Ontario to Review Greater Toronto Area West Corridor Project
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Summer 2017 Update

In December 2015, the Ministry of Transportation suspended its work on the Environmental Assessment of the Greater Toronto Area West Highway Corridor (GTA West). An advisory panel was appointed to assist the ministry in reviewing the GTA West project. The panel was tasked with providing advice on the need for the GTA West corridor, in light of recent changes in government policy and transportation technology that could impact the demand for travel.

The panel has completed its advice and has submitted a report to the Minister of Transportation. The Minister is reviewing the panel’s advice and is committed to providing an update on the future of the GTA West Corridor shortly.

While the government is developing its response, lands in the GTA West focused analysis area will continue to be protected.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have any accessibility requirements in order to review the material on this page, please contact one of the project team members listed on the Project Contacts page of the website or call the toll-free telephone line at 1-877-522-6916.

1. What is the purpose of this study?

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) is undertaking Stage 2 of the Environmental Assessment (EA) Study for the GTA West transportation corridor. Building on the recommendations from Stage 1, the EA Study will identify the route, determine interchange locations and complete the preliminary design for a new transportation corridor within the Route Planning Study Area. The new transportation corridor will include: a 400-series highway, transitway and potential goods movement priority features.

The GTA West transportation corridor is vital transportation infrastructure that will help meet the projected growth in both population and employment identified in the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (2006), and will deliver multiple benefits including:

  • Greater connectivity between urban growth centres;

  • Enhanced people and goods movement;

  • Improved commuting; and,

  • Greater economic vitality.

The GTA West Transportation Corridor Planning and EA Study is being undertaken as an Individual EA in accordance with the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act (EA Act) and the GTA West Corridor Environmental Assessment Terms of Reference, which was approved by the Ontario Minister of the Environment on March 4, 2008.

2. What are the recommendations from Stage 1?

The Stage 1 Transportation Development Strategy was completed in November 2012. It recommended a multimodal strategy including:

  • Optimizing the existing transportation network;

  • Improving non-roadway transportation modes such as transit and rail;

  • Widening of existing highways; and

  • A new transportation corridor

Further details on the specific recommendations of the Transportation Development Strategy developed during Stage 1 can be found in the Transportation Development Strategy Report, which is available for download in the Archive section.

Please note that the ministry is in the process of prioritizing the recommendations from Stage 1. However, even with optimizing the existing transportation network, widening existing highways, and the transit expansion projects identified in Metrolinx’ Regional Transportation Plan, additional road capacity is needed.

Stage 2 of this study focuses on the recommendation for a new transportation corridor extending from Highway 400 in the east to the Highway 401/407 ETR interchange area in the west, that includes a 400-series highway, transitway, and potential goods movement priority features.

3. Why is a highway-based solution needed – why can't we just expand transit initiatives and improve other modes of transportation?

Stage 1 of the Environmental Assessment (EA) focused on taking a broader look at the transportation needs in the western Greater Toronto Area (GTA). As part of this process, the Stage 1 project team identified a number of transportation problems and opportunities, and considered a range of potential multi-modal transportation solutions to address the problems and opportunities identified.

Our transportation forecasting was based on the assumption that all transit projects identified in Metrolinx’ Regional Transportation Plan The Big Move (2008) would be implemented. Even with these transit improvements, our transportation forecasting indicated that the highway component of the GTA West transportation corridor is needed to support the growth in population and employment that is coming to this region. As such, Stage 2 of this EA continues with a focus on identifying the route and developing the preliminary design for a new transportation corridor within the identified study area.

The process used during Stage 1 followed a two-stage approach that began with a comprehensive assessment of all of the individual modes of transportation alternatives, including transportation demand management, transportation systems management, transit, freight rail, inter-modal (i.e. transportation of freight in a container or vehicle using multiple modes of transportation like rail, ship, or truck without any handling of the freight itself when changing modes), air, marine, as well as roads and highways, to assess their ability to address the future transportation problems and opportunities. Several alternatives were developed for each individual mode of transportation, and these alternatives were subsequently combined into a broader multi-modal network alternative based on a "building block" approach.

