THERE IN AN ISSUE in Ontario that shows the great divide between those who want a new future that moves us away from fossil fuel dependency and those who have yet to get that memo. That issue is Highway 413, a proposed super-highway that will connect Highway 400 north of Toronto to the intersection of the 407 and the 401 at the Mississauga/Brampton border.
What is it? The project is a four to six-lane highway spanning 59 kilometres that would pave over 400 acres of the Greenbelt and over 2,000 acres of Class 1 and Class 2 farmland—among Ontario’s most productive farmland.
It’s not a new idea. It was first considered in 2005, but the idea was eventually killed by former Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government because it was too expensive. Now Doug Ford’s government is bringing it back. If they get elected in a provincial election slated for June 2 of this year.
Proponents of the new road claim that it will save commuters half an hour if they travel the whole route. But many experts doubt this claim for a number of reasons.
First of all, as more traffic goes on any highway it will become more congested and speeds will be reduced. Secondly, most transportation gurus say that building new roads never translates into reduced travel times. They simply encourage more people to live farther away and add more commuters to the bottlenecks at the end.
Opposition is not limited to transportation critics. Many politicians and cities who one would think might benefit from this project are also against Highway 413. They include the City Councils of Mississauga, Halton Hills, Orangeville, Vaughn, and Brampton who have formally voted to oppose this project.
The main reason they have taken this position is because of the strong and loud voices of local citizens and environmentalists who have condemned Highway 413 as a misguided effort that will only increase dependence on cars and contribute more residential sprawl, a process that the 400-series highway have acerbated in recent years.
But the primary concern that dwarfs all others are the environmental consequences of this decision. This new highway would cross the Greenbelt, a zone of protected land ringing around the Greater Toronto Area. Its route would harm 2,000 acres of farmland, cut through 85 waterways, damage 220 wetlands and disrupt the habitats of 10 species-at-risk. Environmental Defense says that by 2050, it will boost vehicle emissions by 700,000 tonnes a year and will have generated a total of $1.4 billion in heath impacts and ecological damage from air pollution alone.
To find out more about the project you can visit Environmental Defense at: https://environmentaldefence.ca/stop-the-413-3/
If you want to do something about it, visit Lead Now who is spearheading a campaign against Highway 413. Thousands have already signed their petition. You can add your name here: https://www.leadnow.ca/highway-413/
And if you live in Ontario, make Highway 413 one of your key voting issues in the June 2 election.
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