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Recently, the provincial government, through provisions in Bill 197, COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, moved to fast-track 400 series highways, such as the Bradford bypass.
Many people in the region are concerned about traffic, particularly in Bradford West Gwillimbury. Research has found, however, that instead of reducing congestion, building highways actually makes it worse.
The Bradford bypass was approved in 2002, nearly two decades before most current provincial policies were in place to protect the natural environment. In the interim, the proposed site has received increasing recognition for its local and provincial environmental significance, leading to the implementation of greenbelt act and Lake Simcoe protections.
When the original study was done, the provincial government found that the Bradford bypass would cause severe impacts to the Lake Simcoe watershed. Some of the project impacts include severe storm water and groundwater contamination, the loss of prime agricultural land, the degradation of one of Ontario’s most important wetlands, and removal of sensitive wildlife habitat.
Furthermore, concerns were raised about the viability of the project due to construction on unstable soils. Noise from the highway would also be a concern for local residents. Additionally, since the EA was approved, local transit systems have changed substantially as a result of Go Transit buses and trains.
Without proper study, the project could threaten the long-term wellbeing of the Lake Simcoe watershed and its residents. Now, the provincial government is trying to rush this project ahead without first completing the necessary studies required to protect human and environmental health.
I urge residents to consider how these issues put you and your children at unnecessary risk. Highways are forever, and we owe it to our children to make sure we get them right.
Sylvia Bowman, former board member Ontario Nature, East Gwillimbury