Statement from Phil Pothen, Land Use and Land Development program manager

Toronto | Traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabeg, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat – In November 2022, Ontario Premier Doug Ford claimed that sprawl construction would be in progress on the Greenbelt by the end of 2023. Developers tried to evict tenants to make way for construction and survey trucks were on the ground in the Duffins Rouge Agricultural Preserve. Ontarians all know how that turned out. Amid multiple investigations, federal intervention and public outrage at the attacks on the Greenbelt for the benefit of a few sprawl developers, the provincial government had to back down and restore Greenbelt protection.

The same pattern is playing out with 413. The Ontario government is working overtime to convince people that this latest plan to cut into the Greenbelt is a done deal. But Highway 413 will not be built by 2025, or at all, as long as the federal government does its job by denying permits to destroy federally protected species at risk and their habitats, by preventing construction close to waterways and by acting quickly to once again designate 413 for a full Impact Assessment under the updated Impact Assessment Act.

It’s not difficult to see why Premier Ford chose today for his press conference.  Today’s proposed updates to the Impact Assessment Act, which were tabled by the federal government as part of its budget implementation law – very clearly restore the power of the federal Minister of Environment, and the federal Cabinet to ensure the impacts of Highway 413 are thoroughly examined – by once again designating 413 for Impact Assessment. The recently signed Memorandum of Understanding between Ontario and Canada plainly preserves the federal government’s right and obligation to impose a new federal assessment as soon as these amendments are passed. The people of Ontario have every reason to expect that Minister Guibeault and the federal government caucus will do exactly that.

ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE ( Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian environmental advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.

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