The destructive and unnecessary Highway 413 is back.
The proposed highway would make its way from Milton to Vaughan through farms, forests and a portion of the Greenbelt. A government-appointed expert panel concluded that the province should NOT build the highway because it would do almost nothing to improve commute times while causing irreversible environmental damage. Despite this, the Ontario government is moving ahead with Highway 413, also known as the GTA West highway.
Let’s take a closer look at the damage to farms, forests and the Greenbelt this highway would cause, if it gets built.
Loss of prime farmland
The Greater Golden Horseshoe contains some of Canada’s best and fastest disappearing prime farmland. As the region’s population increases, we need to preserve as much of this farmland as possible to help feed the region. Building Highway 413 will pave over a couple thousand hectares of that precious farmland. The highway will also encourage more sprawling sub-division growth nearby. Sprawl is much more inefficient and takes up a lot more land compared to compact growth in existing build up areas.
Loss of forested areas
Forests play an important role in providing habitat for wildlife, including endangered species, and in fighting climate change. We need more forests, not fewer as they disappear under pavement. Highway 413 would cut through the best remaining forested areas in Vaughan such as the Nashville Tract and its popular walking paths.
Paving a portion of the protected Greenbelt
Ontarians love the Greenbelt. At over 2 million acres, the Greenbelt protects environmentally sensitive natural areas and productive farmland from urban development. In exchange, the Greenbelt provides fresh air, clean water, local food and a thriving economy. Highway 413 would pave over a section of the Greenbelt.
Degrading the headwaters of the Credit and Humber Rivers
Highway 413’s route takes it over the headwaters of both the Credit and Humber Rivers. The pollution from building the highway and the pollution from the cars and trucks that use it will degrade the headwaters of rivers. This lowers the water quality further downstream, impacting drinking water, animals, and recreation users. Water also runs off pavement and can’t seep through it. This means our increasingly violent rain storms will result in more flooding in these watersheds.
Highway 413 should not be built. As the expert panel concluded, building the highway will do little to improve commute times in the region (less than one minute per trip) while causing significant environmental damage. They also outlined alternatives that would address traffic in the reason that should be considered. Let’s not pave over paradise.