Governments of Canada and Ontario Working Together on Environmental Protections and Greater Regulatory Certainty for the Advancement of Highway 413

OTTAWA, ON, April 15, 2024 /CNW/ – Today, the Governments of Canada and Ontario committed to working together to protect the environment and give Ontario greater regulatory certainty to advance Highway 413.


Government of Canada logo (CNW Group/Government of Canada)

Through the agreement announced today, both Ontario and Canada have agreed to a collaborative process to assess and manage the issues around federal species at risk throughout Ontario’s planning of the project. At Ontario and Canada’s request, the Federal Court has ordered that the Highway 413 Project’s designation under the Impact Assessment Act be set aside.

Through a Memorandum of Understanding signed between Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation and the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, the two levels of government have established a joint working group in which provincial and federal officials will recommend appropriate measures to minimize environmental impacts in areas of federal environmental jurisdiction. This builds upon the province’s environmental assessment process, which is also well underway.

As Ontario advances on Highway 413, it is committed to building infrastructure in a responsible way that minimizes environmental impacts. Both Canada and Ontario have robust and transparent regulatory regimes to ensure the environment is protected before major projects are developed.

In October 2023, the Supreme Court of Canada issued an opinion that the Impact Assessment Act in its current form is partially unconstitutional and must focus on areas of federal jurisdiction. The Court also confirmed that the environment is an area of shared jurisdiction under the Constitution and encouraged both levels of government to work together in the spirit of “cooperative federalism.” The Government of Canada has since committed to presenting legislation to update the Impact Assessment Act in Spring 2024 and in the meantime has released interim guidance indicating that no decisions to designate projects will be taken.

Quotes

“This agreement shows Canada and Ontario’s ability to work together while recognizing their shared jurisdiction on matters to do with the environment. It also ensures federal interests will be maintained on the protection of species while offering Ontario, in light of the recent Supreme Court’s decision, a greater level of clarity around the review process for the Highway 413 Project.”

– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“Today’s announced agreement provides Ontario the certainty we need to move forward with Highway 413. I want to thank the federal government for meeting us at the table and collaborating on the environmental protections needed to get the project started. In the coming months, we will move ahead with procurement to get shovels in the ground on key interchanges of the project, bringing us one step closer to getting it done. Our province is in the middle of a period of unprecedented growth, with gridlock costing our economy upwards of $11 billion every year and we need our infrastructure to keep up. It’s never been more important to build roads, bridges, and highways that drivers rely on.”

– The Honourable Prabmeet Sarkaria, Minister of Transportation

Quick Facts
  • Highway 413 is a proposed 52-kilometre highway and transitway connecting the regions of York, Peel, and Halton in Ontario.
  • The project is subject to Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Act and other provincial and federal protections, including those under the Fisheries Act, the Migratory Birds Convention Act, and the Species at Risk Act.
  • The joint working group will leverage collective expertise to protect the environment and ensure impacts to species at risk, like the Western chorus frog and the red-headed woodpecker, and their critical habitats are considered before the project moves into the detailed design stage.
  • The Highway 413 Project was previously designated under the Impact Assessment Act in May 2021 due to concerns the project may cause adverse effects on the critical habitat of federally listed species at risk. At Ontario and Canada’s request, that designation has now been set aside by the Federal Court.

SOURCE Government of Canada