Small, but mighty – the Redside Dace has the potential to stop Premier Ford’s bulldozers in their tracks. 

The colourful minnow is endangered both provincially and federally and only lives in Southern Ontario with almost 90 per cent of the species living in rivers and streams in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). 

The number one threat to the Redside Dace’s crucial survival? Increased urbanization by their habitats of slow-moving coldwater rivers and streams.

The species primarily feeds on insects, such as flies and mosquitoes, providing a crucial role in ecosystems by managing insect populations. This means, if redside dace populations continue to decline we will see more and more mosquitoes.  

What threatens the Redside Dace? 

Historically, the Redside Dace has been found throughout the GTA’s watersheds. Now, their habitat is limited to the headwaters of some local streams and rivers. The decline in populations is heavily linked to habitat loss caused by urban development. Increasing development can change rivers and streams so much in terms of flow, and temperature, that they become uninhabitable for the Dace. In fact,the excessive amounts of salt draining into waterways from nearby roads  can turn cool, freshwater streams and rivers completely inhospitable to many fish. Redside dace are extremely sensitive species so even the slightest change in their habitat could cause devastating impacts to whole populations. 

hwy 413 map brampton nobleton kleinburg caledon vaughan missisauga toronto gta west greenbelt 407
Highway 413 proposed route map

While it might seem like just another highway, the proposed Highway 413 will be the tipping point for redside dace in Canada. If constructed, the highway will destroy over 65 per cent of redside dace habitat. Instead of fighting for the Dace’s protection, Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment Conservation and Parks (MECP) has proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that puts their survival at risk by prioritizing and speeding up development projects without critical environmental precautions.

Why you should care

Biodiversity levels are dropping at an alarming rate due to unsustainable human activity. Everything in the natural world is connected, so losing even one species can lead to the decline of others and impact whole ecosystems. Don’t forget, ecosystems provide the very building blocks that sustain us too: clean air, fresh water and food production. 

Imagine the concept of biodiversity and ecosystems as a large intricate quilt – each species being represented by a single thread. If a loose thread is completely pulled, the entire quilt will be damaged. When we lose even the smallest of species, entire ecosystems will suffer.


Although the Redside Dace is a tiny, seemingly insignificant minnow, its presence indicates a healthy stream and surrounding environment. The decline of the Redside Dace demonstrates a much broader concern surrounding the health of local waterways and the quality of the environment in Southern Ontario.

Our only hope in saving the Redside Dace is to cancel Highway 413 and enforce better protection for vulnerable species. The Ontario government must prioritize protection over unnecessary development projects in order to do their part to halt and reverse the global biodiversity crisis. 

In recognition of Endangered Species Day, join us in our fight to Save the Dace!

Take action

Tell the Ministry of Environment Conservation and Parks to prioritize the recovery and protection of the Redside Dace and other species at risk over harmful development projects.  

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