The philosophy of this approach was premised on first including alternatives that would optimize the existing transportation network, followed by non-roadway infrastructure improvements (e.g. freight rail, transit, air, etc.), followed by expansion of the existing highway network. At each stage, the team stopped to assess whether the alternative was capable of fully assessing the transportation problems and opportunities. In this way, a new highway corridor was only considered after the potential for all other modes of transportation, and the expansion of the existing highway network were fully considered and accounted for.

Ultimately, the findings of this work indicated that while there were opportunities to optimize the existing transportation network, improve non-roadway modes of transportation and expand the existing highway network, a new highway corridor extending from Highway 400 in the Regional Municipality of York to the vicinity of the Highway 401/407 ETR interchange in the Regional Municipality of Halton was still required to address the future transportation demands.

4. What is the study area for Stage 2?

The Route Planning Study Area for Stage 2 encompasses an area that extends westerly from Highway 400 between Kirby Road and King-Vaughan Road to Highway 401 in the vicinity of the Highway 401/407 ETR interchange.

Map of the GTA West Route Planning Study Area.

5. What is the study process and what are the key steps for Stage 2?

The study is being undertaken as an Individual Environmental Assessment (EA) in accordance with the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act (EA Act) and the GTA West Corridor Terms of Reference (ToR), which was approved by the Ontario Minister of the Environment on March 4, 2008.

GTA West Stage 2 Overall Study Process.

Consultation opportunities including Public Information Centres (PICs) and Community Workshops will be held throughout the study to allow interested stakeholders to comment on the alternatives that are generated, as well as the Project Team’s assessment and evaluation of the alternatives, and the selection of the preferred alternative.

6. Under what authority is MTO conducting this Environmental Assessment Study?

The GTA West Transportation Corridor Planning and Environmental Assessment Study is being undertaken as an Individual EA in accordance with the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act (EA Act) and the GTA West Corridor Environmental Assessment Terms of Reference, which was approved by the Ontario Minister of the Environment on March 4, 2008.

7. I see "GTA West" referenced in a variety of studies, reports, and maps. Why are there so many GTA West studies?

Municipalities and other stakeholders may be conducting planning studies within MTO’s GTA West Route Planning Study Area. The planning for the GTA West transportation corridor and the ultimate identification of the preferred route is the responsibility of the province of Ontario (MTO). If you see references to "GTA West", remember:

  • MTO is considering the findings of these other studies, however they are only one of many considerations in the study;

  • MTO’s GTA West Study Area is over 50 km long, includes 10 municipalities, and many environmental and community features to consider; and

  • As a result, MTO’s recommendation may differ from those of other planning studies.

Look for our logo to be sure you are getting the most up-to-date information about the GTA West Study.

8. What are some benefits of the GTA West transportation corridor?

100,000 people and 80,000 jobs will be added per year in the Greater Golden Horseshoe between 2011-2031. This will result in approximately 1.5 million additional trips (cars and trucks) per day in the GTA West study area by the year 2031. Without changes, by 2031 the average commuter times are expected to increase by 27 minutes a day. The GTA West transportation corridor will help to address the transportation problems and opportunities, resulting in other benefits for communities and economic development because it will:

  • Help to accommodate future travel demand;

  • Reduce travel times for commuters and goods movement;

  • Provide greater connectivity between urban growth centres, with both transit and highway facilities;

  • Provide better connections to residential and employment lands;

  • Address the needs for goods movement in the west GTA and regions beyond;

  • Help to accommodate ‘just in time’ delivery for goods movement (i.e. suppliers help in controlling inventory costs by reliably getting products to the customer just before the customer needs them);

  • Provide greater economic vitality; and

  • Provide an alternate route in the event of an incident or road closure on local and regional roads.

The overall demand that would be served by the GTA West transportation corridor is over 300,000 auto vehicles trips per day in 2031, and the transportation will provide relief of traffic on local roads and parallel highways.

9. What is the relationship between this study and the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, and the Places to Grow Act?

