The Ontario Government confirmed today it will be fully funding the Bradford Bypass. Environmental groups continue to call for the project to be scrapped altogether.
On Monday, Premier Doug Ford announced his government is advancing the planning of the bypass, promising a new four-lane freeway that would connect Highway 400 to Highway 404. Ford says the area will experience rapid growth over the next ten to twenty years, and investing in this new corridor help ease congestion. “With both Simcoe County and York Region expected to grow at incredible speed, building the Bradford Bypass is a no-brainer,” said Premier Ford.
Bradford West Gwillimbury Mayor Rob Keffer says local infrastructure hasn’t kept up with the growth the region has already experienced. “As that growth came, starting in the 1980s, investment in an East-West artery between Highway 400 and Highway 404 did not. That didn’t stop traffic. It just meant traffic choked up our downtown, clogged our local roads, resulting in speeding in residential neighbourhoods, exhaust fumes next to downtown restaurants, and commuters stuck in traffic on local roads and rural roads,” said Keffer.
While the province is moving forward with the project, the Green Party of Ontario is urging the premier to halt the process altogether, saying its impact would be detrimental. “The highway would pump almost 87 million kilograms of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions into the air each year,” said Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner. “Urban planning research has long shown that more highways create more congestion, traffic, and emissions through induced demand. We need to crush climate pollution, not create more.”
“According to the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, the four-lane highway would negatively impact over 17 hectares of the Holland Marsh, 39 hectares of wildlife habitat, 11 hectares of designated provincially significant wetlands and cut through 27 waterways. We need to protect Lake Simcoe, not threaten it,” he added.
A joint statement from Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition and the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition claims the bypass will only go to line developers’ pockets, saying much of the surrounding land has already been bought up. “Developers have heavily speculated the land around the Bypass. This will bring more sprawl into the Greenbelt’s Holland Marsh wetland. Their lobbying for the highway to make good on their land speculation distracts from the evidence that shows this highway poses no net benefit to the surrounding communities,” reads the statement.
The proposed highway will extend from Highway 400 between the 8th Line and the 9th Line in Bradford West Gwillimbury and will connect to Highway 404 between Queensville Sideroad and Holborn Road in East Gwillimbury. Preliminary design work and an environmental assessment are underway and are expected to be completed by December of next year.
feature image: Province of Ontario