Toronto –The Ontario Greenbelt Alliance is asking the Ontario government to stop a highway extension from Queensville to Keswick, in a letter signed by 32 groups, including Environmental Defence, the David Suzuki Foundation and Ontario Nature. An extended Highway 404 will mean the loss of 60 acres of wetlands and mature forests.
“The provincial government and the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance have worked hard for legislation to protect Ontario’s land, air, and water,” said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director of Environmental Defence, which coordinates the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance.”The proposed highway extension to Keswick would completely undermine the Greenbelt Act, Places to Grow, the Endangered Species Act and the Lake Simcoe Protection Act.”
The proposed extension of the 404 Highway will:
·        Bisect the Protected Countryside of the Ontario Greenbelt and allow growth outside of areas identified in the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
·        Constitute an environmental disaster for the Maskinonge River. The Maskinonge sub-watershed is currently 13% forested, far lower then the 40% natural cover target set by the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan.
·        Dramatically increase the flow of contaminants, such as road salt, into the watershed, including the sensitive Maskinonge River that flows from the protected Oak Ridges Moraine directly into Lake Simcoe.
·        Have a significant impact on a number of identified and protected species, including turtles and plants. The mitigation proposed by the supporters of the highway extension will not compensate for the loss of natural native habitat.
“The environmental destruction that would result from building the 404 extension would be followed by more sprawl and yet more environmental degradation,” said Dan McDermott, Director of Sierra Club Ontario, a member group of the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance. “The 404 plan clearly runs counter to the McGuinty government’s commitment to the principles of the Greenbelt.”
The only full environmental assessment for this extension was completed in 1996 and does not accurately address the true impact of this project, nor does it consider the extension in light of new and important environmental legislation.
About the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance (www.greenbeltalliance.ca): The Ontario Greenbelt Alliance is a diverse multi-stakeholder coalition of organizations who share a common vision for protecting and expanding the Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt. Environmental Defence is the coordinator of the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance.
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For more information, or to arrange, interviews contact:
Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 232; (647) 280-9521 (cell)