Ontario has proposed two large highway expansions in the Greater Toronto Area. The GTA West Project and the Bradford Bypass (or Holland Marsh Highway) would add up to nearly 75 linear kilometres of paved over greenbelt, wetlands, and key wildlife habitat, potentially causing irreversible damage to watersheds. Both highways would lock in car-centred land uses, facilitating sprawl in rural areas and increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
The GTA West project, a proposed 400 series highway in the northwest Greater Toronto Area, will develop several areas protected under the Greenbelt Plan, including woodlands, endangered species habitat, and sensitive wetlands. Critically, the project would cross one of the few remaining undeveloped parts of the Lake Ontario watershed that provides key habitat to at risk species like the redside dace.
The Bradford Bypass is a proposed controlled access freeway located in Simcoe County and York Region in Ontario’s northern Greater Toronto Area. The project would cross the sensitive and biodiverse Holland Marsh wetland and specialty crop area, potentially contaminating groundwater over a much wider area.
On February 3, 2021, several environmental and community groups jointly requested the federal government conduct federal environmental assessments for the two proposed 400-series Ontario highways. These groups included Environmental Defence, Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition and Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition, represented by Ecojustice.
In May, 2021 Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson announced the GTA West Project would be designated for a federal EA, however he failed to designate the Bradford Bypass project for the same critical environmental scrutiny.