Canada and Ontario to collaborate on Highway 413 construction project

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

The federal and provincial governments have signed a joint agreement that will allow Ontario to begin working to build Highway 413 from Milton to Vaughan, after a years-long battle over environmental assessments related to the project.

The federal government has relinquished control and filed a joint application with the province to have a federal court judge ratify the agreement after stalling the project in 2021.

“Today’s announced agreement provides Ontario the certainty we need to move forward with Highway 413,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, minister of transportation. “In the coming months, we will move ahead with procurement to get shovels in the ground on key interchanges of the project, bringing us one step closer to getting it done.

“Our province is in the middle of a period of unprecedented growth, with gridlock costing our economy upwards of $11 billion every year and we need our infrastructure to keep up. It’s never been more important to build roads, bridges, and highways that drivers rely on.”

An agreement was formalized through a Memorandum of Understanding signed by Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation and the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada. The joint working group will provide recommendations on measures to minimize environmental impacts in areas of federal environmental jurisdiction, complementing the province’s existing environmental assessment process.

The collaboration follows the Supreme Court of Canada’s October 2023 opinion that the Impact Assessment Act must focus on areas of federal jurisdiction, affirming the environment as a shared jurisdiction between the provincial and federal governments. Since the decision, the Government of Canada has committed to updating the Impact Assessment Act in Spring 2024 and released interim guidance indicating no decisions to designate projects will be taken.

The joint working group will consider impacts on species at risk such as the Western chorus frog and the red-headed woodpecker, ensuring their critical habitats are considered before the project moves into the detailed design stage.

The proposed 52-kilometre Highway 413 and transitway will extend from Highway 400 (between Kirby Road and King-Vaughan Road) in the east to the Highway 401/407 ETR interchange area in the west, connecting the regions of York, Peel, and Halton. The project includes a 4 km extension to Highway 410 and a 3 km extension to Highway 427 for a total of 59 km for the corridor.

The highway would have 11 interchanges at municipal roads and features such as electric charging stations, service centres, carpool lots and truck inspection stations will all be explored as part of the design.

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