The federal government has declined, for a second time, to intervene on Ontario's plans to build the Bradford Bypass, a proposed 16.2-kilometre link between Highways 400 and 404.
The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada has announced it will not revisit its decision to deny a Federal Impact Assessment designation for the Bradford Bypass. The request to review that decision was initiated by three small groups of residents all of which will be affected by the Bradford Bypass: Forbid Roads Over Greenspaces (FROGS), the Concerned Citizens of King Township (CCKT) and the Stop the Bradford Bypass group based in Bradford West Gwillimbury.
Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault confirmed Thursday he would not revisit the decision from his predecessor, Jonathan Wilkinson, because "there have not been any material changes to the project." That, essentially, paves the way for the controversial project to proceed.
Claire Malcolmson, executive director of the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, was unhappy with the decision.
“So this is how we make decisions in the midst of a climate emergency with Lake Simcoe on the brink? We just let bureaucratic inertia and fear of change prevent us from saving ourselves? This decision is beyond disappointing," she said. "Can’t wait to tell the kids how little anyone with the power to change the status quo cares about them and their future.”
In a press release, Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said he was disappointed with decision.
"We need to protect nature, not destroy it," he said.
"The Holland Marsh Highway (Bradford Bypass) should be cancelled. It will pump millions of kilograms of climate pollution into the air each year, tear up protected wetlands and endangered species habitat and pollute Lake Simcoe."
Schreiner says there are better, less environmentally local transportation solutions that the Ministry of Transportation outlined in 2014.
"This highway is not the answer," he said.
Earlier this week in the House of Commons, York-Simcoe MP Scot Davidson pushed for progress on the highway.
"The Bradford Bypass has been in the works for over 30 years - and the need for a faster, safer link between Highway 400 and the 404 has never been more clear," he said. "It's time to get behind the commuters, farmers, and residents in York Region and Simcoe County who are overwhelmingly in support of this important initiative by Caroline Mulroney and the Ontario Government."
Davidson says the highway will fight congestion, create jobs, and make York Simcoe an even better place to live.
"So let's get it built!" he said.
Minister of Transportation and York-Simcoe MPP Caroline Mulroney was pleased to hear the news on Thursday.
"I am proud that the Ontario Government is full steam ahead on the construction of the Bradford Bypass," she said. "This long overdue project is a massive win for drivers, businesses, and farmers in York-Simcoe. The Bradford Bypass will relieve gridlock, unlock access to housing, and help get goods to market faster."