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LETTER: Province hasn't been up front on Bradford Bypass

'The misinformation and hiding of facts is par for the course,' says Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition official
A vandalized Bradford Bypass sign along Highway 400 is shown in this file photo.

BarrieToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected]. Please include your full name, daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to 'No timeline yet for controversial Bradford Bypass project,' published Feb. 13. 

Can we stop pretending that the province doesn’t have answers about its controversial Bradford Bypass project and instead recognize the misinformation for what it is?

In the article quoted, the journalist outlines that the project doesn’t have a timeline yet. That is simply not true. They have a timeline but chose not to share it.

Freedom of Information requests by the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition show that the province is working on a timeframe of completion no earlier than 2032. These are documents straight from the Ministry of Transportation (MTO). The timeframe was corroborated and reported in the Toronto Star and The Narwhal.

It is shameful that instead of answering council’s questions directly, MTO decided that they’d rather not outline that it could be at least a decade before this highway is ready for use, if it even comes.

To those of us who follow this closely, the misinformation and hiding of facts is par for the course. What else haven’t government officials and consultants been up front about?

Well, for starters, the cost.

The Auditor General reported that this 16-kilometre highway could cost a staggering $2 billion to $4 billion — that’s according to MTO’s own calculations. That’s a whopping $125 million per kilometre you and I will pay for the bypass. That’s using the lower figure. Use the upper end of their estimates (when’s the last time large construction projects came in on budget?) and you get a figure of a quarter-billion dollars. Yes, $250 million per kilometre that taxpayers are on the hook for.

We have the internal documents that show the government knew of this new cost in 2021, prior to them ramming ahead with it. Even so, there was no effort to inform the public that the project’s price tag had ballooned at least 300 per cent from the $800-million estimate project staff and Minister Caroline Mulroney were touting.

This project is still almost a decade away before it’s completed. How much more of our tax dollars is this government going to waste on it?

What else have they not been up front about?

The size of the highway.

We knew there was talk about potentially widening the highway to six lanes. But yet again this seems to be part of an effort to minimize impacts and mislead the public. We know that, in fact, this may be an eight-lane highway — double the size.

This means double the loss of Greenbelt, double the loss of wetlands, double the air pollution and double the noise pollution. Again, this was corroborated and reported in the Toronto Star and Narwhal investigations.

So, instead of the headline making it sound like there’s no information available, let’s call it for what it is — misinformation obstruction, and wasteful use of taxpayers money by this government. Because, like us, they know that in a time when people are wanting solutions — better health care and good use of public funds — communicating the truth of the matter would just expose this highway as another boondoggle — a gas-plant scandal in our own backyard.

Margaret Prophet
Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition, executive director