We are elated to share the News! The federal government has decided to go ahead with an environmental assessment of the controversial GTA West Highway.
Federal Environmental Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said in his statement issued on Monday “after consideration of the available science, evidence and other relevant information gathered by the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC), as well as the agency’s recommendation to designate the GTA West project, I have decided to designate this project under the federal impact assessment process.”
Wilkinson said that the IAAC had identified “clear areas of federal concern related to the project. My decision is based on their finding that this project may cause adverse direct or incidental effects on federally listed species at risk and the uncertainty that officials have brought to my attention around whether these updates can be mitigated through project design or existing mechanisms.”
Wilkinson said that the provincial Ministry of Transportation will be required to submit an initial project description, that once accepted, will begin the planning phase of the assessment process. Ottawa will then have 180 days to consult the province and the public about how to mitigate the highway’s environmental impacts. If concerns remain, a full federal assessment will take another 300 days.
The IACC received more than 1670 comments on the project on its website, and many more through email. Of those received, 90% were opposed to the project.
Congratulations to the members of the public who made their opinions known and even more thanks to the organizations such as Environmental Defence and the Stop Hwy 413 participants who worked so hard to see this federal environment assessment become a reality!
- Feds take charge of environmental assessment for controversial Hwy. 413 (National Observer, May 3, 2021)
- Federal government to carry out environmental assessment of proposed Highway 413 latest on the highway. (Toronto Star, May 3, 2021)
For more information (from the Toronto Star, May 3, 2021):
- Context: The 60-km “413” highway would connect Milton from the 401 to Vaughan, ending at Highway 400, razing 2,000 acres of farmland, cutting across 85 waterways and paving nearly 400 acres of protected Greenbelt land in the process.
- More: A recent Star/National Observer investigation looking at the money, power and influence behind the highway found eight of Ontario’s most powerful land developers own prime real estate near the 413 and stand to benefit significantly if it goes ahead.
- Now what? Once the provincial Ministry of Transportation submits an initial project description, Ottawa will have 180 days to consult the province and the public about how to mitigate the highway’s environmental impacts. If concerns remain, a full federal assessment will take another 300 days.