Environmental watchdogs are calling for a full federal impact assessment of Ontario’s proposed Highway 413 project, saying the thoroughfare could put dozens of wildlife species in Brampton, Mississauga and Halton Region at risk.
A new report from Canadian environmental advocacy organization Environmental Defence found the proposed highway would have a negative impact on some 29 species listed under the federal Species at Risk Act, and 122 species of birds protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act.
“Due to the number of species at risk impacted and the breadth of environmental impacts more generally, we recommend that the Impact Assessment Agency proceed with a full federal Impact Assessment,” the report reads.
The 50-km stretch of highway is slated to connect the 400 and 407, but has seen opposition from politicians and residents in Mississauga, Brampton and Oakville, as well as environmental activists.
RELATED: Rally being held in Oakville to stop Highway 413
Environmental Defence commissioned biologists at the University of Guelph to identify what at-risk species have been seen near the proposed route for highway, and how the construction would impact the future of each species in the region.
The report found the highway would cross an estimated 132 streams and rivers, many of which are fish-bearing, and at least a quarter are cool water streams which support aquatic communities.
Highway 413 would also result in the loss of around 1,000 hectares of “significant” natural areas and Greenbelt land, compromise the integrity of the Nashville Conservation Reserve, degrade many natural communities and at-risk species populations, according to the report.
The federal government has stepped in to conduct an environmental impact study of the project following environmental issues raised by the public, stopping the province from fully moving ahead with construction despite already acquiring land for the GTA West Corridor.
Environmental Defence are now calling on Ottawa to take on a full-scale assessment of the project.
“Given the province’s track record on endangered species, there’s a real need for federal oversight and a full federal Impact Assessment,” the report reads.
Also known as the GTA West Highway, the Conservatives say the four-to-six lane highway would create an estimated 800 jobs annually.
But watchdogs say the project could pour an estimated 17 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions into the air by 2040.
The project was originally proposed and later cancelled by the previous Ontario Liberal government, only to be resurrected by the Ontario PC Party under Doug Ford.
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