Controversial proposal for GTA West Highway cancelled by province

The Ontario government has cancelled a controversial plan to build a new highway, called the GTA West Highway or the 413, which would have connected Highway 400 and Highway 401 between Vaughan and Milton.

Environmental group calls decision to scuttle project a 'pretty complete victory'

Highway 413 would have connected Vaughan and Milton. (File Photo)

A controversial plan to build a new highway, known as the GTA West Highway or the 413, which would have connected Highway 400 and Highway 401 between Vaughan and Milton, has been cancelled.

According to a statement sent out by the Ministry of Transportation on Friday afternoon, the proposal is "not the best way to address changing transportation needs."

Environmental and community groups protested against the project because it would have most likely cut through parts of the 800,000-hectare Greenbelt, an area of farmland, forests, wetlands and watersheds that forms a ring around the Greater Toronto Area and is protected from development.

The project has been suspended since an environmental assessment for the highway was paused in 2015 for a review.

Tim Gray, executive director of the advocacy group Environmental Defence, told CBC Toronto that the decision to cancel the proposal is a "pretty complete victory.

"For a lot of people this highway didn't make a lot of sense," he said. "It didn't actually link any cities. It went from a highway to a highway."

Gray said the province was going to "pave over thousands of acres of prime farmland and the largest remaining forested areas in Vaughan."

The Ministry of Transportation says it will "incorporate new and emerging transportation technologies into future projects."

Gray said this could mean new light rail projects, road tolls and maintaining compact communities "to make the existing urban areas more amenable to transit.

"If this the last 400 series highway it will be good for everyone," Gray said.