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Residents mobilize to oppose GTA West corridor

April 2, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Rob Paul, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

With the proposed GTA West Corridor—also known as Highway 413—under review by Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation, there’s been scrutiny in the communities it will impact.

Highway 413 would provide a bypass of the GTA for those travelling between Southwestern Ontario and Northern Ontario while being built through areas such as Brampton and Vaughan.

It’s a polarizing situation due to the environmental consequences on surrounding farms, forests, wetlands, and a section of the Greenbelt. The proposed highway will have an impact on those in the surrounding Caledon area.

Seeing a need for increased awareness regarding the concerns around Highway 413, Bolton resident Dan O’Reilly teamed up with fellow resident Julia Galt to bring more acknowledgement to the issues in the area with a Stop Highway 413 sign initiative.

“It was actually my initiative, and I was trying to get somebody to help me, and then I was steered onto Julia and sent her an email asking if she’d like to do this and she said yes,” said O’Reilly. “The purpose of doing this is to try and raise awareness of the 413 in Bolton.”

In preparation for the sign initiative, O’Reilly and Galt will be going door-to-door on Bolton’s King Street to leave letters for residents. The letters will inform the residents of the situation and will have O’Reilly’s contact information if they’re interested in putting a sign up.

“Your help is urgently needed to build opposition and create awareness in Bolton about the threat posed to Caledon by the proposed Highway 413,” the letter reads. “Also known as the GTA West Corridor, the 413 is a 400-style, 59-kilometre-long mega-highway that, if built, will extend from Milton to Vaughan.

“Highway 413 will cut through the heart of Caledon, slicing it in two, facilitating sprawling warehouse and housing developments on both sides. Estimated to cost a minimum of $6 billion, Highway 413 will pave over thousands of hectares of prime farmland and the Greenbelt.”

There’s been plenty of opposition of the 413, including from Halton Region, the Town of Halton Hills, the Town of Orangeville, the City of Mississauga, and the City of Vaughan, but O’Reilly says they need to continue to apply pressure.

The idea for the sign initiative in Bolton came when O’Reilly realized there’s been a lack of opposition in the community compared to other areas.

“I’m just kind of floored because there’s so much opposition to this in King Township, Vaughan, and over in Halton Hills,” he said. “On the west side of Caledon, a friend of mine put up a lot of ‘Stop 413’ signs in Inglewood and Belfountain—the Belfountain Community Organization erected about 30 signs just before Thanksgiving—but there doesn’t seem to be much happening in Caledon.

“I persuaded two downtown property owners to erect signs and a third person in the downtown area put up a sign, but that’s it. The reason I came up with this idea was just to raise the profile and I suggested to Julia that King Street would be a good route because it’s a major east-west thoroughfare—there’s not much point in putting a sign on an internal court or a side street because there’s not much traffic.

“That’s the idea with the sign and with the concerns over COVID-19, we wanted to put an initial letter into their mailbox or in-between the doors with my contact information saying that if they’d like, we can come back with a free sign from Environmental Defence for them.”

Despite the plans for Highway 413 from the provincial government, O’Reilly wants people to know that there’s something that can and should be done about it and the sign will provide a constant reminder.

“Anybody that’s interested in getting a sign can just contact me and I should have a few signs ready to go. I’ll probably be able to get the sign up that day or we can figure out a day for me to come back.”

For more information on the Stop the 413 initiative from Environmental Defence, visit environmentaldefence.ca.



         

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