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Environmental groups raise red flags over Bradford Bypass impact report


Critics of the proposed Bradford Bypass are slamming the province's environmental impact study and the limited 30-day period for public input, calling the entire process a rushed job.

"They're not really thinking about the public's concern. They're thinking about how to get this pushed through quicker," said Margaret Prophet, Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition executive director.

Environmental organizations, including the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition and Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, argue that the 576-page report falls short of its intended purpose.

"We have a lot of questions," noted Claire Malcolmson, the executive director of the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition. "This highway is not going to magically fix the problems with Bradford."

The groups say the report lacks accountability. They emphasized the need for the government to prioritize clean water, air and public health.

"We're talking about exposure to groundwater, wells being contaminated, there's nothing about Lake Simcoe, there's nothing about climate change, we have concerns about air pollution. All these things are kind of outlined as things they could see because of the bypass but very little about what they're going to do because of it," Prophet noted.

The controversial bypass, estimated to cost between $2 and $4 billion, would establish an eight-lane connection between Highways 400 and 404, linking York Region and Simcoe County.

Prophet said she wants full disclosure if the government believes in the merits of the bypass.

"If this is such a great highway project that you can defend publicly, good, release all the information publicly," she stated.

In a statement to CTV News, the Ministry of Transportation said the planning for the bypass has included and continues to include consultation with the public and Indigenous communities "to ensure the project moves forward in an environmentally responsible way that is responsive to the needs and concerns of communities."

The ministry's statement on Monday noted it published the report on June 1 for the public's consideration, which is available until June 30, and that it had provided Indigenous communities and stakeholders "various opportunities for meaningful consultation since the project was re-initiated in September 2020."

Despite the government's eagerness to begin construction, the environmental coalitions say the bypass wouldn't be ready for another decade, suggesting funds instead be allocated toward improving public transportation.

"We need to be building in a way that doesn't support sprawling development. We need to be building, maybe more public transit. Prioritize getting that all-day, two-way GO line working all the way up to Barrie. Get that done," said Malcolmson.

The environmental groups are urging the public to demand accountability and transparency from the government regarding the project's cost and its impact on the environment and the local population.

"We also need to leave this planet in a state that our kids are going to be happy with," Malcolmson concluded. Top Stories

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