in Chatsworth, Grey Highlands, Southgate, West Grey
January 16, 2024
LETTER TO THE EDITOR — The Ford Government rightly backed down last summer from its plans to open the Greenbelt for housing development but the plans to push forward with construction of a four to six lane highway (413) are being expedited. This entails the destruction/loss of 400 acres of endangered species habitat plus 2,000 acres of farmland in the Greenbelt.
Why is it that Highway 413 can be built through the Greenbelt? “Current Greenbelt protection legislation allows for infrastructure (buildings, roads, power facilities, etc.) to be built within the protected zone.” (Environmental Defense)
A field study by biologists K. Heide and Dr. R. Norris of University of Guelph engaged by Environmental Defense identified 29 species at risk in the vicinity of the proposed route of Hwy 413. This route will cross/impact 132 streams and rivers many of which support fish and wildlife. The urban and industrial sprawl that inevitably follows highway construction will result in further fragmentation of natural habitat and wildlife populations along the designated route.
Highway construction and resultant traffic using Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass will impact air quality/public health in communities along the route and is estimated to release more than 17 M tonnes of additional carbon emissions by 2050 (reported by Environmental Defense), the same year that Canada is supposed to achieve net zero. According to the Minister of Transportation appointed Advisory Panel: “concerns about additional greenhouse gas emissions were also raised, in light of the province’s 2016 action plan on climate change.”
The current cost estimate for Highway 413 is said to be between $6 and $10 billion.
And according to a reassessment of GTAW (Greater Toronto Area West Corridor) Transportation Benefits by the aforementioned Advisory Panel: “the Panel concluded that the GTAW Recommended Actions would deliver approximately one minute of travel time savings per vehicular trip across the Greater Golden Horseshoe. On its own, the proposed new GTAW highway corridor would deliver approximately half of those savings, or about 30 seconds per vehicle trip.”
There is a pre-existing highway, the underused 407 located just 15 km south that follows the same east-west path. The Panel advised that adding truck lanes and reducing truck tolls on the 407 would both save travel time and reduce congestion elsewhere: “a slower growth and more compact land use scenario modeled by the Panel resulted on shorter travel times than those delivered by proposed GTAW Highway”.
Why build it? Again, it is the property developers and land speculators who will benefit most from this project.
We are asking
Pursuing the construction of Highway 413 will only cause unnecessary and irreversible destruction and at a great cost when there are other solutions: those that will utilize existing infrastructure, and those that will reduce carbon emissions. Ontarians need leadership that seeks and responds to public input.
Danuta Valleau and Michael McLuhan
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