Doug Ford setting dangerous precedent with Bradford bypass
From the Toronto Star, January 29, 2022
By Myron Humeniuk
Running roughshod over Environmental Assessment Act a bad move, says Myron Humeniuk
In spite of the fact that the COVID pandemic has dominated the news and our daily lives, it is important to note that growing opposition to a planned highway project is gaining attention and momentum.
The Bradford bypass may not have gained such a level of criticism had the Ontario government not granted this proposal an exemption from the Environmental Assessment Act. Placing an exemption on the environmental assessment is a profound judgment error on the part of Premier Doug Ford.
The Ontario Environmental Assessment Act was instituted by the Bill Davis government in the 1970s in order to ensure development initiatives adhered to strict guidelines to protect the environment. The intent of the act was to plan in anticipation of a need instead of in response to a crisis.
At that time and into the 1990s, it was viewed as such an enlightened piece of legislation that it was adopted as a template for similar laws — not only by other provinces, but internationally, as well.
Running roughshod over this legislation sets a dangerous precedent. It diminishes the overall integrity of all our provincial laws.
Although its 16-kilometre length may seem insignificant, the highway’s repercussions would be severe. As well as negatively impacting and degrading farmlands, aquatic habitats and the greenbelt, it would necessitate the expropriation of food-producing lands and homes.
In addition, the highway would act as a thin edge of the wedge, triggering development of peripheral facilities in the corridor such as gas stations, fast-food restaurants and support roads, thus consuming additional vital lands.
The two-decades-old environmental report that the government is flaunting in support of this ill-advised proposal is outdated and inadequate.
If Transport Minister Caroline Mulroney really wants to leave a positive lasting legacy from her time in office, she would be more favourably remembered if she had the foresight to upgrade and expand GO train services and other public transportation modes instead.
If we continue to pave over essential farmlands, there will be no produce to move to urban markets, and a diminished food supply for us to rely on as we face increasing climatic and political uncertainty in the times ahead.
Myron Humeniuk of Tiny Township is an international development professional and a former member of the Ontario Environmental Assessment Board.
Read the article here