Harvest Ontario Walk to Stop HWY 413

What do a group of grandmothers and ‘others’, a leading Canadian environmental organization and a community climate group have in common? It turns out quite a bit. Grand(m)others Act to Save the Planet (GASP), Environmental Defense (ED) and Mississauga Climate Action (MCA) are joining another dozen environmental groups to close the proposed 59-kilometer route of Hwy 413 Accessible on foot or by bike.

Harvest Ontario Walk (HOW) is the brainchild of Susan Berry. The chairman of WIE tells Rabble.approx She was inspired to organize the October 1st Walk because she grew up near Highway 407 and saw that development really is only for developers. According to Berry, “There are so many better ways to creatively build housing and protect our waterways, food security and endangered species.”

Berry wants a future for her children that is free of a carbon-producing disaster, built on prime farmland and the beautiful Nashville Conservation Reserve. To that end, attendees will have an opportunity to notify the federal government that Ontario residents are demanding a full federal assessment of this critical infrastructure project in the form of a video of the peaceful protest being shared with lawmakers.

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A map of the proposed route of Highway 413. Source: OpenStreetMap Project.

The proposed highway will traverse 2,000 acres of prime farmland and up to 400 acres of green belt. Its construction will harm food security as well as the climate crisis.

Prioritizing pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods

The groups want to draw attention to the need to prioritize sustainable transportation and walkable neighborhoods over building outdated highways that only increase congestion, cause more environmental damage and undermine the social determinants of health.

ED commissioned a report pave paradise: The impact of Highway 413 on greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, and suburban sprawlto understand the impacts of Highway 413 on climate change and the health of people, communities and sensitive ecosystems.

The bottom line is that the Autobahn will allow developers to trade up sustainable, dense, vibrant cities for sprawling car-dependent subdivisions that will force residents to drive even further to get to what they need and where they want to go. This means the potential destruction of sensitive archaeological sites on land occupied by the Huron-Wendat.

The freeway would bisect the sensitive headwaters of four watersheds within Mississauga on Credit First Nation territory and would affect ceremonial and burial sites.

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A loss of 2,000 acres of Class 1 and 2 farmland as food production is challenged by climate change, development and the disruption of food supply chains due to COVID and ongoing global conflict. This not only threatens local food security, but also affects Canada’s food sovereignty.

By 2050, the additional 17 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions will result in $1.4 billion in pollution damage. Drivers using the 413, meanwhile, save an average of 30 to 60 seconds per trip.

Even more insidious is the fact that Hwy 413 will literally pave the way for further suburban sprawl, leading to even greater traffic congestion and the demand for more freeways.

CFSP members engage in policy actions that highlight the intersectionality of the climate crisis and the disproportionate carbon contributions of wealthier baby boomers.

CFSP members work with people of different ages and backgrounds in what they call the “fight for our lives”. According to co-founder Carole Holmes, “Urban sprawl planning had its heyday in the 1970s when the devastating environmental impact was unknown. Today we are in a climate crisis. Now we know the 413 makes no sense.”

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Holmes continued, “$10 billion for a new highway when our healthcare system desperately needs it doesn’t make sense.”

Berry wants attendees to have fun and connect in a COVID-safe way that celebrates nature, the outdoors, health and the good things that grow in Ontario.

The route has been broken up into manageable sections covering Halton, Brampton, Caledon and Vaughn. There will also be a farmers market and rally at the Brampton Fairgrounds where walkers and cyclists will complete their journey and celebrate with supporters.

Lorraine Green, co-founder of GASP, notes, “Ontario is ours to protect our children and grandchildren. You should be able to experience the beauty of our lush forests, fields, farms and wildlife that will be lost when HWY 413 is built.”

For more information on the Harvest Ontario Walk, see Walk Through on October 1st. •

This article was first published on the Rabble.approx Website.

Doreen Nicoll is a freelance writer, teacher and social activist.

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