The Environment

Learn about the Environmental Assessment process for the Highway 413 Project and how Ontario protects the environment when building new infrastructure.

Protecting The Environment

Environmental and Agricultural Considerations

Ontario’s Greenbelt Plan recognizes the importance of infrastructure for people’s economic well-being, health and quality of life and it permits new projects provided they service the significant growth and economic development expected in southern Ontario. The province is committed to maintaining strong environmental oversight of the Highway 413 Project to minimize impacts on natural terrain. Ontario is also, taking steps to expand the Greenbelt to protect environmental, groundwater and agricultural resources for future generations.

The preferred route for Highway 413 was chosen in part to minimize impacts to the Greenbelt, and as the project moves ahead, Ontario would carefully consider all impacts of the project and its construction. For example, the protection of major watercourses, including the Credit and Humber rivers was a top priority when determining the preferred route. Proposed watercourse crossings would be designed with the intent to minimize the impacts to the watercourses, the valley lands, floodplains, fish habitat, wildlife and trail networks. This would help to minimize the project’s impact, maintain fish passage and habitat, minimize vegetation loss and protect Species at Risk.

Protecting agricultural lands is also a top consideration. While a new transportation corridor cannot completely avoid impacting agricultural land, Ontario will be undertaking an Agricultural Impact Assessment to help understand and minimize the impacts on the region’s agricultural land.

The Environmental Assessment

Ontario’s Environmental Assessment process ensures that governments and public bodies consider potential environmental effects before an infrastructure project begins. All Individual Environmental Assessments must include:

  • accurately describing the undertaking (i.e., project)
  • considering alternatives to the undertaking
  • considering alternative methods for the undertaking
  • consulting with the public
  • detailing impacts and mitigation
  • documenting all of the above for public review

The proposed Highway 413 Project is currently in Stage Two of the Environmental Assessment, which includes identifying the route, determining interchange locations and completing preliminary design for the new corridor.

So far in the Environmental Assessment process, Ontario has undertaken significant data collection, fieldwork and analysis, evaluated alternatives, held numerous community and advisory group meetings, engaged and consulted with Indigenous communities, and determined a preferred route. The following environmental discipline studies are being carried out during Stage Two of the Environmental Assessment:

  • Fish and Fish Habitat
  • Terrestrial Ecosystems
  • Watercourse Crossing Analysis
  • Drainage and Stormwater Management
  • Fluvial Geomorphology
  • Groundwater
  • Landscape Composition
  • Archaeological Assessment (Stages 2, 3, & 4, as required)
  • Built Heritage and Cultural Heritage Landscapes
  • Land Use Inventory
  • Agricultural Impact Assessment (or equivalent study)
  • Contaminated Property Identification and Waste Management
  • Air Quality
  • Noise
  • Snowdrift Assessment

Stage One studied the area and looked at long-term modelling projections to determine if new road infrastructure was truly needed. The study found that even with significant investments in public transit expansion in the region, a new highway corridor would still be needed to keep up with the projected population growth.

Building infrastructure responsibly

In Stage One of the Environmental Assessment, guidelines were developed to identify ways that the impacts on the Greenbelt could be minimized. The guidelines recommend the use of “green” infrastructure and planning, design and construction practices, such as:

  • Community sensitive design
  • Consideration of impacts to ecology and wildlife
  • Consideration of impacts to agriculture
  • Stormwater management
  • Designing features such as bridges to minimize environmental impacts

Environmentally-Friendly Practices and Technologies

Ontario is using and exploring environmentally-friendly practices and technologies while building major infrastructure projects, such as:


A system that rates asphalt and concrete pavement to assess its “greenness.” GreenPave promotes environmentally-responsible design and construction by encouraging the use of alternate fuels, local and recycled materials and reduces energy consumption, air pollutants, harmful emissions and more.

Tree Planting

Ontario supports programs that add new trees along highways and other infrastructure. For example, the Highway of Heroes program has planted nearly one million trees as a living tribute to Canada’s veterans, including more than 52,000 directly alongside Highway 401.

SmogStop Barriers

Ontario is exploring the use of noise barriers that are also designed to reduce air pollution. Emissions from vehicles are directed into channels where they react with a special photoreactive coating to reduce nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds into harmless by-products. The reaction is powered by sunlight and no electrical connections are required.

These methods and others like them can reduce the environmental impacts of Ontario’s major infrastructure projects like Highway 413.

Navigable Waterways

Plans for work in or around any navigable waterway may require authorization from Transport Canada.

A navigable waterway, as defined in the Canadian Navigable Waters Act (CNWA), is “a body of water, including a canal or any other body of water created or altered as a result of the construction of any work, that is used or where there is a reasonable likelihood that it will be used by vessels, in full or in part, for any part of the year as a means of transport or travel for commercial or recreational purposes, or as a means of transport or travel for Indigenous peoples of Canada exercising rights recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and

  • there is public access by land or by water;
  • there is no such public access, but there are two or more riparian* owners or
  • His Majesty in right of Canada or a province is the only riparian owner.”

* Riparian refers to relating to or situated on the banks of a body of water.

Initial Screening

Within the Study Area, the Project Team has identified 24 stream or river locations that may be navigable.

As part of the assessment to initially determine the navigability of the watercourses crossing the proposed Highway 413, Hwy 410 and Hwy 427 extensions, fluvial geomorphic data (channel definition, hydraulic flow regime, and channel dimensions) were used to set the criteria for this initial assessment. This initial screening assessment is based on a previous navigable waters requirement that a channel must be at least 3.00 m wide and about 0.30 m deep across the channel.

The below mapping provides the results of this initial screening assessment. However, further consultation and field investigations will be needed to complete the assessment for the navigability of the initially screened water crossings. Please use the numbering on the map to identify the corresponding watercourse potentially used for navigation.

Provide Your Input

The Project Team requires input from Indigenous communities and members of the public to confirm past, present, or potential future uses of waterways. Please tell us about waterways within the Study Area that you previously or currently use with a canoe, kayak, stand-up paddleboard or other watercraft. This information will help verify the number of current navigable waterways and develop plans to avoid or mitigate any effects the Project may have during construction or operation.

The Project Team will work to avoid and/or minimize potential impacts to navigation and follow the processes outlined in the CNWA. This process will include ongoing consultation with Transport Canada, Indigenous communities and the public as the Project progresses through Preliminary Design.

The survey will be available for a 30-day comment period from July 2nd to August 2nd Input and feedback will be summarized in a finalized report on the Highway 413 website.


    Stand-up paddleboardCanoe/KayakMotorized Boats <5mMotorized Boats 5m to 8mMotorized Boats >8m

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