Court ruling ‘important step’ to stop Bradford Bypass: Schreiner
Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner hosted a virtual press conference in February of 2022, calling on Premier Doug Ford to cancel plans for the Bradford Bypass.
From BradfordToday, April 26, 2023
Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said today a recent federal court decision calling the denial of a federal impact assessment unreasonable is “an important step” on the path to thwarting plants to build the controversial Bradford Bypass.
Recently, a court ruled federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault was “unreasonable” when he denied a request from environmental groups to reconsider his decision to not undertake an environmental assessment of the Bradford Bypass.
“This court ruling is an important step along the way to stopping (Premier Doug) Ford’s assault on the places we love, our Greenbelt and Lake Simcoe,” Schreiner said in a media release.
“I call on Minister Guilbeault to commit to a full impact assessment of the environmentally destructive Bradford Bypass,” he added.
The Guelph MPP called Ford’s Bradford Bypass plan “a risky scheme that threatens our environment and quality of life.”
Schreiner said building the Bradford Bypass has never been about making life better for the people of Ontario.
“It’s part of the Ford government’s sprawl-at-all-costs agenda that will see wealthy land speculators make billions while the rest of us pay the price,” Schreiner said.
He noted fewer than 30 per cent of Lake Simcoe-area voters support construction of the highway.
“Locals understand how important protecting Lake Simcoe is to their community. The lake is already at risk, and the highway would further pollute it with salt and phosphorus runoff,” said Schreiner.
“It would increase climate pollution by 87 million kilograms per year, pave over 42 acres of the Holland Marsh, and slice right through the Greenbelt,” he warned.
The Bradford Bypass, a 16.2-kilometre link between Highways 400 and 404, has been a controversial issue.
Caroline Mulroney, the provincial minister of transportation and MPP for York-Simcoe, told BradfordToday in May 2021 that there is “widespread support” for the new highway.
“Both communities that the bypass would run through, York Region and Simcoe County, want it,” she said at the time. “There is widespread support for it among representatives and other stakeholders like the Holland Marsh Growers’ Association.”
She said the province is “fully committed” to the Environmental Assessment (EA) process, “which was always intended to protect the environment and so, while we are streamlining the EA process, that doesn’t mean we are changing the outcome.
“I want to be clear, we aren’t relaxing any environmental protections, we are just looking for ways to update the EA process that will remain protective of the environment but ensure that we can get this vital piece of infrastructure finally built,” Mulroney added.
At the time, the local MPP also said she was “pleased” a new federal impact assessment had not been ordered.
“What it demonstrates is the federal government’s confidence in Ontario’s environmental assessment process, which is among the most stringent of its kind,” Mulroney said.
Claire Malcolmson of the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, says the provincial government has done nothing to reassure the seven municipalities which requested either higher levels of scrutiny for impacts to Lake Simcoe or a federal impact assessment for the project.
“Local municipalities understand how important Lake Simcoe is to our health and regional economy,” said Malcolmson. “They also appreciate how public support for this project has dropped significantly, to just 20%.
“Concerned residents, Indigenous people and Lake Simcoe municipalities know that we can fix traffic woes without destroying the beauty and health of our home. An eight-lane highway is a permanent decision that will plague our waterways, our air and our Greenbelt for generations to come. We cannot afford to get this decision wrong,” Malcolmson said.
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