Connecting Lake Simcoe's Community

Nov 4, 2021 -- In a climate crisis of existential proportions, it is incumbent on groups like ours to challenge the thinking that puts highway building first, in order to protect Ontario’s Greenbelt, Lake Simcoe, fresh water, human health and our climate, local environmental groups say.

Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition and the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition issued this comment in reaction to the inclusion of the Bradford Bypass in Ontario's fall economic statement.

Highway building is based on an outdated approach to economic development that ignores the costs of the health and environmental impacts of polluting activities. Spending taxpayer money to protect the environment after the damage is done is the most costly way to protect what matters most to Ontarians. We would prefer that a robust environmental assessment were undertaken to evaluate risks and impacts, and to determine how best to avoid those impacts.

That is not what is being done, however.

The province exempted themselves from the Environmental Assessment (EA) process in mid October 2021 and will build an interchange at Yonge St. before technical studies about the actual bridge construction are complete. They are using 24 year old studies, most of which have not been updated. This is as far from a robust EA as one can imagine.

The MTO has misled municipalities all over the watershed, about the EA process they planned to undertake, only to then exempt themselves from most of the process they said they would follow. (See below - link to MTO presentation to Bradford West Gwillimbury Council in April 2021.)

Similarly, today’s claims about GDP, job creation and travel time savings have not been substantiated. The only documents released publicly show that 400 and 404 congestion will be worse with the Bypass than without, by 2041.

Based on information gathered through the Freedom of Information, the government is building a business case to make this a toll highway. This is not what locals are expecting; they too have been misled by the MTO.

Those who are supportive of this highway are building an economy for the 1950s, not for the future.  While global leaders recognize that climate change is the greatest economic and public health threat and, accordingly, make commitments to not remove forests, wetlands and protect water to give our economy and people the best chance, we have initiatives here that counter that science and only put our region, Lake Simcoe and its economy at greater risk.

Councils should weigh in again about their support for this project. The Mayors and Councils that happily go along supporting misinformation are not doing due diligence for the people, and the lands, they were elected to serve. 

Media release courtesy of Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition and the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition.

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