For a number of years, a new 400-series highway in the northwestern portion of the Greater Toronto Area, arcing from Halton Hills to Vaughan, has been proposed. The 59-kilometre project would cross farmland, conservation lands and protected areas but also allow for added commercial, industrial and residential development. While Ontario’s previous Liberal government cancelled the project in 2018, the current Progressive Conservative government resurrected it. Many city and municipal councils along the proposed route have opposed the project, as have environmental and agricultural groups and the provincial NDP, Green and Liberal parties.
Giving us their opinion about Hwy. 413 are Town of Halton Hills and Halton Regional Coun. Jane Fogal, Bill Argeropoulos, director of research at real estate firm Avison Young, and Sarah Buchanan, a climate program manager with the advocacy group Environmental Defence. They tell us whether they think this highway is needed in roughly the time same time it takes to order and pick up from a drive-thru window.
“The 413 represents old school thinking. New highways, minus a toll, lead to induced congestion. It is time to get off that merry-go-round and invest in smarter solutions. For the same $6 billion estimated cost of the project, the GTA could have a first-class regional rail system that would take three times as many vehicles off the roads. Tools like congestion pricing and a dedicated subsidized truck lane on the 407 would immediately improve freight delivery. Congestion can be solved without paving over farmland and wetlands or carving a swath through the Greenbelt and incentivizing sprawl. The GTA deserves better.” – Jane Fogal
“The resurrection of this controversial project highlights the struggle between economic prosperity and environmental sustainability. Spurred by e-commerce and an industrial vacancy under two per cent, the supply-demand imbalance is evident. If we want to live, work, and play in a growing global city, a balanced solution is necessary to preserve irreplaceable farmland. Physical or political land-supply constraints and rising costs will not go away. The compromise is to embrace verticality – achieved through taller industrial buildings or multi-level industrial development – the same way we embraced mixed-use infill development in urban areas, combining residential, office and retail uses under one roof.” - Bill Argeropoulos
“Highway 413 will be an expensive, destructive mistake for the GTA. The Province’s own expert panel declared it a waste of $6 billion. It would only save commuters across the region an average of 30 seconds, while alternatives like better public transit and maximizing use of the mostly empty 407 will move more people and goods for less money. Highway 413 will destroy sensitive wetlands, river valleys, forests, and hundreds of acres of protected Greenbelt lands. Ontario will lose critical farmland to feed our growing population and support local economies. This highway will only benefit wealthy developers who want to unlock more sprawl. - Sarah Buchanan