The Minister of Transportation suspended the highway in 2015 to conduct an environmental assessment and appointed an advisory panel to assess the project. The panel concluded that the highway would save commuters 30 seconds, fail to solve congestion, and undermine community policy goals and provincial commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The highway proposal was rejected in the spring of 2018, then revived later that same year despite the panel offering multiple alternatives that could provide benefits comparable to the proposed highway. For instance, the panel suggested that using existing infrastructure that is currently underused and providing truck priority on Highway 407 would reduce travel time by the same amount.
The proposed highway would span across Halton, Peel and York region, slicing through some of the Greenbelt’s most productive farmland, and invaluable wetlands, headwaters, tributaries and forests.
The Community Climate Council (CCC) is one of many community-based volunteer organizations that oppose Highway 413. Based in Peel Region, the primarily youth-led group advocates for local climate action through enhancing climate literacy and political advocacy.
Youth advocacy is crucial when it comes to local environmental justice issues, such as Highway 413. Members at the CCC, strive to inspire youth in their racialized community about how to use their powerful voices to effect positive change in political spaces, such as council chambers. Their political advocacy team, led by Divya Arora, meets with councillors regularly and delegates at city council on local environmental issues.
“I hope if other youth see us in Council Chambers, they will realize there is no need to feel intimidated. There are politicians who want to support and represent youth, but if the youth aren’t coming forward, then we are left out of the conservation. We need to let our voices be heard.”
To encourage youth to advocate for climate and environmental issues, the CCC hosted two free webinars with Environmental Defence to inform citizens, both from the perspectives of experts and community groups doing grassroots advocacy work. The webinar format was intended to attract youth and be accessible, which was reflective in over 100 Ontarians who registered.
In addition to creating free resources for youth on social media, the CCC joined forces with Youth Coalitions of Canada to develop a free resource guide to climate action, that empowers and educates young Canadians how to infiltrate local policy to enact change as co-designers of the future.
Hopefully youth in other municipalities will represent themselves in local decision-making processes so other municipalities impacted by Highway 413 follow suit.
Miranda is the executive director of The Community Climate Council, and the digital engagement senior coordinator at Environmental Defence. She holds a Master's of environmental studies from York University where she studied the opportunities and challenges of Instagram use in biodiversity conservation. She also researched ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction. Miranda is an experienced environmental educator and public speaker who enjoys hiking, yoga, and tutoring French in her spare time.