Premier Doug Ford is ready to put shovelfuls in the ground.
With a bulldozer behind him and a “Future Site of Highway 413” sign on his right hand, Ford announced Thursday, March 10, the launch of a 30-year transportation plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
The announcement includes the controversial Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass, both of which have adverse environmental effects in times of climate change.
The plan is also part of a “historic” $28.5 billion investment in public transit infrastructure, Ford said.
The Premier said this transportation plan is necessary to support Ontario’s growing economy and reduce traffic congestion.
“People don’t want to sit in traffic jams,” Ford said, citing how the Greater Golden Horseshoe region, which stretches from Niagara in the west to Northumberland in the east, is adding 200,000 new residents each year.
“We are the fastest growing jurisdiction in North America,” he said, citing the region’s key economic importance, which totals $1.16 trillion in “goods that pass through the region every year”.
Ford also said the plan is for future generations to follow and attract investment to create “good jobs in our automotive and manufacturing sectors” in hopes of boosting Ontario’s competitiveness by as a “North American business hub” and a “stronger economy, an economy that works for everyone.”
“Our 30-year plan is designed to address not only current transit needs, but also the proactive solutions in place to prepare for generations to come,” he said.
Ford also said the plan will connect northern Ontario resources and industries to “the future of clean steel and electric vehicles.”
Ford’s announcement comes after Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass sparked protests, particularly from environmental groups who view the government as placid on climate change.
These two highways would inevitably destroy parts of the Greenbelt north of Toronto, according to environmental groups.
There’s also no conclusion at this time if Highway 413 will save time or exactly how much it will cost.
Highway 413 also created a divide in York Region governments.
King and Vaughan both canceled their support for the highway. However, York Region still supports him.
Even within Vaughan, there is division. Three regional councilors and the mayor are in favor of it and voted in favor at regional level.
Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua attended Ford’s announcement alongside his Caledon counterpart, Mayor Allan Thompson.
Ford said the plan was to “build roads, bridges and highways, expand subways and public transit, and build more homes.”
“We cannot allow the inaction of previous governments to hold back families, workers and businesses in this province any longer,” Ford said ahead of Ontario’s general election this summer.