The Impact of Highway 413 on King Township

Nov 22, 2020

The Ontario government has proposed a new 400-series highway through the north end of the GTA that will end at the 400, just south of King Township. The GTA West Highway, dubbed highway 413, would be 50km long and start at the 401 in Halton Hills and end three kilometers south of the King Rd exit on the 400. CCKT has grave concerns about the impact that this highway will have on the environment, traffic congestion, and urban sprawl.

Added Traffic

The highway was being considered in 2015, but was ultimately cancelled in 2018 when the government’s own expert Advisory Panel concluded that it was not a wise investment.  Among other things, the Panel noted that changing transportation needs didn’t require such a large road; a particularly relevant comment considering the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the daily commute.  In 2012 the cost building the proposed new highway was estimated at $6 billion, but the Expert Panel concluded that it would only save 30-60 seconds per trip!

Locally, the additional traffic generated by the highway will pose serious problems for King Township in areas which are already struggling with major congestion.

King residents are familiar with the daily traffic jams at the intersection of King Road and highway 27, but these will only be exacerbated by an exit from the new highway just three kilometers south.  Given the Township and Region’s challenges in solving the current problem, it’s unclear how they propose to handle the increased traffic flow.

There is also a partial interchange planned for Weston road, one kilometer from the terminus at 400.  There are concerns this exit will severely impact the residents of Laskay Village who suffered through heavy truck traffic while the cement plant was being built on the King-Vaughan line near 400.  The large volume of heavily loaded aggregate vehicles caused hazardous driving conditions on the steep Weston Road for that relatively small project.  Residents are concerned about an exponential increase in truck traffic for the construction of a major highway, not to mention the added traffic once an off-ramp leading right through their village is functional. 

Paving the Greenbelt

The corridor for the highway would be 170m wide and would cut through farms, forests and rivers as well as nearly 2,000 acres of farmland in the Greenbelt. Ontario’s Greenbelt Act was originally developed explicitly to prevent development by protecting agricultural lands, water resources and natural areas. Home to many plants and trees, the area acts as an organic sponge for various forms of pollution, and as a storehouse of carbon dioxide to help offset global climate change.

Over its length, the highway will cross approximately 53 rivers and streams and cut into much of the province’s protected Natural Heritage System.  These areas are considered especially sensitives and feature woodlands, wetlands, watercourses and valleylands which help provide a clean and reliable supply of water; flood moderation; erosion control; and much more.  Road salt runoff from the proposed highway will permanently damage streams, groundwater and plants as well as degrade the Credit River and Humber River watersheds that flow into Lake Ontario – a source of drinking water for millions of GTA residents.

Urban Sprawl Alternatives

The impact of appropriating parts of the Greenbelt will only serve to further the creep of urban sprawl while also cutting into our limited quality farmland.  This has negative consequences for residents and our environment by increasing water and air pollution, losing agricultural capacity, adding to traffic jams, and increasing car dependency. 

The Expert Panel that had previously studied the highway recommended four specific alternatives be considered:

  • Consider and prioritize planned and constructed extension and expansion of existing highways: 400, 401, 407ETR, 410 and 427 (Since the Panel report the 400, 401, 410 and 427 have or are undergoing expansions).
  • Consider congestion pricing i.e. tolls (offers much larger travel time saving than a new highway).
  • Consider providing truck priority on Highway 407ETR (subsidizing truck traffic would be far less expensive than building the GTA West).
  • Consider slower population growth and more compact land use patterns than assumed in the EA, consistent with recent actual growth. (Forecasts are predicting lower population growth rates. Our population is not replicating itself in Canada, population growth is generally from immigration).

Currently, the provincial government is completing its Environmental Assessment of the project which is estimated to be complete by the end of 2022.

CCKT believes that the Greenbelt, farmland, and our rural lifestyle must be protected and that the $6 billion cost of the highway would be better invested in other initiatives.

Related Reading:

GTA West official website: https://www.gta-west.com/  

Ford Moves to ‘Streamline’ Environmental Study for GTA West Highway: https://thepointer.com/article/2020-07-10/this-is-a-government-that-would-pave-the-greenbelt-ford-moves-to-streamline-environmental-study-for-gta-west-highway  

Stop the 413: https://environmentaldefence.ca/stop-the-413/  

David Suzuki Report: Are We Paving Over Our Natural Wealth: https://davidsuzuki.org/story/are-we-paving-over-our-natural-wealth/    

David Suzuki Report: Watersheds of the Ontario Greenbelt: Policy Options to Preserve, Protect and Restore the Watersheds of the Greenbelt: https://davidsuzuki.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/watersheds-ontario-greenbelt-policy-options-preserve-protect-restore.pdf  

Time to Use Your Powerful Voice to Save Caledon: https://justsayincaledon.com/time-to-use-your-powerful-voice-to-save-caledon/  

Ontario Public Health: Traffic-Related Air Pollution: https://www.publichealthontario.ca/-/media/documents/O/2016/ohp-trap.pdf?la=en  

What is the Greenbelt? http://www.projectyu.ca/green