BarrieToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected]. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter from Claire Malcolmson, executive director of the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, is about last week's Bradford Bypass Public Information Centre.
Last week’s Bradford Bypass Public Information Centre, or PIC, was characteristic of the way the government of Ontario is plowing ahead with their pet projects, scattering half-truths, public deception, and reckless impacts in its wake.
First, you would think that AECOM, the multinational consultancy that is running the Bradford Bypass fast-tracked environmental assessment process and consultation for the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, would not be spouting government propaganda.
Alas, they, too, can spin a yarn. One of their consultants said, “This government takes environmental protection seriously."
I nearly fell off my seat. I took to social media immediately. Anyone who has read news in the past five years will know that this government is repealing, gutting, and weakening Ontario’s environmental protections like a scorched earth retreat from a battle the rest of us didn’t know we were having with the earth.
Just like PIC #1, the 'consultation' was on Zoom; participants could not see how many people were on the call, and no one could see anyone else’s questions. Did they even take walk-on questions or just the ones they could vet prior to the meeting? No one on the 'consultation' saw my questions, which went unanswered:
- Is there a legal obligation for MTO to meet any specific air quality standards or greenhouse gas emission targets?
- What evidence do you have that 'this highway will reduce GHG emissions'? What assumptions go into that oft-repeated statement?
- What groundwater policies are applicable? What standards have to be met? Not just who you are talking to.
- Were the salt mitigation measures you mentioned used in the building of the Highway 404 extension?
In the absence of answers from the consultants or the MTO, I’ll tell you why they didn’t answer my questions. They really don't want to. They're just too revealing.
I think everyone would appreciate an old-fashioned town hall, an in-person meeting where people could take their time looking at info boards, ask questions, and hear others’. Perhaps it’s because the province has been so ham-fisted about the entire project; support for the project is falling. Lake Simcoe Watch recently released the results of a November 2022 Oraclepoll survey of 900 York, Peel, Halton and Durham residents, which shows that public support for the Bradford Bypass highway (one-third of which traverses Greenbelt Protected Countryside) has fallen to a weak 20 per cent. The same survey shows that support for building homes on the Greenbelt is only 27 per cent.
The people have spoken. The vast majority want the government to keep their hands off the Greenbelt and stop lying to the people of Ontario; the decline in support for the bypass is just one of the signs that the province has stopped listening to the people.
Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, executive director