Canada

Vaughan withdraws support for GTA West highway

Idea of a western GTA freeway has floated around Queen's Park since the early 2000s

Preferred route of the GTA West/413 Highway

What began as a request for an environmental assessment ended in a major roadblock for a contentious expressway.

On Tuesday, Vaughan city council’s committee-of-the-whole voted 5 to 4 to withdraw support for the GTA West Highway/413, dealing the megaproject a serious blow.

The drama began Tuesday morning with a committee delegation by highway opponent Irene Ford, urging Vaughan to join calls for a federal environmental assessment.

“It’s not a corridor, it’s a mega 400-series highway,” she said, saying the project will split communities, farms and environmentally sensitive areas.

Preferred route of the GTA West/413 Highway
Preferred route of the GTA West/413 Highway Photo by https://www.gta-west.com/

The current preferred route stretches from the 407/401 interchange near Hornby north into Brampton and Caledon along Mississauga Rd. before turning east at Old School Rd., across the Peel/York Region gore at Mayfield Rd. and terminating at Hwy. 400 near Kirby Rd.

Originally a northern bypass from Kitchener/Waterloo to the 400, the idea of a western GTA freeway had floated around Queen’s Park since the early 2000s.

The project was scuttled in February 2018 by the Wynne Liberals, then revived shortly after the PCs gained power that summer.

Last week, Mississauga council unanimously voted to reject the project.

“Joanie Mitchell would be proud,” Councillor Carolyn Parrish tweeted, misspelling the name of the legendary Canadian singer of Big Yellow Taxi.

“We are not ‘paving paradise to put up a parking lot.'”

Shortly into the Vaughan committee’s discussion, Councillor Tony Carella unexpectedly tabled a motion calling on council to withdraw support — a move he said reflected the will of the residents.

Fellow Councillor Linda Jackson opposed pulling support, calling it short-sighted.

“We need to follow this through, we need to see if this is doable or not doable,” she said.

“We owe our community some finaility. We need to know whether we’re going to do this or not, we can’t just keep yanking it and reviving it.”

The motion to withdraw support passed 5-4, with councillors Jackson, Gino Rosati, Mario Ferri and Mayor Ma​​urizio Bevilacqua voting against.

The decision must be ratified by council at their next meeting.

bpassifiume@postmedia.com
On Twitter: @bryanpassifiume

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