Toronto city council votes to oppose provincial plans for Highway 413 in northwest GTA

Toronto city council decided on Wednesday to oppose plans by the province for a new 400-series highway in the northwest portion of the GTA that would cut through York, Peel and Halton regions.

Toronto also backed a request by Environmental Defence for a federal environmental assessment of Highway 413. The four-to-six lane highway is part of what the province calls the GTA West Transportation Corridor.

Council’s 19 to 1 vote means Toronto joins a number of other municipalities in calling on the province to cancel plans for the proposed highway. 

Mississauga, Vaughan, Halton Hills, Halton Region and Orangeville have voted to oppose the highway, while Brampton, Caledon and Peel Region have voted to call for a federal environment assessment.

The province argues the highway is necessary to serve a rapidly growing region, telling CBC News that by 2051, the population of the Greater Golden Horseshoe is expected to hit 14.8 million — and that roads need to keep up. 

But in the motion passed on Wednesday, Toronto city council says of the highway: “Its construction threatens critical agricultural lands, sensitive waterways, protected Greenbelt lands and conservation areas, as well as tens of thousands of jobs and billions in agriculture-related economic activity.”

Highway 413 would run through Vaughan, Caledon, Brampton and Halton Hills, connecting Highway 400 with the Highway 401/407 interchange.

“The proposed Hwy 413 will slash a broad 59 kilometre swath through agricultural, natural heritage and environmentally sensitive lands, crossing 85 streams (10 of which are ecologically high priority), destroying seven entire wood lots including a 5.95 kilometre length of forest, significantly fragmenting valley lands, disrupting 1,000 hectares of land significant to wildlife movement, paving approximately 400 acres of Greenbelt land, and overall laying down 8.8 million square metres of paved surfaces,” the motion reads.

Coun. Mike Layton moved the motion, which was seconded by Coun. Paul Ainslie. It will be forwarded to Ontario Transportation MInister Caroline Mulroney, Ontario Environment Minister Jeff Yurek and federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson.

Meanwhile, Vaughan city council voted on Wednesday as well to reaffirm its decision to withdraw its endorsement of the highway. It also voted to request a federal environmental assessment of the proposed highway and more public consultation by the province about the project.

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