Bradford Bypass is a blatant misuse of public funds
Joel Wittnebel/The Pointer Files

Bradford Bypass is a blatant misuse of public funds

On May 9th, the PC government proudly announced it has awarded a detailed design contract for the western portion of the Bradford Bypass. We find this most surprising since they are still addressing serious archaeological and groundwater issues in the adjacent central segment of this proposed highway.  

The announcement is about 90 percent propaganda and 10 percent meaningful fact. The only facts that were announced were the $16 million cost to design the western 6.5-kilometre portion of this 16-kilometre highway and the name of the contractor, who not surprisingly, is the same contractor that has worked on this project since 2019. 

This is the less controversial section of the highway from an  environmental perspective. The central portion will be significantly more difficult. One has to question why they have only contracted for the easy portion of the highway at this time. What  are they not telling us about the rest of this planned highway? 

Presumably its cost is the most significant factor. We still have no idea of the construction cost for any part of this highway. It is also purposefully dishonest for our politicians to try to downplay the impacts of the Bradford Bypass by referring to it as a four-lane highway as they did in last week’s announcement. We have already been informed that the highway is being planned as an eight-lane structure. This will significantly increase its total cost, environmental and human impact. If this propaganda is what "get it done" means, Ontarians should have no part of it. 


 A previous investigation by The Pointer found a number of species at risk rely on habitat along the route of the Bradford Bypass.

(Graphic Joel Wittnebel/The Pointer) 


The Bradford Bypass is a blatant misuse of scarce government funds. It received EA approval in 2002 on the explicit basis that the Ministry of Transportation would only address solutions within its mandate for serving long distance travel. “The appropriate municipal government, not the Province, is responsible for intra-municipal transportation.” At that time, MTO’s stated policy was to not mix local with long distance travel. 

The Environmental Assessment Act requires proof of both the need for the highway and justification that the proposed solution is warranted. The solution must be the least environmentally intrusive option after all reasonable alternatives have been evaluated.  

A 1997 EA study was done for policy reasons to protect a corridor for an anticipated future highway. A piece of transportation infrastructure of that magnitude was not needed at that time. Hence, reasonable alternatives, other than four lane, controlled access highways, were not considered in the 1997 study. To satisfy the EA Act, the 2002 EA approval included a condition that required MTO to  undertake a Class EA Study prior to building the highway. That study was initiated in 2019.  

A Class EA Study specifically requires an update of the need for the highway, the current  natural environment and a fresh study of all reasonable alternatives. These alternatives must include: other means of satisfying the demand, such as the Barrie Go Train, as well as regional, municipal and private roads and all reasonable combinations thereof. In response to our request for these updated studies, the province issued its Exemption Regulation in October 2021. This regulation confirms the 2002 EA approval but removes the requirement for the Class EA study.

Connection of Ravenshoe Road to Simcoe line 13, and Queensville Sideroad to Bradford’s 8th Line via Hochreiter Road and Bathurst Street are such reasonable alternatives. York and Simcoe Regions want the Bradford Bypass so they don’t have to pay for the required bridges over the Holland River. If the province would pay for two regional road class bridges over the Holland River the Bradford Bypass would no longer be required thus freeing up some $3-3.5 billion.

Absent these reasonable alternative studies, this highway violates the Lake Simcoe Protection Act. Infrastructure such as this is only allowed if there is no reasonable alternative. Also absent is an Impact Assessment of the long-term consequence of this highway on Lake Simcoe. Not only is  this required by the Act, it has been formally requested by nine local municipal councils, to no avail. Currently, the lake is projected to reach critical sodium (road salt) concentrations within 37 years. This timeframe will be dramatically shortened as a result of the salt runoff from the eight-lane Bradford Bypass.

So, we are now at the point where we will be spending some $4 billion or more to build a 16-kilometre, eight-lane highway with seven interchanges to serve local traffic. The government’s current  justification for this highway is: “Building the Bradford Bypass is necessary to relieve existing congestion on local east-west local roads and to address the expected long-term travel demand in the area”. Nowhere is long distance travel even mentioned! 

Why should all Ontarians pay $4 billion to support unsustainable sprawl development in Bradford and Queensville? 

This money can be much better spent on health care, education and old age support systems. Doug Ford says he is listening to Ontarians some 70 percent of whom see the Bradford Bypass as a misuse of government funds. 

From our perspective, the only Ontarians the PCs are listening to are the developers who will see the value of their land go up by as much as ten times. This has all the  makings of yet another “developer friendly” Greenbelt scandal.  


Bill Foster is the executive director of Forbid Roads Over Greenspaces (FROGS).

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