Ontario doesn’t require two levels of government to complete Environment Assessments (EA) when it comes to roadbuilding, according to Premier Doug Ford.
At the recent Ontario Good Roads Association conference, Ford explained a single EA would streamline construction.
“Nothing drives me more crazy than when there’s duplication of government, no matter if its federal, municipal or provincial,” Ford said.
“We need to get shovels in the ground. We need to start building those roads.”
The premier used the proposed Highway 413 as an example of duplicating government process. In 2021, the federal government announced it would conduct its own EA following criticism from environmental advocates.
“The Environmental Assessments in Ontario are second to none, anywhere in the world,” Ford said. “We don’t need the federal government to do an EA on top of our EA.”
Highway 413 would span 52 km, and extend from Highway 400 (between Kirby Road and King-Vaughan Road) in the east to the Highway 401 and 407 interchange in the west. The 413 will connect York, Peel and Halton regions upon completion. The project also includes a 4 km extension to Highway 410 and a 3 km extension to Highway 427 for a total of 59 km for the corridor.
“With all the people coming down the 400, you see how jammed it is,” Ford said, stressing the need to build 413.
Ford noted the 2023 budget confirms the government’s commitment to building new roads, as well as expanding or maintaining existing infrastructure. The budget will invest $184 billion in the next decade for infrastructure, including nearly $28 billion dedicated to roadbuilding.
“When we say we’re talking about building roads and building transit and building schools, we are building it for tomorrow. We’re building it for the next 50 years,” Ford said. “Our plan to build includes the most ambitious capital plan in Ontario’s history.”
Alongside Highway 413, Ontario is building the Bradford Bypass, the new Highway 7 between Kitchener and Guelph and widening Highway 3 in Southwestern Ontario.
“And there’s a whole list of other projects we’re doing but I’d be here until tomorrow if I tell you all 600 of them,” Ford said.
Through the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund, the province will spend $400 million this year to repair critical infrastructure in 425 small, rural and northern communities.
As well, the province will build an all-season roadway connecting First Nations communities around the Ring of Fire.
“It’s not only to support development, but also improve access to everyday essentials that we take for granted,” Ford said. “We’re getting shovels in the ground, from Thunder Bay to Kitchener to Windsor and everywhere in between.”
The province also aims to build roads faster by improving procurement strategies, make use of new technologies and enhance the Ontario One Call system.
“Let’s work together to build a stronger Ontario,” Ford said. “Let’s work together to build and improve our roads and highways and keep people and goods moving.”