In June 2006, the then Minister of Public Infrastructure Renewal (now split into the Ministry of Energy and Ministry of Infrastructure) released the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (the Growth Plan). The Growth Plan outlines a set of policies for managing growth and development and guiding planning decisions in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. It is accompanied by the Places to Grow Act (2005), which requires that planning decisions made by the province, municipalities, and other authorities conform to the policies contained in the Growth Plan. The GTA West Transportation Corridor is identified in the Growth Plan as a “Future Transportation Corridor”, and represents a strategic link between the Urban Growth Centres in the west of the Greater Toronto Area, including Downtown Milton, Downtown Brampton, and the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre. This study has been initiated to further develop this transportation corridor by identifying a preferred route and interchanges.

10. The Stage 2 Route Planning study area encompasses portions of the Greenbelt. Can the new transportation corridor go through the Greenbelt? How will MTO address the impact on the Greenbelt?

Section 4.2 of the Greenbelt Plan recognizes that “infrastructure is important to economic well-being, human health and quality of life in southern Ontario and the Greenbelt” and that “new and/or expanded facilities will be needed in the future to serve the substantial growth projected for southern Ontario.”1

The Greenbelt Plan permits existing, expanded or new infrastructure in the Greenbelt provided that the infrastructure serves “the significant growth and economic development expected in southern Ontario beyond the Greenbelt by providing for the appropriate infrastructure connections among urban growth centres and between these centres and Ontario’s borders”1

A new corridor crossing of the Greenbelt cannot be avoided as lands with the designation are located throughout the study area, and particularly around the Humber River Valley there are designated lands that run north to south throughout the study area.

The Route Planning Study Area provides for a number of potential crossing opportunities at locations where key natural features cannot be avoided (i.e. major valleys and rivers) so that multiple crossing alternatives can be examined. This study is being conducted within the framework of existing policy, including the Growth Plan, the Greenbelt Plan, and the planning initiatives of the various municipalities that comprise our study area The project team, in consultation with the Greenbelt Transportation Advisory Group (GTAG), drafted the Guideline for Planning and Design of the GTA West Corridor Through the Greenbelt during Stage 1 of the study. The Guideline identifies key planning and design principles and recommendations for mitigation measures for placing new or expanded provincial highways/transitways within areas of the Greenbelt, in the GTA West study area. Key elements include:

  • Impact avoidance, where possible;

  • Community sensitive design;

  • Consideration of impacts to road ecology and wildlife;

  • Consideration of impacts to agriculture;

  • Stormwater management; and

  • Flexibility with geometric and bridge design to reduce impacts.

Recommendations from the Guideline are being considered and implemented during route planning and preliminary design of the GTA West transportation corridor where impacts to Greenbelt areas are unavoidable. The Guideline is available for download on the Reports Page.

11. What will the new corridor look like?

The new corridor is anticipated to be a 4- to 6-lane highway (within a 110m right-of-way) with a separate adjacent transitway (within a 60m right-of-way). Transitway stations will be located at key interchanges and connection points.

12. Describe the transitway component of the project

The transitway will be developed as a separate designated right-of-way (roadway) for buses. Transitways allow for efficient bus transit systems, so that certain bus routes can operate on express schedules without having to stop at crossing roads and signals, or mix with the general traffic on the highway lanes. Transitway stations will be located at certain interchange areas where transit riders can park or be dropped off.

13. Does this transitway replace the 407 transitway?

No. The transitway that is part of the GTA West transportation corridor will be a new system implemented by the ministry.

14. How will you attract trucks to the GTA West transportation corridor?

Stage 1 identified the need for improved goods movement (connections and reliability). The following goods movement priority features are being considered:

  • Truck only lanes;

  • Combined truck/transit lanes;

  • Truck use of potential HOV lanes during off-peak hours;

  • Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) features, such as variable message signs and real time traveler information;

  • Longer speed change lanes;

  • Enhanced design to accommodate Long Combination Vehicles;

  • Truck only interchange ramps, where warranted by truck volumes;

  • Truck parking facilities; and

  • Enforcement features (weigh and inspection stations), including automated weigh stations.

