Dufferin-Caledon Green, Liberal and NDP candidates attend protest against Highway 413

May 12, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Zachary Roman

The Ontario Greens, Liberals, and New Democrats all agree on at least one thing, and that’s cancelling the Conservatives’ proposed Highway 413.

A protest against the highway was held on Friday, May 6 at the intersection of Highway 10 and Old School Road in the south of Caledon.

Green candidate Laura Campbell, Liberal candidate Bob Gordanier, and NDP candidate Tess Prendergast all attended the protest to show where their priorities lie as they campaign to become Dufferin-Caledon’s next Member of Provincial Parliament.

Caledon residents attended the protest too, as well as the leader of the Green Party of Ontario, Mike Schreiner.

While The Citizenwas covering the protest, many honks of support were shown, in particular from commercial trucks. As well, several people directed obscene gestures at the demonstrators as they drove by, indicating their opposition.

Caledon resident Dan O’Reilly, who planned the May 6 protest and others in the past, said the location of the protest was of significance.

Signs that read “Future site of Highway 413” in English and French have been erected near the intersection where the protest was held, something O’Reilly said is misleading to people who may not follow news of the highway closely.

“The Federal government… has decided the 413 will be the subject of a federal environmental assessment,” said O’Reilly. “Construction on this highway can’t start until the federal environmental assessment is finished.”

On May 2, Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson told the CBC the Federal impact assessment agency, along with other departments, had areas of concern related to the 413, particularly with regards to its impact on the habitat of federally-listed species-at-risk.

Pete Paterson, a Caledon resident who attended the May 6 protest, said if the 413 is built it will be a “complete destruction of Caledon.”

He said the highway will cause all kinds of sprawl in Caledon and that it’s disappointing the Conservatives have resurrected it.

“Expropriate the 407 and put all the trucks and driving back on that, you solve the problem, so simple,” said Paterson.

Mari-Anne Tate lives in Inglewood and attended the protest because she said she doesn’t want to see any more farmland developed in Caledon. She said she travels on the 407 and sees that it’s empty — she believes in utilizing the 407 rather than building the 413.

“The farm, that’s where we get our food from, so I don’t know where we’re going to get our food if all of the farmland is turned into highways and developments,” said Tate.

“There’s no long-term thinking, it’s just like, ‘Let’s just get more cars and let’s make them move faster.’”

Schreiner told The Citizen the Green Party is committed to making 400-series highways illegal in the Greenbelt. “We have to protect the nature that protects us, the farmland that feeds us, and the bottom line is we have to put people before speculators,” he said.

Campbell said during her door-knocking efforts in Orangeville, she’s found the majority of people there are opposed to the 413 despite being further away from it geographically than Caledon residents. 

“They understand that sprawl doesn’t create affordable housing… they’re dismayed that our MPP has been so strongly stating her support for the highway,” said Campbell.

She said whatever happens in Caledon is going to have ripple effects across southern Ontario. Campbell said the Greens do not support expanding urban boundaries in the Region of Peel; instead they would increase density and create a “great business case to build high-quality transit.”

“That’s the future, because we have a finite amount of farmland that is going to have to feed a lot of people who live here,” she said.

Prendergast said it was important for her to attend the protest because the 413 will take away farmland from the people of Caledon, and contribute to food insecurity that vulnerable members of the community face.

She said the highway is not in the best interest of Caledon residents, rather it’s in the best interest of “a centralized Ontario government who is paying back big donors to their 2018 campaign.”

“Ford promised to carve up the Greenbelt, and folks, he’s doing it now,” said Prendergast.

Gordanier said during his campaigning efforts, he’s heard very little from people who support the 413. He thinks one of the biggest reasons for that is the money that would be used to build the 413 would be better spent on education or health care. “This highway doesn’t really go anywhere,” said Gordanier.

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