The Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition is one of the groups around the lake ringing alarm bells about an ancient, and ill-conceived highway building proposal that would bisect the Holland Marsh, one of the watershed’s most significant wetlands, and harm water quality.
The Bradford Bypass is a proposed 16.2-kilometre highway connecting Highway 400 in Simcoe County and Highway 404 in York Region, in southern Ontario.
As proposed by the province of Ontario, it will follow the streamlined assessment process as set out in Ontario Regulation 697/21. The Government will carry forward a 1997 environmental study that pre-dates the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan, the Greenbelt Plan, Source Water Protection Plan, and any serious discussion of climate change. Government reliance on environmental studies almost a quarter century old concerns many environmental experts.
Considering building this highway comes with steep costs:
- increased emissions that contribute to climate change and air pollution
- severe water pollution issues that will harm fish habitat in Lake Simcoe
- paving over wetlands and Greenbelt lands
- increased road salt pollution in the Holland Marsh and the lake’s waters
- raised levels of the carcinogen benzene beyond what’s now allowed
- construction costs are still estimates, but it could be two billion dollars – money we don’t have nor want to waste.
As well, research has shown that building new roads does not actually reduce traffic congestion. If you build more highways, this open space fills up quickly and traffic is back to a crawling pace. This phenomenon, known as “induced demand,” has been proven to happen over and over again.
What’s more, a recent front page story in the Toronto Star exposed the relationship between developers, who own land next to the highway, and their donations to the current provincial government. As a result, some have called for the Provincial Integrity Commissioner to investigate this relationship.
In sum, this highway is bad for the environment, public health, the provincial treasury, and has not been demonstrated to alleviate current and future traffic woes.
Working with our friends at the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, we will be implementing legal, educational, and mobilization strategies to protect important habitat and to prevent climate-changing pollution. Your donation can help protect and restore Lake Simcoe.