Ontario taking legal action to get shovels in the ground on infrastructure projects

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Ontario Construction Report staff writer

Ontario’s Attorney General says the province will ask the courts for a judicial review to stop the federal government from stalling construction on Highway 413, Ontario Place and other major infrastructure projects.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in October that the law dealing with environmental impacts of major developments is unconstitutional because it regulates activities that fall under provincial purview.

Downey will now ask the court to 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,” he said in a statement.

“In the wake of the Supreme Court of Canada’s October 13 opinion that held that the vast majority of the federal government’s duplicative Impact Assessment Act was unconstitutional, our government is taking immediate legal action to bring certainty so that we can get shovels in the ground on infrastructure projects without delay.

With Ontario growing at “an unprecedented speed” Downey says there is also unprecedented pressure on infrastructure and gridlock is costing more than $11 billion each year, and building roads, bridges, highways and public transit is “more important than ever.”

“We need shovels in the ground on the infrastructure that helps get more homes built and the energy infrastructure needed to power our growing economy,” he said.

Affirming the Act’s unconstitutionality by applying for judicial review will ensure that federal decision makers can no longer impede desperately needed infrastructure projects under a law that the Supreme Court of Canada has held to be unconstitutional and bring “legal certainty” to projects like Highway 413, the First Nations-led process to build all-season roads connecting the Ring of Fire region, Ontario Place, housing-enabling infrastructure projects and new and refurbished energy generation and transmission projects, including new nuclear reactors.

“The federal government’s failure to recognize the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling that the Impact Assessment Act is unconstitutional has caused unnecessary confusion across the country,” Downey said in his statement. “Ontario is using the legal tools at our disposal to assert our constitutional authority to move forward on our many critical projects without federal interference. As we do, we will continue to follow our robust and world-leading environmental assessment processes and respect our duty to consult obligations.

“By ensuring that federal decision makers cannot take any further action under an unconstitutional law, we will be able to get shovels in the ground on critical projects without delay and build the infrastructure our growing province and economy need.”

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