Lorraine Explains: Why Ontario dealers want Ford’s dubious Highway 413 project to proceed
Research shows that more highways don’t reduce congestion, but they do bring more cars
Ontario’s premier is staking his reelection bid next year on, among other things, more roads. Highways to everywhere, because Ontario needs more pavement. He ignores critics whose investigations have revealed the billions that would flow to people deeply connected to the provincial conservative party; the controversial environmental impact on some of the province’s most important wetlands, farmland, and waterways; as well as those people who live in the areas that will be run over in his quest for asphalt dominance.
“The highways are congested everywhere. It doesn’t matter what 400 series highway you take, no matter if it’s the 401, which is like a parking lot or going in the 403 and so on, so forth,” he said [in this TorStar publication ]. “We need more people to get from point A to point B in a much more faster fashion that they can [sic] spend time with their families and we can transport goods from point A to point B.”
Though the federal government pulled the brakes to perform an environmental assessment before the province could doze ahead on the proposed Highway 413, the full-court press by Ford to get going (or, “shovels in the ground”, to be as colloquial as Doug) is hardly surprising. “Eight of Ontario’s most powerful land developers own thousands of acres of prime real estate near the proposed route of the controversial Highway 413, a National Observer/Torstar investigation has found. Four of the developers are connected to Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government through party officials and former Tory politicians now acting as registered lobbyists,” from the article .
Another pet project he’s put jets on is the Bradford Bypass, a 16.2 kilometre section that would connect highways 400 and 404. While the province touts the “much more faster fashion” that drivers can enjoy by using the proposed route, they conveniently left out the tidy fact that the bulldozers would be tearing out homes north of Toronto. What would be saved? A golf course. Why is that of interest? Because it “is co-owned by the father of the Progressive Conservative MPP Stan Cho, who in June became the associate minister of transportation.” Read more here . For a premier who ran on a platform of transparency, his proposed highway calculus (like many , many other projects) is a murky, murky mess.
The Doug Ford government has flopped on so many things — the minimum wage hike he found so abhorrent in 2018? It’s conveniently back now because he’s “for the people (who are about to vote)” — what can we believe anymore? It’s common for every incoming government to bitch and whine about the mess they were left behind by the exiting party, but Ford has even lied about that. Declaring he was left holding the bag of a $15 billion deficit by outgoing Liberals, the province’s financial watchdog pegged it at half that . It’s happened repeatedly, and it makes it difficult to sort fact from fiction when it comes to permanently, irreparably destroying parts of our province with more and more highways.
The bigger problem, however, is one that this government is either unaware of (hard to believe) or doesn’t want to acknowledge: you can’t build your way out of traffic congestion. “ The concept is called induced demand, which is economist-speak for when increasing the supply of something (like roads) makes people want that thing even more,” explains Wired . A study by Matthew Turner of the University of Toronto and Gilles Duranton of the University of Pennsylvania found something that has held true over decades and decades: “[n]ew roads will create new drivers, resulting in the intensity of traffic staying the same.”
This, of course, is why an organization like the Trillium Automotive Dealers Association (TADA) is pushing hard for Ford’s government to build more roads. Despite a pandemic that has annihilated the car industry with global shortages and idling plants, they are fully on board with the following recommendations as reported in Automotive News Canada: