct a complete review of the planning and procurement processes for Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass project to determine the total estimated costs of these projects.”

Green leader Mike Schreiner, meanwhile, implored Ford to “stop favoring your friends with a lot of money and instead provide transit solutions that will truly build the communities we all love.”

Robert Benzie is the bureau chief for Star’s Queen’s Park and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie


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