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My Take: Like Lazarus, highway 413 has risen from the dead, by Roy Merkley

My Take: Like Lazarus, highway 413 has risen from the dead, by Roy Merkley

Some people have called the proposed highway 413 ‘the highway to nowhere’. It would run from the junctions of 401 and 407 in Milton to intersect highway 400 in the municipality of Vaughan.  This project was originally brought to life in 2005, then buried in 2018 by our previous provincial government and now has been resurrected by Doug Ford as a plank in his platform for the upcoming election next spring.

If you cut through all of the usual political rhetoric about jobs created and how many minutes would be saved by commuters, there are some very serious aspects to this proposal that fly in the face of common sense.  On one hand recently in a newsletter from a local MPP this quotation was on the front page. “The government is committed to enhancing and preserving our natural environment. Our rivers and streams are important and protecting the lands around them is vital to our community’s environmental health and well-being.”  On the other hand, we have highway 413 being proposed by Doug Ford that would have permanent detrimental effects on the environment according to this quote. “If built, the road will raze 2,000 acres of farmland, cut across 85 waterways and pave nearly 400 acres of protected Greenbelt land.  It would also disrupt 220 wetlands and the habitats of 10 species-at-risk, according to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.”

The GTA region is one of the most fortunate major urban centers in the world in having the Niagara escarpment and our current greenbelt area that is second to none and is an irreplaceable asset that you could not put a price tag on.  Canada is a country with close to the lowest population density in the world, so why would anyone with common sense put this asset at risk?

Another aspect to this issue is that we already have the underused superhighway 407 that is virtually parallel to the proposed highway 413.  This venture was not one of Ontario’s brightest accomplishments.  The province built highway 407 for 1.5 billion, then they sold it for 3.2 billion, which is now deemed to be a bargain basement price.  Now Doug Ford wants to build a 59 km long highway just north of 407 through our greenbelt for 6 billion or more.  Don’t forget these present highway owners that includes foreign partners, are making a fortune from this toll road that we originally paid 1.5 billion to build.

As is always the case in ventures like this, perception of politics comes into play.  It appears that eight of Ontario’s most powerful land developers own thousands of acres of prime real estate near the proposed route of the controversial highway 413.  Four of the developers are connected to Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government through party officials and former Tory politicians now acting as registered lobbyists.  Is influence coming into play here?  It is hard not to be suspicious.

It may well be that this issue will be solved at the voting booths next spring since the opposition parties claim they will bury it again, so it will be a fight between those who cherish the natural environment and the drivers who want more asphalt under their tires. 

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