Deputation to York Region Council re Highway 413

Feb 19, 2021

CCKT is opposed to the construction of Highway 413 which would pave over 800 hectares of farmland, cut across 85 waterways, and pave some 160 hectares of protected Greenbelt land. Following is a deputation that CCKT board member Sherry Draisey made to the York Region Council on February 11th.

February 11, 2021
Re: Agenda Item D1.1: Greater Toronto Area West Transportation Corridor Update
To: Chair Emmerson and Members of York Region Council,

Please rethink the GTA West. There is a chance to change your mind.

While there may be some benefit to Vaughan in having the GTA West cross through, its not obvious to me what that is.  The negative impacts on King seem substantially more than any benefit.

It is clear that York Region has made a valiant effort to make GTA West useful. The York GTA West Corridor update suggestion of an interchange at Pine Valley is very sensible and offers the opportunity to fix the death trap that exists at King-Vaughan Line, Pine Valley and Mill Road.  But the suggested increase in speed limits and widening of 400 series access roads doesn’t make as much sense. Chews up a bit more farmland, creates a bit more CO2. But it is nice to see provisions being suggested for cyclists to cross what could become a new GREAT divide.

On the issue of providing truck traffic with improved driving conditions, York has recently solved that problem when you opened Major Mackenzie through to Highway 50, and will soon connect it with highway 427. Transportation wise, Vaughan is in a very enviable situation already wrt 400 series highways – without the GTA West.

But if construction starts in 2022, by 2032 all those vehicles at the GTA West termination, proceeding on King Road, through King City will have turned it into a low rent corridor.

The COVID pandemic is changing how we move around, and its still too early to say what the end result will be – but it is likely to be less traffic growth than predicted pre COVID.  Which is quite a nice effect for climate change issues. And the less traffic, the less CO2, which allows for lower CO2 taxes. While as individuals we may eventually convert to electric vehicles, that is much more difficult for trucks – the heavy batteries eat into their payloads. So as CO2 taxes start to eat into transportation costs, trains will be the cheaper option.

A highway that attracts more high speed vehicles will undermine current traffic reductions and increase CO2 production.

But the congestion itself is an issue for York Region residents in the near term. Highway 400 represents an important but tenuous connection to Northern Ontario. During the winter, Barrie is subjected to Lake effect snow from 2 lakes. And during the summer, it represents the path to much of Ontario cottage country. Most of us know how bad it is on Friday weekends, even if there are no accidents. Having GTA West dead end will exacerbate the slow downs that already exist just south of King Road. We all know, the new highway entrance is not going to improve that situation. We already have two 400 series highways feeding the 400; 401 and 407. A third (or 4th?) slow down is not going to help traffic flow. Idling cars = CO2.

$6 billion is a rather abstract number. But its about the same as what it would cost to complete high speed internet access to rural Ontario! Not much CO2 generated with that. In fact, its what can lower some of our CO2 production by allowing for less trips. And again less C02=less CO2 tax.

Most of us experienced a bit of concern early in the pandemic when grocery stores didn’t always have what we wanted. So most of use have a much more positive view of the agricultural industry now. WE NEED them, and we know it. Tearing up farmland isn’t helping that situation.

Climate change is causing economic impacts.

Now that oil prices have declined, Canada has to push harder into the innovation and manufacturing game in order to buy our winter food. And where have those capabilities been languishing? Southern Ontario, particularly around the GTA. We’ll need to get those goods to export market – but maybe we should be thinking trains – local truck connections to intermodal transfer points.

With the new American outlook on climate change, things will change. If CO2 production is costing us money, its doing it to the Americans as well. Trains might be a better option for them.  We should be preparing to export and import in their preferred style. Trains are easier to electrify than long haul truck transport. Intermodal on this end should be stressed – which you have improved with Maj Mack extension.

Please rethink the GTA West. And take this chance to change your mind.