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Province asks court to prevent feds from intervening on Highway 413, Ontario Place

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Ontario is asking the courts to stop the federal government from using the impugned Impact Assessment Act to prevent the province from moving ahead with Highway 413 and Ontario Place construction.

The Supreme Court of Canada found earlier this month that the law dealing with environmental impacts of major developments is unconstitutional because it regulates activities that fall under provincial purview.

But it was an opinion, rather than a decision, so Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey says the province is now asking the courts to officially declare the vast majority of the act to be of no force and effect, after the federal minister has said he'll continue to use the law.

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault has said the Supreme Court's opinion doesn't strike down the law and won't change how federal assessments have been conducted, but that he would work to "tighten" the law in the coming months.

Downey says "imminent decisions" are being held up on both Highway 413, set to serve Greater Toronto Area communities including Vaughan and Brampton, and Ontario Place, the waterfront attraction the government is in the midst of redeveloping.

Ontario has applied to the Federal Court for judicial review relating to both projects, and is asking that court to nullify the federal act.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 24, 2023.

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