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Ottawa agrees to scrap Highway 413 impact assessment pending judge approval

An aerial photo of Highway 400 in King City, with the Ontario government billboard announcing the future site of Highway 413. A joint filing in federal court shows the two levels of government have agreed to drop an assessment of the project. (Patrick Morrell/CBC News - image credit)
An aerial photo of Highway 400 in King City, with the Ontario government billboard announcing the future site of Highway 413. A joint filing in federal court shows the two levels of government have agreed to drop an assessment of the project. (Patrick Morrell/CBC News - image credit)

Ontario has struck a tentative deal with the federal government to have Ottawa drop an assessment of the province's Highway 413 project.

A joint filing in federal court says the two levels of government have agreed to set aside the project's assessment under the impugned Impact Assessment Act, pending a judge's approval.

Parts of the act were found to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled it was written in a way that could allow the federal government to make decisions about projects wholly within provincial jurisdiction.

On the heels of the top court's decision, Ontario asked a federal court to stop Ottawa from using the law to delay construction of Highway 413 in the western Greater Toronto Area.

The joint filing says both levels of government are "committed to collaborating" to assess the effects of the highway on areas of federal jurisdiction.

Environmental Defence, an environmental group opposed to the highway, says the impact assessment's cancellation would be a "gross abdication" of federal responsibility.