Feds, Ford government reach deal to proceed with building controversial Hwy. 413

It looks like the federal Liberals are giving in to the Ford government when it comes to building Highway 413.

Ontario had applied to the Federal Court for a judicial review after the federal government indicated it would use the Impact Assessment Act to keep the province from moving ahead with plans to build the highway.

The Supreme Court of Canada found last October that the law dealing with environmental impacts of major developments is unconstitutional because it regulates activities that fall under provincial purview.

But that was an opinion, rather than a decision, so Ontario officials asked the courts to officially declare the vast majority of the act to be of no force and effect, after the federal minister said he’ll continue to use the law.

Now comes word that a joint application by the federal and provincial governments has been submitted to cancel the environmental assessment for the proposed 52-kilometre highway, which would go from Halton to York regions and connect with highways 401, 407, and 410.

In a statement to CityNews, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation confirmed the two governments have “mutually agreed to resolve this litigation and have asked the federal court to issue a consent judgement,” but offered no other details.

“We’re hoping the federal government doesn’t abandon their responsibility to protect endangered species, will pave over 2,000 acres of prime farmland and 400 acres of the Greenbelt, and cross 85 waterways that are essential to our drinking water in the GTA,” said Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner.

Environmental Defence calls the move a “gross abandonment of federal responsibility to protect the people of Ontario,” and called on the feds to put in place a revised law and commit to re-designating Highway 413 under that new Act.

“Just as the provincial government’s attack on the broader Greenbelt was never about building housing, the proposed Highway 413 is not about addressing traffic congestion. It is simply a $10 billion tax-payer subsidy for the sprawl schemes of well-connected developers,” said Tim Gray, the Executive Director of Environmental Defence.

“It is essential that the federal government fully uses its powers to protect Indigenous rights, fish, migratory birds and species at risk under other legislation now that the designation will be revoked.”

Highway 413 is scheduled to be built at a cost of $10 billion and according to the province will save drivers up to 30 minutes each way on their commute, adding up to one hour per day and five hours per week in people’s schedules.

A map showing the proposed Highway 413. CITYNEWS

Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report

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