What's next? King, Vaughan now at odds with York Region over Hwy. 413
Residents in both communities, councillors decry lack of local representation on Hwy. 413 issue
April 1, 2021
On Monday, March 29, King withdrew its support for the proposed Hwy. 413, worth at least $6 billion, making it official that the township alongside Vaughan are at odds with York Region’s endorsement of the freeway, set to be in vicinity of their municipality.
King’s unanimous decision comes after York Region council voted March 18 against a motion to rescind its support to the highway.
While Hwy. 413 doesn’t cut through King, it will unavoidably cut across 60 per cent of the protected Greenbelt and 40 per cent of agricultural land in Vaughan alone. Also, more than 50 per cent of the proposed highway, which might also be toll-ridden, parallels the "underutilized" Hwy. 407 in Vaughan.
“This now has the two most impacted municipalities in York Region saying, ‘We don't want it.’ They have to listen,” Tony Malfara, a Vaughan resident, said.
“Mayor (Maurizio) Bevilacqua and Coun. (Linda) Jackson, (Gino) Rosati, and (Mario) Ferri stand on an island by themselves,” he added. “They have put their personal preferences and those of the province and other municipalities, and have abandoned those they represent who voted collectively to say no to the highway and yes to looking at the alternatives.”
Vaughan has officially withdraw its support for the proposed highway, but its three regional councillors and mayor are in favour have voted for it regionally.
To their defence, Regional Coun. Linda Jackson wants environmental protection via a federal Environment Assessment while kick-starting the process for the probable doability of the highway amid population boom, adding that regional councillors’ main task is to see the broader picture and that’s traffic gridlock, posed as No. 1 complaint by residents in Vaughan.
But for Malfara, environmentally and economically, York Region’s stance is “sitting on flawed, biased and old information.” “We can't spend that kind of money unless we really understand what's going on,” he added, saying that creative solutions can be applied to Hwy. 407, and increase its usage.
‘WE HOPE YORK REGION READS LETTER’
Sherry Draisey, a King resident, said, “Of course we were delighted, especially since it was a unanimous decision.”
“We hope the letter of support to ‘stop the 413’ that our (King) Mayor acknowledged last night, from an Aurora Grade 8 student, is read closely by York Region councillors.”
During the March 18 meeting, there was a splinter between York Region mayors, with Markham’s mayor being a major advocate of the highway.
However, King Mayor Steve Pellegrini alongside Newmarket’s and Aurora’s mayors made it clear that York Region municipalities previously endorsed the highway without thorough discussion about the highway and its merits.
“That (York Region) meeting just confirmed that Vaughan residents have no representation of local interests, as has long been suspected,” Irene Ford, a Vaughan resident and spokesperson for the 'Stop the 413' group. “So, we have four members who sit on our council who believe and act in the interests of the region not Vaughan; What is the point of having regional representation?”
Coun. Marilyn Iafrate, whose ward is going to be the most affected if this highway goes through, isn’t surprised by the division, and lamented how local councillors sometimes have the impression York Region isn’t with them or their communities.
Local councillors are “at the grassroots with the residents,” she added. “We know what they're saying; regional councillors don’t.”
The situation for Iafrate reminds her about a landfill project driven by the project 25 years ago.
“How do you engage? How do you fight it?” she asked, urging residents to speak with higher-level government officials.
Iafrate had an approved motion that the city sends letters to Minister of Transportation of Ontario Caroline Mulroney and King-Vaughan MPP Stephen Lecce, requesting the minister hosts public information meeting for Vaughan residents.
So far, no meetings have been scheduled.