Leader of the Green Party of Ontario, Mike Schreiner, denounces Doug Ford’s plan for the Holland Marsh Highway. 

On May 6th, Mike Schreiner released a statement regarding the Holland Marsh Highway. He explains that the Highway will come with many environmental costs. Schreiner calls for the project to be cancelled.

If Doug Ford really cared about protecting the Greenbelt, he’d cancel plans for the Holland Marsh Highway.

– Mike Schreiner

Reasons for building the Highway

The Holland Marsh Highway, also known as the Bradford Bypass, aims to reduce congestion in the greater Toronto region. The four-lane bypass would stretch from East to West across York and Simcoe counties. It would connect Highway 400 with Highway 404. Currently, there is no way of getting from one to the other without driving on small local roads or by entering the city of Toronto. The Holland Marsh Highway would be situated just south of Lake Simcoe and would reduce travel time for many private and commercial drivers. 

People in favour of the bypass believe that it must be built in order to address the growing population. The region is expected to increase by 1 million residents every five years. This means more trucks and cars on the road that will only add to congestion. The Bradford Bybass website states that drivers travelling between Highways 400 and 404 would be able to make the trip up to 60 per cent faster compared to existing routes, saving up to 35 minutes each way.

Backlash from the Ontario Greens

There are many people against the project, including the Ontario Green party. The proposed highway is set to pass through the Greenbelt in southern Ontario. The Greenbelt was established to protect farmland, forests, wetlands and watersheds.

The Bradford Bypass website also states that “New and expanded infrastructure proposed for the Greenbelt must meet certain environmental conditions that take into account the sensitive nature of Greenbelt lands”. However, the highway proposal is currently based on assessments made in 1998. Twenty-three years ago climate change was not considered a major threat in the way that it is today. Additionally, the assessment does not take into account the policies that were put in place more recently to protect the Greenbelt.

The leader of the party, Mike Schreiner, released the following statement regarding the projects flaws.

“The Holland Marsh Highway would slice directly through the Greenbelt, damaging 17 hectares of the Holland Marsh and 9.5 hectares of provincially significant wetland.”

-Mike Schreiner
Holland Marsh, Ontario, Canada

As the name suggests, the Holland Marsh Highway would pass over a marsh. Wetlands like these play a vital role in the functioning of the surrounding ecosystem. There are many people in opposition of the highway that refuse to call it the Bradford bypass. 

“We call it the Holland Marsh Highway because it goes straight through the Holland Marsh and because it will destroy wetlands and significant wildlife habitat in the Holland Marsh,” said Jack Gibbons, chair of Lake Simcoe Watch, as reported by CBC

The party believes that due to induced demand, congestion will actually worsen. Consequently, more cars will cause an increase in CO2 emissions and chemical runoff. Shreiner worries not only about the construction itself, but also about the continuous harm that the project will impose on the natural environment. In the same press release, Schreriner added:

“It would also further threaten the health of the already at-risk Lake Simcoe, and create an additional 87 thousand tonnes of climate pollution per year”.

Call to stop the project

The party leader concluded by suggesting other methods of reducing congestion in the area. He disapproves of this project, which is expected to commence in December of 2022. Mike Schreiner explains that infrastructure is necessary, but that there are better ways of achieving it. In the same statement he says:

“Ontario needs smart development and transportation infrastructure that respects our natural heritage. We don’t need more highways that destroy wetlands, farmland and greenspace, pumping more toxic emissions into the air.”

-Mike Schreiner

More on the Ontario Green Party:

Ontario Greens utter an appeal to #BuildBackSmarter from Covid-19

Ontario’s Green Party Leader Asks Provincial Government for More Action amidst COVID-19 Outbreaks

Green Party of Ontario website

Hailey Roop

Hailey is an undergraduate student at McGill University studying Economics and Environment. She is interested in addressing environmental and social issues through community engagement efforts. In her free time, she likes to explore the city of Montreal on foot or by bike!

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