bradford bypass route

People are now suing the government over a controversial new Ontario highway

Last week, Premier Doug Ford revealed Ontario's extravagant plan for improving transportation around the Golden Horseshoe in the next few decades, which includes a spate of new public transit projects, as well as, more controversially, two new major freeways — one of which people have just launched a lawsuit over.

Residents, politicians and various organizations have long shown their disapproval of the forthcoming Highway 413 and Bradford Bypass, both of which will have huge impacts on surrounding residents, the environment, and the future of gridlock around the GTA. (Many believe it will only make congestion worse).

As the region grows quickly and people continue to be priced out of hubs like Toronto, the highways are meant to better connect various municipalities in the area.

The six-lane 413 will run in a semi-circle from the 401/407 interchange in Mississauga in the west, to Highway 400 near King Road in Vaughan in the east, connecting with the 410 in Brampton along the way.

The 59 km-long route will only save drivers "up to 30 minutes" (if driving the entire length of the highway) while costing billions of dollars and destroying a ton of environmentally-sensitive and protected land in its path — a few of the reasons that there is so much pushback, especially in a time when remote work has become the norm for many.

The Bypass, meanwhile, will run 16.2 km between Highway 400 and Highway 404 north of the city, and has faced similar backlash, up to and including a new lawsuit launched by various groups on Wednesday.

The litigation against Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault, was launched in federal court by seven organizations including Environmental Defence and Ontario Nature, and calls out the politician's decision not to conduct an impact assessment for the new roadway.

"[We've] previously made two requests for a federal impact assessment on the proposed Bradford Bypass, which would cut through the Greenbelt, the Holland Marsh provincially significant wetland, and the headwater rivers at the south end of the Lake Simcoe watershed," the groups write in a release.

"The purpose of the litigation is to hold the federal government accountable for the proper review of the impacts of the proposed highway... the case for building a highway is thin at best and we must better understand the impacts of the project."

Because of Ontario's recent changes to environmental assessment laws and the province's push to get the highway built despite opposition, the groups believe that it falls upon the federal government to properly investigate the potential benefits and consequences before the highway moves ahead.

"For the sake of Canada's environment and the communities dependent on it, we must make sure that destructive projects, such as bulldozing a super-highway through one of Ontario's largest wetlands, receive a proper and thorough review," they write.

The complainants are being represented by Ecojustice, a Canadian law charity known for setting such suits in motion.

Lead photo by

Ken Lund

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