15. What is the status of the Halton Peel Boundary Area Transportation Study (HPBATS), and is there a GTA West route alternative that is similar to the route recommended by the HPBATS?

The HPBATS recommended road network included a Halton-Peel Freeway from the Highway 401/407 ETR interchange west of Ninth Line to Mayfield Road. The ministry has taken over the responsibility of this study, and some of the potential GTA West route alternatives reflect the essence of the HPBATS recommended road network.

16. What is the status of the Highway 427 Extension and will the GTA West transportation corridor connect to Highway 427?

The extension of Highway 427 to Major Mackenzie Drive has been approved. The GTA West Project Team is exploring alternatives to connect Highway 427 to the GTA West transportation corridor. Alternatives were shown at Pubic Information Centre #1 and materials are available for download on the Public Information Centres and Community Workshops page. This connection will be included as part of the GTA West Study.

17. What is Highway 413?

The GTA West Project Team is aware that some stakeholders are referring to the GTA West transportation corridor as Highway 413. The GTA West transportation corridor does not have an official name yet, and if stakeholders are reviewing report, studies or maps that make reference to a Highway 413, they should be redirected to a GTA West project website for the most up-to-date and accurate information about this study.

18. What design speed is the project team using for the GTA West transportation corridor?

The project team is using a 120 km/hr. design speed.

19. When will stakeholders know where the new highway will go?

The preferred route for the new transportation corridor will be presented at the second round of Public Information Centres. While preliminary design of the corridor will still be required to identify specific property impacts, stakeholders will have a good indication of where the new transportation corridor will be located at that time. At the third round of Public Information Centres, , the Project Team will present the preliminary design of the preferred alternative, which will identify the associated potential property requirements. When the date of Public Information Centre #2 is confirmed, notification will be posted on the Notices page and sent to those on the project contact list. Please visit the Contact Us page to contact the project team and be added to the project contact list.

20. How many years will it take for the preferred corridor to be constructed?

The study is currently in the planning and preliminary design phase, which represents an early stage of the overall process, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2018. The planning and preliminary design phase will culminate in an Environmental Assessment (EA) Report, which will be made available for public review. The EA Report will also be reviewed by the Minister of the Environment.

Following the review of the EA Report, and if EA approval is obtained, the corridor will be protected, and the ministry can proceed to the detail design stage. This stage generally involves engineering tasks such as surveying, testing for soil conditions, determining construction material requirements, and developing the design details for the new highway, interchanges, bridges, etc. The detail design phase will take several years to complete, and it is possible that the corridor will be divided into multiple detail design studies.

Currently there is no commitment to a timeline for detail design and construction. The timing and duration of highway construction depends on numerous factors, including size and complexity of the project, funding availability, and timing of environmental clearances and permits.

21. What happens if my land is impacted? How will I be compensated?

In general, property acquisition is intended to be a negotiated settlement that is agreeable to both parties. Compensation is based on providing fair market value for your property at the time that the property is acquired. Fair market value is based on what similar land might be expected to sell for if sold on the open market by a willing seller to a willing buyer. MTO staff will be available at Public Information Centres to discuss property concerns.

22. Is the GTA West transportation corridor protecting for a Hydro One corridor?

The Ministry of Transportation and Hydro One are each undertaking separate but coordinated Environmental Assessment studies. The GTA West Study is at a later stage of the process, having already developed an EA Terms of Reference which was approved in 2008, and having completed the need and justification phase of the EA (Stage 1) in 2012. In contrast, Hydro One is starting their EA process with the preparation of a Terms of Reference.

The GTA West Study and the Hydro One Study are separate because each has specific needs, issues, processes, consultation requirements and schedules. We will continue to seek opportunities to coordinate with Hydro One throughout this study, but ultimately it is envisioned that the GTA West study will only seek to protect property required for the construction of the transportation corridor, including the proposed transitway.

23. Will the GTA West transportation corridor be tolled?

No decision has been made at this time. Tolling is an implementation issue that will likely be determined at a late stage of this study or subsequent studies. The traffic forecasting being done as part of Stage 2 of this study reflects a non-tolled roadway.

24. What is the cost of the GTA West transportation corridor?

High level construction costs will be developed to support the evaluation of the short list of route alternatives. More specific cost estimates will be developed when a preferred route is selected.

25. What are the elements of the Consultation and Engagement Program?

Stakeholder involvement is encouraged. The consultation program features multiple outreach tools and points of contact, including Public Information Centres (3 rounds), Community Workshops (4 rounds), as well as meeting with First Nation and Métis Councils/Communities, municipal and agency stakeholder advisory groups and working groups (e.g. Municipal Advisory Group, Municipal Executive Advisory Group, Greenbelt Transportation Advisory Group, Regulatory Agency Advisory Group), the project website (www.gta-west.com), the project Twitter site (@GTAWestStudy), and the project toll-free telephone line (1-877-522-6916).

26. What is the purpose of the CAG and GTAG?

The Community Advisory Group (CAG) comprises members of the public who have an active interest in the project. The CAG will meet at key milestones to discuss study findings, provide advice and suggestions on project ideas, provide a sense of community reactions and concerns, identify potential challenges and opportunities in a timely fashion and help identify satisfactory outcomes.

The Greenbelt Transportation Advisory Group (GTAG) comprises stakeholders with a specific interest in environmental impacts in the Greenbelt planning area. The GTAG will meet at key milestones to share information regarding key environmental and agricultural features, impacts and mitigation approaches for new infrastructure in the Greenbelt.

27. What First Nation & Métis Communities and Councils are the project team engaging?

The GTA West Project Team is engaging and considering the interests and values of the following First Nation and Métis Communities and Councils:

  • Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation

  • Alderville First Nation

  • Curve Lake First Nation

  • Hiawatha First Nation

  • Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation

  • Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation

  • Chippewas of Rama First Nation

  • Beausoleil First Nation

  • Six Nations of the Grand River Territory First Nation

  • Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council

  • Huron Wendat Nation

  • Kawartha Nishnawbe First Nation

  • Credit River Métis Council

  • Oshawa and Durham Region Métis Council

  • Métis Nation of Ontario

28. How is the GTA West Study considering the proposed TransCanada projects that are in the GTA West study area?

Since the beginning of our study, initiated with the approval of the Environmental Assessment (EA) Terms of Reference in 2008, the GTA West Project Team has been closely coordinating with known projects in the study area. In late 2014, the project team was made aware of TransCanada PipeLines Limited’s (TCPL) Vaughan Mainline Expansion (VME) Project in the vicinity of the Humber River. The King’s North Connection (KNC) Project is also in the vicinity of the GTA West corridor at the Highway 427 Extension and Major MacKenzie Drive . TCPL has identified a preferred route for the VME, and a section of the VME proposed natural gas pipeline is located within the GTA West Route Planning Study Area and has instances of overlap with the short list of route alternatives for the GTA West Study. Once the preferred GTA West route is determined, the project team will have a better understanding of overlap points between the proposed highway, transitway and interchange ramps and the proposed VME Project.

In a common interest to provide the best outcome and reduce overlap between these projects, the GTA West Project Team is working with TCPL and is exploring opportunities to coordinate the planning of the GTA West transportation corridor with the planning of TCPL’s projects. However, the GTA West Study and the TCPL projects have some key differences which make full coordination challenging:

Different Regulatory Processes and Schedules:

  1. The GTA West Study is a provincial project being completed by the Ministry of Transportation as an Individual EA under the Ontario EA Act in accordance with the approved Terms of Reference (approved in 2008). The GTA West Study is in Stage 2 of the process (i.e. planning and preliminary design stage) which is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018. This is a transparent and rigorous process that is comprehensible, systematic and traceable. Between now and the end of 2018, the project team will be refining alternatives, assessing and evaluating alternatives, selecting a preferred alternative, and designing the preferred alternative to a preliminary design level of detail including appropriate mitigation and compensation measures. This will include accommodating TCPL projects as being pursued currently. It is possible that the GTA West Project will be required to make provision for TCPL projects adding to project costs, impacts and property requirements. Similarly TCPL will be accommodating MTO’s project in similar ways. Stakeholder consultation is a key component of each of these technical milestones. In 2018, the project team will submit an EA document to the Environmental Approvals Branch for review and decision by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC). The MOECC will coordinate public and government review of the EA document and the Minister and Cabinet will make a final decision on the EA.

  2. The KNC and VME projects are federally regulated projects, and are subject to a federal regulatory process before the National Energy Board (NEB). The NEB will make a decision under s.58 of the National Energy Board Act (NEB Act) as to whether the projects are in the public interest after considering socio-economic, environmental, engineering and safety issues. This process occurs under a faster timeline than that followed by the GTA West Project Team. There are opportunities during the process to address issues with project overlap. Please refer to the following link for more details on the regulatory process for the KNC and VME projects: https://www.neb-one.gc.ca/index-eng.html.

Different Anticipated Impacts:

The infrastructure requirements and nature of the impacts anticipated for the GTA West transportation corridor and TCPL’s natural gas pipeline projects are different. TCPL requires a significantly smaller right-of-way (approximately 18m) than the GTA West transportation corridor (approximately 170m), and TCPL may have the option of horizontal directional drilling at significant depth when crossing sensitive natural features. The GTA West transportation corridor requires a 170m right-of-way and impacts from the GTA West transportation corridor will mostly be visible at ground level. The GTA West route alternatives that must cross sensitive natural areas are being developed in keeping with the principles identified in the Guideline for Planning and Design of the GTA West Corridor Through the Greenbelt (see our website), and/or with stakeholder input to minimize impacts to sensitive features and lands.

The GTA West Project Team is undertaking field investigations during 2015 starting in the spring. Ecological field investigations are being undertaken to inventory natural environmental features and assess their significance. Representatives from TCPL will also be undertaking separate field investigations in 2015 for their new VME project. Due to the differing study areas, infrastructure needs, potential impacts, and schedules, the data being collected for the GTA West Study will be different from what will be collected by TCPL, and as such stakeholders may see project team members from the GTA West Study (if permission to enter is granted) and TCPL in their area or on their properties doing different kinds of work.

For more effective coordination between the two projects, the GTA West Project Team has advised TCPL to postpone the selection of their preferred route for the VME until the GTA West Study has completed route selection and provided suitable consultation opportunities. It is recognized that there are different regulatory and construction processes and construction schedules for the two projects. The GTA West Project Team will continue to support future coordination with TCPL, and we remain focused on delivering on our schedule commitments and to providing recommendations that are strategically sound, evidence-based and that fully consider the complexity of the initiative

29. How is agriculture being considering in the GTA West Study?

Collection of agricultural Information
The project team has collected information on the existing and future agricultural conditions in the GTA West Study area from a variety of sources, including:

  • Provincial Plans (e.g. The Greenbelt Plan, Provincial Policy Statement).

  • Municipal Official Land Use Plans and schedules.

  • Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) resource maps, guidelines and data sets.

  • Regional and local agricultural federations.

  • Aerial photography.

  • Review of Land Evaluation and Area Review (LEAR) studies.

  • 2014 and 2015 Field investigations.

  • GTA West Study Agricultural Operations Survey: the project team further engaged agricultural land owners and users by distributing an Agricultural Operations Survey in June 2015 (available on the project website and distributed through the York Federation of Agriculture, Halton Federation of Agriculture, Peel Federation of Agriculture, Peel Agricultural Advisory Working Group, Halton Agricultural Advisory Committee, York Region Agricultural Advisory Liaison Group, and Ontario Federation of Agriculture).

  • Consultation with various agricultural stakeholders, including operators in the study area and agricultural representatives on the GTA West advisory groups (e.g. Regulatory Agency Advisory Group, Community Advisory Group, and Greenbelt Transportation Advisory Group).

Information gathered has included:

  • Areas slated for future development and areas to remain agricultural in the future.

  • Soil capability for agriculture.

  • The primary use and size of agricultural properties.

  • Additional lands used in each agricultural operation (location, size, use).

  • Tile drainage (location, type of system).

  • Which roads are used (machinery movement) and frequency of use (daily, seasonal).

  • Buildings and structures associated with operations (type, size, age).

  • What crops are grown and crop rotation.

  • Plans to increase, decrease or maintain the current size of operations.

  • Whether operations are certified for organic production.

How agricultural information is being used
During Stage 1 of the study the project team, in consultation with the Greenbelt Transportation Advisory Group (GTAG), drafted the Guideline for Planning and Design of the GTA West Corridor through the Greenbelt which includes recommendations of strategies to reduce impacts to sensitive lands, including agricultural areas. Recommendations from the Guideline are being considered and implemented during route planning and preliminary design of the GTA West transportation corridor where impacts to Greenbelt lands cannot be avoided. The Guideline is available for download on the project website at http://www.gta-west.com/reports.html

Agricultural information gathered during Stage 2 has been incorporated into an Agricultural Existing Conditions Map and a Future Land Use map. These maps are regularly updated and are being referenced when assessing and evaluating route and interchange location alternatives.

Agricultural Operations Survey results are being used to fully understand the impacts to agricultural lands, practices and linkages and to help identify what factors should be given emphasis in the evaluation of route and interchange location alternatives. For example, feedback has indicated that it is important to avoid impacts to high investment agricultural operations.

How agriculture is being considered in the evaluation of short listed route and interchange alternatives
The project team is undertaking a rigorous and comprehensive evaluation of the short listed route and interchange location alternatives. Impacts to farm lands and farm operations are considered under multiple factors and sub-factors in the Summary of Evaluation Factors and Criteria for Alternative Methods (August 2015), including but not limited to:

  • 2.1.2 Provincial / Federal Land Use Planning Policies/Goals/ Objectives and 2.1.3 Municipal (local and regional) Land Use Planning Policies / Goals / Objectives: consider Impacts to agricultural lands

  • 2.4.2 Agriculture/Specialty Crop: considers Canada Land Inventory soil classes, specialty crops/cropland, dairy/livestock operations, field crop operations, high investment agricultural operations, and established agricultural farm communities, and specifically considers: property impacts including encroachment, severance, fragmentation of a parcel, and displacement; long-term alteration/disruption; change in area character/aesthetics; nuisance effects; change to access / travel time; change to facilities/utilities/services; and loss of agricultural facility (barns and ancillary buildings).

  • 2.2.4 Commercial / Industrial Uses and Properties: agricultural commercial operations are being counted under this sub-factor, as well as being acknowledged under 2.4.2 Agricultural/Specialty Crop.

  • Factor 1.3 Ecosystem Services: agricultural lands are included in the assessment of ecosystem services. We recognize and will capture services provided by agricultural lands for non-market values (e.g. recreation, pollination) through this assessment.

  • Sub-factor 1.4.5 Groundwater-Dependent Commercial Enterprises: impacts to agricultural operations associated with potential alterations to the availability, quantity or quality of groundwater will be considered.

  • Sub-factor 2.2.3 Urban and Rural Residential Uses and Properties: farm residences are included in the count of number of residential dwellings and residential properties directly impacted by each route alternative.

Why agriculture is not a separate factor group
The Reasoned Argument Method is the primary method for evaluating the short listed route alternatives and selecting the preferred route. The Reasoned Argument Method qualitatively compares the advantages and disadvantages of the alternatives and allows the project team to provide rationale (or trade-offs) for why one alternative is preferred over another. With the Reasoned Argument Method, we are able to put as much or as little emphasis on a criterion, whether it is its own factor group or whether it is a sub-factor. Therefore, this method will allow the project team to elevate the consideration of agricultural effects where applicable without the need to create a separate high level factor group. Furthermore, in sections with sensitive agricultural features and where agriculture is expected to be the primary land use in the future, the project team can recognize the importance of these features specifically in the evaluation of that section.





1. Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Greenbelt Plan (2005)

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