Provincial and Federal Collaboration Propels Highway 413 Project Forward

Team Parvasi – Inside

In a significant stride towards advancing Premier Doug Ford’s ambitious Highway 413 project, a groundbreaking agreement has been reached between the provincial and federal governments. This landmark agreement establishes a joint working group dedicated to mitigating environmental impacts, marking a pivotal moment in the project’s progression.

The announcement, made on Monday via an official statement, underscores the commitment of both levels of government to embark on a collaborative process aimed at assessing and managing issues surrounding federally designated species at risk within the scope of Ontario’s planning for the project. Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault lauded the agreement as a testament to the collaborative spirit between Canada and Ontario, emphasizing their shared responsibility for environmental matters.

Guilbeault further elaborated, stating, “This memorandum of understanding ensures federal interests remain safeguarded regarding species protection, while also providing Ontario with enhanced clarity following the recent Supreme Court decision regarding the review process for the Highway 413 Project.”

The memorandum of understanding follows years of deliberation and negotiation between the provincial and federal authorities concerning the Highway 413 initiative—an integral component of Premier Ford’s electoral agenda, aiming to establish a six-lane, 52-kilometre thoroughfare linking Halton and York regions.

However, the project has faced criticism from environmental advocates and local farmers, who argue that it poses a threat to vital land and business interests. A 2022 report by Environment Defence highlighted the potential impact on at least 29 federally identified species at risk, alongside the projected disruption to over 100 streams and rivers, and the loss of approximately 400 acres of Greenbelt land.

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In May 2021, the federal government invoked the Impact Assessment Act to evaluate the highway’s environmental ramifications. Subsequently, following a Supreme Court ruling deeming the Act unconstitutional, both levels of government engaged in legal battles concerning Highway 413 and Ontario Place. However, in March 2024, a joint consent order was reached to resolve the court dispute, leading to the suspension of the project’s designation under the Impact Assessment Act.

Looking ahead, Transportation Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria expressed optimism, stating, “In the coming months, we will progress with procurement to commence construction on key interchanges, bringing us closer to realizing this vital infrastructure project.”

The collaborative efforts between the provincial and federal governments entail the creation of a joint working group tasked with recommending measures to minimize environmental impacts within areas falling under federal jurisdiction. Officials emphasized the group’s role in leveraging collective expertise to safeguard species at risk and their habitats, such as the Western chorus frog and the red-headed woodpecker, during the project’s detailed design phase.

While the project remains subject to Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Act and various provincial and federal regulations, including the Fisheries Act, the Migratory Birds Convention Act, and the Species at Risk Act, this collaborative agreement marks a significant step forward in balancing infrastructure development with environmental stewardship.

Ajay Kumar


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