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'It's silly': East Gwillimbury council concerned about location of proposed Bradford Bypass interchanges

The interchanges are currently proposed on Leslie Street and Bathurst Street while councillors would like one on 2nd Concession
Aug. 4, 2021
Simon Martin

The look of the Bradford Bypass is taking shape as the Ministry of Transportation is in the midst of an environmental assessment update.

There are numerous concerns about the 16.2-kilometre project that would connect Highway 400 to Highway 404. Some residents and environmental groups don’t want it built.

They staged a demonstration outside York-Simcoe MPP and Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney's constituency office in Holland Landing July 24.

“Bradford Bypass, a really bad idea,” chanted attendees from across the Greenbelt region, while waving signs demanding “Stop the Bradford Bypass” and “No More Highways.”

“Building highways is a bad use of natural resources. It takes away farmland and adds to pollution,” said Margaret Prophet, executive director of the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition.

East Gwillimbury council, on the other hand, has voiced support for the project but does have some concerns with the current design.

At the July 26 council meeting, ministry representatives presented the latest update.

Ward 2 Coun. Tara Roy-DiClemente was less than thrilled with the proposed interchanges on Leslie Street and Bathurst Street in East Gwillimbury.

Council had asked the ministry to consider 2nd Concession for an Interchange, as it is a central spine road in the town where a lot of new development is being planned. But an MTO representative said an interchange at 2nd Concession isn't being considered at this time.

“I think it is a little bit silly to plan a highway that isn’t even built when the community that it is to run through is telling you need to revisit the interchange locations,” Roy-DiClemente said.
Ward 1 Coun. Loralea Carruthers agreed, noting Leslie Street has several heritage homes close to the road in Queensville, whereas 2nd Concession is a recently constructed, wide road.

Another concern raised by Ward 1 Coun. Terry Foster is where the bypass is proposed to cross the East Holland River.

Foster said he worked contracts on some of the first soil testing crews for the Bradford Bypass in the 1980s. He said the proposed crossing point, known as the Lower Landing, is the end of the Carrying Place trail.

“Even though I certainly think an east-west bypass is needed greatly, I just hate to see it put through that area before we know a lot more about it,” Foster said.

The ministry said it is aware of the Lower Landing site and is conducting archeological studies in partnership with first nation monitors. There will be in-depth archeological investigations at that site, they told Foster.

Other concerns raised included the route dipping down close to River Drive Park. According to the ministry, that is where the bypass can cross the most narrow portion of the Holland Marsh Provincial Significant Wetland (PSW). The approximate combined length of the Holland Marsh PSW crossing is one kilometre.

Foster asked if the road was going to be a toll road. The ministry has not determined that yet.

The MTO began a Preliminary Design EA Update Study to advance the Bradford Bypass project in September 2020. Interchanges are located at Highway 400, County Road 4, Bathurst Street, Leslie Street and Highway 404. Crossings are at 10th Sideroad, Artesian Industrial Parkway, Metrolinx rail corridor, Yonge Street and 2nd Concession Road. The current plan is to cross Yonge Street and 2nd Concession with overpasses and cross Leslie Street with a partial interchange.

In its presentation, the ministry said the bypass would save motorists approximately 60 per cent in travel time. Approximately 410 comments have been received from stakeholders so far during the EA update. There will be another public meeting in the fall.

Mayor Virginia Hackson said she is very excited about the chance to work with ministry on the project. “We have a Bradford Bypass going through East Gwillimbury right now,” she said, referencing current traffic.