Connecting Lake Simcoe's Community

Local groups say highways, sprawl and undemocratic MZOs are shortsighted.

April 23, 2022 -- A crowd of York Region and Simcoe County residents gathered in front of MPP Caroline Mulroney’s office in Holland Landing for the third time in a year to demand that destructive projects such as Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass should be cancelled and that money invested in healthcare, education and climate action instead.

The rally was opened by Georgina Island First Nation member, Becky Big Canoe and Indigenous drummers.  Becky spoke about a project that she feels directly threatens her community and its wellbeing — the Bradford Bypass.

“We’ve [Georgina Island First Nation] taken a historical stance against this type of development that really doesn’t serve much of Ontario but Doug Ford thinks it's necessary when it really isn’t.  We are going to use whatever power we have as community members to veto it.”

Highways and the sprawl that they bring and the aggregate that they use were the main topics of the rally as well as preserving and protecting the Greenbelt.

Margaret Prophet, Executive Director of the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition spoke about the immense threats that are facing these protected lands.

“There are three highways planned to cut through the Greenbelt - two of them will be around Lake Simcoe. Ontarians could be on the hook for over $10-billion using the low end estimates for the three highways.  So we’re paying a lot of money to destroy significant wetlands and forests, to put more contaminants in our water and add more carbon to the atmosphere.  We’re spending money to destroy life when we should really be spending that money to invest in people, their health, their families, their businesses and their livelihoods.”

Barrie District Labour Council President Michele MacDonald added that transitioning to a green economy is imperative so that we can have a bright future and ensure no one gets left behind. “We need investments in smart, resilient public infrastructure projects like public transit, renewable energy systems, broadband networks, health and social services and education”

Graham Churchill carried that line of thought speaking about the use of Ministerial Zoning Orders (MZOs) which have been used to fast-track sprawling developments that cut public consultation and proper studies out of the picture. “There is an enhanced MZO being put up in my neighbourhood that would create the densest community in North America.  No public input, no process that is open and transparent, just steamrolling over communities and removing their democratic rights to engage in how their community grows.  We can do better than sprawl or massive towers, but we have to stand up now before it gets worse.”

David Jeffery, who represents the Reform Gravel Mining Coalition, outlined similar concerns about the transparency of decisions, but this time of aggregate and mining. “The aggregate industry doesn’t have to justify its demands.  It doesn’t have to pay its fair share but it's allowed to pollute our water, air and run roughshod over our local governments because the law says it can.  We say that we have to reform this industry so that it is more fair, more transparent and less damaging to the communities it inhabits.”

Attendees were reminded that it has always been people that have changed the course of history and that no one should feel powerless in making change just because governments are hesitant.

Claire Malcolmson, Executive Director of Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, said: “We cannot afford to wait for a next time to make a better decision. They have to be made now. How will we fix a toxic Lake Simcoe, contaminated drinking water and sweltering heat waves?  How many more bad decisions do we need to make before we recognize we’ve destroyed our ability to feed ourselves, to breathe clean air, fish the waters or live in beauty? The people created the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan, the Greenbelt and the Oak Ridges Moraine Act.  Working together we can save them too.”

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." ~ Margaret Mead

Article and photo courtesy of Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition.

 

On April 5, 2022, the Ontario government announced that it is awarding a contractor for the early works construction for the Bradford Bypass. 

Read more: Grave concern as province rushes Bradford Bypass build

March 16, 2022 - Environmental groups have launched a lawsuit against federal environment minister over the decision not to do an Impact Assessment on the Bradford Bypass.

Read more: Bradford Bypass at centre of legal action

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