Climate Blog Series: Exploring the Municipal Impacts of Highway 413, Part 2
(27 May 2022) by Relina d’Cruz
This blog post is the second of a two-part series focussing on the municipal impacts of the highly controversial proposed Highway 413. The series will address interjurisdictional tensions between relevant municipalities and the province of Ontario by highlighting competing interests related to land use planning and development. This first post outlined the proposal for Highway 413, public and environmental concerns about its construction, and the municipalities through which it would run. On the eve of the 2022 Ontario provincial election, this second post discusses how the municipalities to be directly affected by the proposed construction of Highway 413 have responded, with a focus on the municipalities of Peel Region.
The first blog post in this series laid the basic framework for Highway 413. It explained the three types of municipalities, namely upper-tier, lower-tier and single-tier municipalities. Since upper-tier municipalities are comprised of various cities, towns and townships, it is difficult to capture a uniform stance on Highway 413. While some lower-tier cities support the highway, other upper and lower-tier cities oppose it. Even if lower-tier municipalities decide to support or oppose Highway 413, regional municipalities’ responses may overshadow those positions. This second post focuses on the positions taken by Peel Region and its lower-tier municipalities.
What is Brampton’s current stance on Highway 413?
Brampton is currently supporting Highway 413 – January 26th 2022 Council Meeting
Brampton city council supported the Highway 413 project when it was first revived by the Ford government in 2019. More recently, however, Brampton had voiced opposition to the proposed highway, based in part on the planned route which would cut directly through the proposed Heritage Heights Development in the city. During the regional council meeting that took place on January 26, 2022, a motion brought by one councillor suggested reopening the debate and reconsidering council’s support for Highway 413. However, the procedural requirement for two-thirds of council support to reopen a previously-decided issue failed, with 6—5 voting against reopening the debate. This left Brampton’s formal support for the Highway 413 proposal intact. Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown was among those opposed to re-opening the debate.
What is the Heritage Heights Development in Brampton?
Heritage Heights is a proposal for a mix-use boulevard that would run through the centre of Brampton to accommodate cars, cyclists and pedestrians. It was designed to anchor Brampton’s transition into a modern sustainable community in efforts to decrease greenhouse gas emissions in the city. The proposal had received significant support from Brampton City council. On the current proposed route, Highway 413 would run directly through the Heritage Heights Development. However on 24 January 2022, it was reported the province would not be considering changes to the proposed Highway 413 to accommodate the Heritage Heights plan.
What is Mississauga’s current stance on Highway 413?
Currently opposing Highway 413 – January 26th, 2022 Council Meeting
Mississauga City Council, along with the Region of Peel Council, has passed a motion opposing construction of the highway. Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie has also said she’s very much opposed to Hwy. 413, and that “all that money could go into public transit instead.” Councillors have voiced concerns about the project having detrimental effects on the environment. Council has raised issues about the highway running across agricultural lands that are vital to Ontario. Furthermore, Environmental Defence (an advocacy group) added that the city “needs to show the provincial government that Ontarians do not want more mega-highways and instead want to preserve our natural areas, grow and eat local produce, and invest in effective public transit and livable, walkable communities.”
What is Caledon’s current stance on Highway 413?
Currently supporting Highway 413 – March 9th, 2022
The town of Caledon has offered consistent support for the Highway 413 plan, maintaining the narrative that the highway will be business- and people-centric and good for the town’s economy. Critics majority of Caledon’s position argue that the Town has refused to listen to environmental concerns pertaining to Highway 413 and that council “did not provide any explanation as to why they voted down a motion to stop Highway 413 and consider alternatives.” In a council meeting held on February 15th, there was a vote against supporting rejecting Highway 413 – it was voted out by Councilor Jennifer Innis, Nick deBoer and Mayor Thompson. Councilor Innis, who has consistently voiced support for the Highway, owns a large section of property near the highway corridor that would increase significantly in value if the Highway is built. While other councilors demanded that Councilor Innis provide an explanation for her vote, she refused to do so.
In conclusion, while municipal response to the Highway 413 plan has been mixed in Peel Region, if the Ford government returns to power following the June 2 election it may push forward with construction.
Despite the controversy and opposition, the provincial government has ultimate authority and decision-making power on highways, and the Ford government has made it clear that they want Highway 413 built. Overwhelmed by political pressures and vested interests, and with little formal power over the issue as creatures of the province, cities’ positions may ultimately hold little sway. This is not to say no change can be created from the bottom up, however it remains up to the province to decide to what degree to take municipalities’ positions into consideration.
Relina D’cruz is a second-year Windsor Law student and student member of the Windsor Law Cities and Climate Action policy clinic. She lives in Brampton.
The research support of Miranda Baksh and Divya Arora of the Community Climate Council is gratefully acknowledged.