Highway 413 will be a ‘climate disaster’ for Ontario, warns green leader

Warning that the proposed 413 freeway is “a climate disaster,” environmental leader Mike Schreiner is urging progressive conservatives under Prime Minister Doug Ford not to pave farmland for a highway.

“Overloading expansion and building roads to pave paradise to build a linear parking lot … threatens our jobs, our economy, our food security, and our efforts to reduce climate pollution,” Schreiner said, citing Joni Mitchell’s environmental anthem of 1970 “Big yellow cab. “

In Thursday’s legislature, Schreiner reminded conservatives how much pollution the proposed 60-kilometer highway linking Milton and Vaughan would spew out.

“Highway 413 alone will unleash 17.4 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions between now and 2050,” the green leader said, citing an April study by Environmental Defense.

“That’s more pollution than the city of Toronto produced in 2018. It will cause up to $ 1.4 billion in cumulative damage from air pollution alone. All this damage for what? To save people 30 seconds ”of travel time.

In the absence of Prime Minister Doug Ford from the House, House Leader Paul Calandra defended the Conservatives’ environmental record.

“We know how important agriculture is to the province of Ontario. It was a progressive conservative government that introduced the Oak Ridges moraine, ”Calandra said, referring to the strip of protected land that the previous liberal government expanded into the green belt in 2005.

Deputy Minister of Transportation Stan Cho noted that the same liberal administration “paved the green belt, 330 hectares in fact, and it was … farmland, green space and wetlands that we lost under that government.”

“This administration believes in doing something different,” he said, noting Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark’s push to expand the green belt.

But Cho said population growth means roads and public transportation must be built.

“We have to look ahead to make sure we invest in roads.”

Along with Highway 413, which is opposed by local municipalities, Conservatives are proponents of the Bradford Bypass proposal, which enjoys much more local support.

That 16.2 km highway, connecting Highway 400 and Highway 404, would cross 27 waterways and traverse environmentally sensitive Holland Marsh lands.

NDP MPP Catherine Fife (Waterloo) suggested that Ford is helping “their friends” who want projects like Highway 413 built.

“Municipalities have said they don’t want it, but we also know that developers have this prime minister’s ear,” Fife said.

“Highway 413 is a huge waste of taxpayer money. It is a slap in the face for the citizens of this province when we know that it goes from the door of one developer to the door of another developer, ”he said.

Liberal House leader John Fraser said conservatives clearly “believe that it will win them votes” in the June 2 election.

“I disagree. I think families want us to address climate change. They don’t want us to spend … $ 8 billion on a new highway that we could invest in our schools,” Fraser said.

The Environmental Defense report released last April, titled “Paving Paradise: Highway 413’s Impact on Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Air Pollution, and Expansion,” predicted other side effects of the project.

He said the road could lead to an increase in pollution-related illnesses such as asthma and cancer, as well as crop losses for farmers.

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


The conversations are the opinions of our readers and are subject to the Code of conduct. The Star does not endorse these views.


Leave a Comment