Some Vaughan, King residents to boycott webinar on Hwy. 413, ministry encourages public to ask questions
'Clearly nothing has changed as a result of our input,' members of Stop the 413 Community Group say
Sept. 30, 2021
Two days before a scheduled webinar by Ontario's transportation ministry on the proposed Hwy. 413, a group of King and Vaughan residents vowed to boycott it, calling it "controlled".
However, the ministry said it encourages the public to submit questions, and that the government is committed to the full consultation process.
The webinar is scheduled for Sept. 29, 6 to 8 p.m.
"When residents received the announcement for another community engagement session, they thought 'What’s the point?'" the residents, who are part of the Stop the 413 Community Group, said in a public statement Sept. 27.
The webinar has been presented before. In July, the transportation ministry had its GTA West Project Team provide the same overview of the project, followed by a question-and-answer period.
"Clearly, nothing has changed as a result of our input," the residents added. "It is the same project overview and attending will only be an exercise in futility."
During the first webinar, the "entire session was controlled by the Ministry of Transportation and consulting staff", the residents said.
The moderators dodged key questions, the residents said.
"Questions about it being a toll highway are being ignored," they said. "New transit stations are appearing along the route, but were never publicly consulted upon. Information provided by the GTA West Team is not substantiated with any publicly available updated reports."
Following public uproar, Vaughan and King councils withdrew their endorsement of the proposed highway. The residents’ activism has also led the federal government to intervene by conducting its own environmental assessment.
Regionally, however, there is a divide, as York Region council still backs the bid.
The residents said they are waiting for a public information meeting with their local MPPs.
They said Vaughan council requested a meeting with Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney and King-Vaughan MPP Sephen Lecce on March 10 and is still waiting for it to happen.
If Hwy. 413 goes through, Vaughan is going to be the most impacted municipality in York Region. The highway will cut through its portion of the Greenbelt.
"We are continuing this important work on a regular basis," Natasha Tremblay, spokesperson for the transportation ministry, said.
Tremblay didn't comment about Vaughan council's request for a meeting.
A website for the project provides more information, including opportunities to comment.
Tremblay also explained the "intention of these webinars is to not only provide information on the status of the project, but also to address questions from the public that are received in advance".
"The GTA West Team endeavours to respond to all questions that are not addressed in the allotted time following the webinar."
Residents can contact the GTA West Project Team in the following ways: