Members in the road building sector received a boost this week after the federal and provincial governments reached an agreement to move forward with the construction of the long-delayed Highway 413.

The deal means the proposed six-lane, 52-kilometre highway project connecting Halton and York regions can proceed without a fully-fledged federal environmental assessment, which Ontario Transportation Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria said would have extended the delay by about five years.

The federal government had suspended work on the project in 2021 by using its powers under the Impact Assessment Act (IAA), mainly in response to concerns raised by environmental groups about the new route adding to urban sprawl and endangering at-risk species such as the western chorus frog.

After the Supreme Court cast doubt on the constitutionality of the IAA last year, the federal government softened its stance, paving the way for this agreement.

The two levels of government will now form a working group using its “collective expertise” to protect the environment and ensure impacts to species at risk are considered before the project moves into a design stage

As a result, the province now hopes that work on the new highway will begin within the next year.