Province Cancels Plans for New Highway Running Through Halton

It looks like a much vaunted new provincial highway for GTA automobile users, an infrastructure project that has been on the books for a decade, will not be built after all.

The Ontario government announced that it is not proceeding with what had been dubbed the GTA West Highway, aka Highway 413. The intensification study was launched back in December and at the time, the government determined that:

Based on the expected growth and infrastructure need in the area, the continued protection of a corridor is needed to ensure that the ongoing urbanization of the northwest GTA does not impede future infrastructure, such as utilities, transit or other transportation options, that will be needed to support this growth.”

As you can see from this map, Highway 413 would have run from Vaughan out in York Region, through Caledon and parts of Brampton, and out into Halton Region.The province began conducting an Environmental Assessment (EA) in 2007, all the while freezing property development for landowners and businesses.

The province also reiterated that this decision was based off the recommendations of the GTA West Advisory Panel, and the transportation needs of the corridor will be evaluated from a regional perspective through the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) Transportation Plan. Also, considerations will be made to incorporate new and emerging transportation technologies into future projects.

Naturally, this decision did not sit well with a number of people, especially the local provincial MPP who represents Caledon (the primary area where Highway 413 would have gone through). Sylvia Jones is the Conservative MPP for Dufferin-Caledon and her party’s Critic for Infrastructure, and she blasted the Wynne government in a press release of her own for wasting $14 million on the EA.

Kathleen Wynne’s decision is disappointing. The Ontario PCs believe that the GTA West Corridor is a project that deserves a complete environmental study. Congestion will cost the GTA $7 billion a year by 2031, according to Metrolinx,” Jones added.

You can read the GTA West Advisory Panels’ full report here.

Being that this is the same Ontario Liberal Party that was embroiled in the infamous ‘gas-plant’ scandal where they cancelled the construction of a gas power plant in the middle of the 2011 election campaign, this latest development does have the whiff of desperation around it as a June provincial election gets closer and closer.

But unlike the gas plant cancellation, which was allegedly done to save some Liberal-held ridings in Mississauga, Etobicoke and Oakville, the cancellation of Highway 413 was decided before construction had even begun. Also, the proposed route ran through a riding which has been in Tory hands since 1990, so there was little to gain politically by cancelling such a massive infrastructure project.

For commuters, this would have provided a third alternative to using Highway 401, or the tolled Highway 407. The only inside baseball political reason that can be ascertained is that the former Transportation Minister, Steven Del Duca, represents Vaughan in the Ontario Legislature, and the highway would have greatly benefited his car-using constituents.

Now that he’s not in that portfolio anymore, perhaps the government decided it was no longer a political priority.

Do you agree with the Ontario government’s decision to cancel building this new highway?

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