You’ve probably seen Highway 413 in the news quite a bit lately. Last month, instead of standing up for Ontario’s environment, the federal government made a deal with Premier Ford. Together, they filed documents to cancel the federal government’s current environmental assessment.

So, what does this mean? Is Ontario getting ready to bulldoze their way through farmland, wetlands and the Greenbelt?

The short answer is no. Below are a few tools still in play to stop the destructive Highway 413 project.

Take action and tell your local MP to stop Highway 413!

A New Impact Assessment

We strongly disagreed with the federal government’s decision to not go to court to defend the the 413’s designation. This doesn’t change the fact that the federal government can still fix the Impact Assessment Act and re-designate Highway 413 for new assessment. They’ve promised to bring forward changes and update the Act this spring. It’s imperative that they draft the Act in a way that allow for a re-designation of Highway 413. We hope and expect to see a new designation brought forward as soon as the new Impact Assessment Act is in place in fall 2024.

Federal Values

Highway 413 poses significant risks to several federally protected values, such as Indigenous rights, species-at-risk and fish habitats. Indigenous consultation is required as the proposed highway will impact several archeological sites belonging to the Indigenous people of the region.

There are 29 federally listed species-at-risk that are found where the 413 would be built. Several of these, including the Redside Dace, Red-headed woodpecker and Western Chorus frog, are endangered. Both the federal Fisheries Act and Species at Risk Act mandate the protection of these species.

The provincial government must acquire permits under several federal acts before proceeding with highway construction, and it’s evident that many of these permits should not be granted due to the significant impacts expected. We all need to make sure our federal MPs are paying attention to these issues.

Ontario Environmental Assessment Process

If highway 413 moves forward, it’ll be under the Ontario Class Environmental Assessment process. But, the provincial government is doing away with designation in favour of a new “streamlined” environmental assessment process. There are any details on what this will look like, so we don’t know what the timelines or process requirements of this new system will be. Once we know the details, we’ll have a better sense of opportunities for public engagement and involvement. The provincial government and its MPPs must be held to account for this process.

Concerned Ontarians

The people of Ontario do not want this destructive highway and the data highlights that. There are better options available that would help solve traffic problems (like moving trucks to the underused 407), result in more affordable homes built faster and protect the incredible ecological and economic values in Halton, Peel and York regions that would be destroyed forever by this Highway. The decision to stop this highway has been made before and it can be made again. We can make that happen.

The Work Ahead

There are still a lot of steps that need to be taken to get the approvals necessary to build Highway 413. We must all work together to make any other decision than stopping this highway impossible for both the federal and provincial governments.

Take action and tell your local MP to stand up to Ontario in court!