413 highway ontario

Here's everything Doug Ford's controversial Highway 413 will destroy

Ontario's provincial election is just days away and, if reelected, one of the PC Party's main promises is to build the highly controversial Highway 413.

Environmental advocates, residents and politicians have been sounding the alarm about the many negative consequences of the new highway since it was first announced, and many are growing increasingly worried in light of the fact that Doug Ford's party is currently leading by a wide enough margin to win another majority government.

If built, the new highway, also known as the GTA West Corridor, would connect Milton and Vaughan. But according to climate change group Environmental Defence, it would also add over 17 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, leading to $1.4 billion in damages from pollution at a time when reducing emissions has never been more critical. 

It would be 59 km long and pave over 400 acres of the Greenbelt, the group warns, as well as 2,000 acres of Class 1 and Class 2 farmland.

Highway 413 could also destroy important archaeological sites, as the project passes through land that has long been inhabited by the Huron-Wendat, according to the group, and it would bisect the sensitive headwaters of four watersheds within Mississauga of the Credit First Nation's territory and impact their physical and cultural heritage, including ceremonial sites, burial sites and the cultural landscape.

One Ontarian and self-proclaimed outdoor enthusiast recently visited the Nashville Conservation Reserve near Kleinberg, an area through which the highway would run, and she posted a Twitter thread about all that would be lost if the project were to be realized.

This includes 1,000 hectares of farmland and 75 wetlands "that are critical to the ecological health of our rivers," Katie Babcock wrote.

It would also endanger 29 at-risk species, she added, and over 100 protected species of birds.

The bank swallow, western chorus frog, red-headed woodpecker, eastern ribbonsnake, eastern musk turtle and monarch butterfly are just some of the species that would be impacted. 

And while the negative effects of the potential highway are well-documented, the positives are not. Although Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney has said the highway will reduce pollution by preventing emissions from idling cars, research disproves this claim. 

In fact, an expert panel study found Highway 413 would only save drivers in the region roughly 30 to 60 seconds per trip, and research has long shown that building new highways usually does nothing to relieve congestion over time.

Not to mention that the project would cost taxpayers billions, greatly reducing the money available to invest in crucial public transit.

Three out of four major parties have committed to cancelling the project if elected, but the PC Party has vowed to go ahead with it despite ample evidence that it will do more harm than good.

"All large projects need to evaluate negative impacts versus benefits," reads an Environmental Defence report on the proposed highway.

"A highway of this magnitude will cause significant and irreversible harm to the environment in an area that is already under significant development pressure."

Lead photo by

Danielle Scott

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