Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson
Minister of Environment and Climate Change
MP North Vancouver
Re: GTA West Highway (413)
The Federation of North Toronto Residents’ Associations (FoNTRA), represents 30+ residents’ associations with thousands of members in the Midtown Toronto, North Toronto, and North York areas. Resident associations in turn are engaged with their municipal governments in land use planning and development, and advocacy regarding policy and priority setting re service provision, and revenues. FoNTRA believes that sustainable urban regions are characterized by environmental balance, fiscal viability, infrastructure investment, and social renewal.
FoNTRA has serious concerns with the Ontario government’s plans to exempt the GTA West highway from a full and thorough environmental assessment, and instead move to a streamlined assessment. This highway represents the start of what is in essence a whole new 400 series highway system north of Toronto, and requires a thorough and complete environmental assessment to determine its true impacts.
Our concerns may be summarized as follows:
- The highway, if built, would encourage and facilitate an unprecedented level of urban sprawl in the GTA, which would destroy important green spaces and prime farmland.
- The cost to taxpayers is significant, which will be borne by the Provincial Government alone (the Federal Government has indicated it will NOT cost-share).
- People who live along the highway route will suffer health impacts.
- Commuters will see little to no benefit from these highways. And in any case the pandemic has drastically changed our commuting patterns.
- The Provincial government has failed to consider alternatives, which include forcing the owners of Highway 407 to lower the highway toll rates for trucks so that trucks will no longer avoid Highway 407.
An initiative with an impact of this magnitude deserves a thorough environmental assessment, both in terms of local impact and in terms of its consistency with federal environmental targets. We urge that the Federal Government take immediate steps to conduct an Environmental Assessment of the proposed highway and its alternatives.
cc: Honourable Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transportation, MP Mississauga Centre
Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Finance. MP, MP University-Rosedale
Honourable Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, MP Eglinton-Lawrence
Rob Oliphant, MP Don Valley West
Ali Ehsassi, MP Willowdale
Carolyn Bennett, MP Toronto St Paul’s
Marci Ien, MP Toronto Centre
Han Dong, MP Don Valley North
Impact Assessment Agency of Canada