Ford’s way or the highway: Proposed 413 roadway sparks debate at Queen’s Park

By Lucas Casaletto

The proposed Highway 413 inspired a back-and-forth debate at Queen’s Park on Thursday as Premier Doug Ford strongly supports the idea of a new roadway that will “drastically improve the commute of thousands of Ontarians.”

The proposed highway would cost $6 billion and connect Highway 400 with Highway 401/407 interchange – a roughly 60-kilometre route connecting Milton from Highway 401 to Highway 400 in Vaughan.

“Highway 413 alone will unleash 17.4 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions between now and 2050,” argued Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner. “That is more pollution than the City of Toronto produced in 2018. All of this damage for what? To save people 30 seconds.”

On Wednesday, Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy hinted at progress on the proposed Highway 413, saying that the upcoming November 4 budget could include some detailed plans on the Bradford bypass. Bethlenfalvy says it will look to the future, including building roads, transit and broadband.

The economic outlook and fiscal review will also update the province’s finances, such as its deficit projections.

“It takes a decade … to build highways,” said Bethlenfalvy. “We’ll go through the process to build highways in this province, but it’s absolutely critical that we build.”

Schreiner and the Green’s have been vocal in their disapproval of the proposed highway. On Monday, Schreiner issued a statement calling on Ford to cancel the proposal, saying Highway 413 will pave over 2,000 acres of farmland “at a time when food security is more important than ever.”

“Spending up to $10 billion on a highway that will save commuters just 30 seconds and will destroy farmland and increase emissions makes zero sense,” Schreiner wrote. “Paving over farmland threatens the more than 800,000 jobs in the food and farming sector and the over $50 billion it contributes to our economy.”

Conservative MPP Stan Cho (Willowdale) defended Ford’s ambitions on Highway 413, saying Ontario “needs to expand for the future,” pointing to a rapidly growing population.

With files from Richard Southern of CityNews 680 and The Canadian Press

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