Controversial Highway 413 plays a major part in Doug Ford re-election campaign

Premier Doug Ford is doubling-down on moving ahead with building Highway 413 and its poised to become a major election issue. Mark McAllister speaks with area residents who call the 60km project a waste of money and harmful to the environment.

By Mark McAllister

Building highways has already become a cornerstone in the campaign launched by Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative party ahead of the 2022 Ontario election. Those opposed to projects, like the planned Highway 413 north west of Toronto, are ramping up campaigns of their own.

“The 413 is just a sprawl-inducing scheme,” said Jenni Le Forestier, a resident of Belfountain, a small town north of the proposed route. “Why isn’t Ford listening to the local municipalities that are actually affected along the route of this highway?”

Le Forestier points to the impact on farms where land would need to be expropriated and the natural environment that are considered to be the headwaters that flow into the Greater Toronto Area.

The proposed highway has been estimated to cost at least $6 billion. It would connect Highway 400 with the Highway 401/407 interchange to, a roughly 60-kilometre route connecting Vaughan to Milton.

Highway 413

Proposed Highway 413 route

Advertisements have been launched by the PC party and emails to party supporters have also been sent out touting that they will be “building highways, like Highway 413, so you don’t sit in gridlock.”

“We need more people to get from point A to point B In a much more faster fashion that they can spend time with their families,” said Ford at a recent announcement. “We can transport goods from point A to point B.”

Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner claims the project would pave over 2,000 acres of farmland, parts of the Greenbelt and across 83 waterways.

“Highway 413 is going to be a financial, economic and climate disaster,” said Schreiner. “So for the Premier to double down on it is bad for Ontario.”

Meanwhile, the other proposed infrastructure project from the Ford government has been making headlines about it’s connection to Stan Cho, a PC MPP.

The 16.2 kilometre road would connect Highway 404 to Highway 400 in York Region and Simcoe County.

A Toronto Star investigation revealed the Ministry of Transportation introduced a slight change to the $1.5 billion project so the road won’t cut through a golf course. The course, Silver Lakes Golf and Country Club is co-owned by Cho’s father, who is currently the associate Minister of Transportation, a role he has held since June.

A spokesperson from the Premier’s office has since responded, saying the change in route took place while the previous Liberal government was in power.

The previous Liberal government had studied the possibility of a GTA West highway, where Highway 413 is now planned, but then cancelled the project after a study suggested it should not be built.

“It would be great if all the parties could heed the findings of the expert panel that found this highway will deliver little benefit,” said Keith Brooks, the program director at Environmental Defence. “That it would cost billions of dollars and maybe save people 30 to 60 seconds on the road trip.”

Ford has insisted that the time saved would be 30 minutes to travel the entire route.

With files from Meredith Bond


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