Ontario Construction News staff writer
While Ecojustice, acting on behalf of Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition and Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition, is asking the federal government for a new environmental assessment for the Bradford Bypass, York Regional Council is sending a letter to the federal government in support of constructing the 16km link between Highways 404 and 400.
Opponents argue that policies have changed dramatically in the 20-years since the project was started and approval for such a large infrastructure project on environmentally sensitive land :-“when the context has changed dramatically is concerning.”
“It is so dated that you have to start over.”
The proposed Bradford Bypass is a 16.2-kilometre freeway connecting Highway 400 and Highway 404 in York and the County of Simcoe. The Environmental Assessment for the project is currently being updated, with approval expected by the end of December 2022.
The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has retained AECOM Canada Ltd. to complete a Preliminary Design and Class Environmental Assessment (EA) Study for the proposed Highway 400 – Highway 404 Link (Bradford Bypass). MTO previously completed a route planning study for the Bradford Bypass in 1997 and a subsequent EA and Recommended Plan were approved in 2002.
The bypass will run between Lines 8 and 9 in Bradford West Gwillimbury, crossing a small portion of King Township and will connect to Highway 404 between Queensville Sideroad and Holborn Road in East Gwillimbury. There are proposed full and partial interchanges, as well as grade separated crossings at intersecting municipal roads and watercourses, including the Holland River and Holland River East Branch. This project will also include the Preliminary Design for the replacement of the 9th Line structure on Highway 400.York Regional Council unanimously supports the highway construction.
“This has been studied and discussed since the late 1980s. We need the infrastructure for the growth that has already occurred,” said Rob Grossi, Georgina regional councillor.
A staff report also supported the project and the process.
“Staff has not been able to identify any instance of the minister exercising their discretion in this manner over a project that would otherwise only be regulated by a provincial environmental assessment process,” the report concluded.
“The Region anticipates the current provincial environmental assessment process for the Bradford Bypass will continue to address environmental, social, economic and health issues as well as necessary public consultation to balance the needs for all community stakeholders.”
The report said the Bypass project fits into York Region’s Official Plan and Transportation Master Plan.
“The Bradford Bypass, also known as the Highway 400-404 Link, supports the Region’s Official Plan and Transportation Master Plan (2016) and is an important component of servicing planned growth in the Region. The Region has long supported the Bradford Bypass Project and has been consulted by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation since the original Individual Environmental Assessment (EA) approved in 2002.”
York Regional Council’s letter to the federal government will support the provincial EA process.