Response to Inaccurate Media Coverage of TRCA’s Stance Regarding the Proposed GTA West Highway

March 1, 2021, Toronto, ON – Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s (TRCA) position on the proposed highway has been consistent since the matter was first raised at a Board of Directors meeting on June 24, 2011. Media reporting that TRCA is in opposition to the project is incorrect, as is reporting that the stance being taken publicly by Board members disregards TRCA’s position, which is readily available to the media through several past Board resolutions and reports on the matter.

TRCA’s position, and that of many of our municipal and conservation authority partners in the GTA West Study Area is that should the GTA West highway plan proceed, it should be planned to minimize negative impacts to the natural and socio-economic environment and that the Environmental Assessment (EA) and alternative route alignments should be defined as narrowly as possible to ensure greatest certainty and detailed study of ecological impacts to ensure avoidance of sensitive areas, appropriate mitigation, and compensation if avoidance is not possible.

On October 21, 2016, this messaging was positively received by the GTA West Corridor Advisory Panel, in a presentation that was coordinated between TRCA, Conservation Halton and Credit Valley Conservation.

Currently, TRCA, in its role as a government agency reviewer and landowner, is providing scientific and technical advice to the Province, that is being utilized by our municipal and government agency partners. TRCA is also reviewing and conducting environmental monitoring and management work related to planned infrastructure and development, that is on hold, and must be informed by the GTA West Highway plan in York and Peel regions.

TRCA’s interests in the potential project include the following:

Study Area

  • Extending from Highway 400 in the east and terminating at the Highway 401/407.
  • Within TRCA’s jurisdiction, the proposed highway extends from Highway 400 in the City of Vaughan, west through the Town of Caledon and City of Brampton to approximately Heritage Road, crossing the Humber River and Etobicoke Creek watersheds.
  • New highway cross section includes 110 m highway right of way, plus a 60 m right-of-way for the adjacent transitway including transit stations.

Wildlife Connectivity, Flora, Fauna and the Natural Heritage System (Within TRCA’s jurisdiction)

  • Over 1,000 ha of land identified as important for local wildlife movement, some of which is also important at a regional scale, will either be removed or intersected.
  • Approximately 85 watercourses will be impacted. Of these crossings, 10 are considered “high priority” locations ecologically, as they are in deep valleys.
  • Over 110 occurrences (representing 10 different species) of federal and/or provincial species at risk.
  • 35 different fauna species of local concern (with approximately 240 separate occurrences).
  • 74 different flora species of local concern (with approximately 275 separate occurrences).
  • Approximately 220 wetlands covering 130 ha, will be impacted.
  • Approximately 680 ha of habitat representing 224 separate habitat patches (forest, wetland, meadows) will be directly removed or indirectly impacted. This includes 240 ha (representing 40 separate habitat patches) of high-quality habitat and over 300 ha (representing 206 separate habitat patches) of habitat deemed highly vulnerable to impacts of climate change.

Flood Hazards and Stormwater Management

  • approximately 397 hectares (ha) of impervious surface will be added.
  • approximately 85 new watercourse crossings.
  • Property needed to address and meet stormwater management criteria for the new highway as well as the future transitway, stations and any other associated hardened surfaces has not yet been identified in the EA.

Source Water Protection

  • Within the Regional Municipality of Peel, the proposed alignments transect Highly Vulnerable Aquifers and Significant Groundwater Recharge Areas as identified in the Credit Valley – Toronto and Region – Central Lake Ontario Source Protection Plan (CTC SPP).
  • Within the Regional Municipality of York, the proposed alignments transect Highly Vulnerable Aquifers, Significant Groundwater Recharge Areas and a Wellhead Protection Area for quality and quantity.
  • All alignments will have some level of impact to these resources.

TRCA Owned Lands

  • Impacts of the alternative options on TRCA-owned lands range from approximately 8 to 78 ha, depending on the various combinations of alternatives.
  • notable concern are the sections of the technically preferred route within the Highway 410 area and through TRCA’s Nashville Conservation Reserve (NCR).

Detailed Design and Voluntary Project Review (VPR)

If approved, the next stage in the project is to commence detailed design, whereby MTO is obligated to satisfy all Ministerial conditions, as well as to obtain all permits and approvals. As a Crown agency, MTO is exempt from obtaining a permit pursuant to TRCA’s section 28 regulation under the Conservation Authorities Act. In such circumstances, TRCA offers proponents the option of submitting a Voluntary Project Review (VPR) application.

The VPR is submitted at the design stage and allows staff to complete a comprehensive review and provide an opinion as to whether the interests, objectives, and tests of TRCA’s Ontario Regulation 166/06 will be satisfied. This will allow TRCA staff to work with MTO and their consultants to mitigate the impacts described above. Fees are charged as per the TRCA Fee Schedule and the standard TRCA review process is followed. Once TRCA comments are satisfied, a VPR letter is issued confirming that our interests have been met.

Unless required to consult with TRCA as a Condition of Approval by MECP, MTO is under no obligation to seek further input at the detailed design stage. While the VPR process is used by other Crown agencies, such as Metrolinx, Parks Canada, and was used for the 427 Extension which is eventually planned to connect to the GTA West corridor, to date, it has not been pursued by MTO on this project.

TRCA is aware of the request for a federal review of this project. TRCA in its role as a technical reviewer has been requested to, and has provided, links to its previous reports on the GTA West to Federal government officials to inform their review and decision.

About Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA)
With more than 60 years of experience, TRCA is the largest of 36 Conservation Authorities in Ontario, created to safeguard and enhance the health and well-being of watershed communities through the protection and restoration of the natural environment and the ecological services the environment provides. Well over ten percent of Canada’s population (five million residents) live within TRCA-managed watersheds, and many others work in and visit destinations across the jurisdiction. These nine watersheds, plus their collective Lake Ontario waterfront shorelines, span six upper-tier and 15 lower-tier municipalities. Some of Canada’s largest and fastest growing municipalities, including Toronto, Markham and Vaughan, are located entirely within TRCA’s jurisdiction.

Media Contact:
Michael Tolensky
Chief Financial and Operating Officer
Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA)
416-706-9093 |