Media Statement: Auditor General on Greenbelt Take-Outs

Local MPPs complicit in $8.3 billion dollar Greenbelt land grab.

August 9, 2023 - Simcoe County

Local MPPs complicit in $8.3 billion dollar Greenbelt land grab

Today’s Auditor General report outlined that the Greenbelt land grabs were a “biased” exercise that gave “certain developers preferential treatment”. Not only were rules changed to allow certain developer lands to be included in the exercise, but environmental oversights were removed as well to ensure the process benefited a select few without any consideration for the integrity of the Greenbelt or the lands it protects.

Local MPPs, specifically Cabinet Ministers Doug Downey, Caroline Mulroney and Jill Dunlop and the rest of the Executive Council, signed off on these Greenbelt removals and this biased exercise, which will see the value of land taken out for developers balloon by at least $8.3 billion. Why did they support these takeouts?

The Premier, along with the rest of his government, have said that this land is needed to build the houses Ontario needs for future demand. The Auditor General refuted this claim, however, confirming what SCGC, along with other environmental organizations, have long said, which is that there was already enough land within urban boundaries. So again we ask, why did our local MPPs support these takeouts.

Do these MPPs and this government take Ontarians for dupes? How can we trust them with the care of our province when they are so clearly willing to lie to the public, to make backroom deals with their rich friends, to sell out to the highest bidder regardless of whether it benefits the rest of us? Beyond the Greenbelt, we’re seeing similar decisions by this government targeting health care and education.

We also see duplicity regarding the need for new highways, such as the Bradford Bypass, for which the government has so far refused to release traffic studies, which it’s exempted from a proper environmental assessment, and which it’s routed around a golf course owned by the father of one of its MPPs.

Based on the evidence that the Auditor General revealed today, it seems clear that this government places the need to take care of their rich friends well above looking after the public’s interest, fiscal responsibility and transparent, honest decision making. This is something that all MPPs need to be accountable for, including those representing ridings in Simcoe County.

There isn’t much that makes Ontarians angrier than elected representatives using government to benefit themselves and enrich their friends. And yet here we are. While people are struggling to make ends meet, an unnecessary, thoroughly biased process aimed at enriching a few was made a top priority. This government promotes itself publicly as “for the people” while behind closed doors it’s only the well connected that get the full benefit of the government’s help and power. We need no further evidence that this government is no longer trustworthy, from the top all the way to our local MPPs.

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Governments have failed to act to protect our communities and the futures of our children and grandchildren, and they continue to treat our environment as if it’s incidental to life, rather than a foundation for it.

We need strong community organizations to fight for our future, now more than ever.

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Auditor General Report Confirms that the Bradford Bypass is a Boondoggle

Media Statement

December 1, 2022 - Simcoe County

On November 30th, the Auditor General of Ontario – an independent officer of the legislature who is tasked with ensuring government spending and programs give Ontarians best value and efficiency – outlined the ballooning costs of the Bradford Bypass and how best practices were not being followed. We’ve been saying this all along.

Internal Ministry estimates show that the Bypass could cost as much as $4 billion dollars. This is a 400% increase from the original budget that the Minister of Transportation begrudgingly announced publicly in 2021 after we demanded transparency around costs of the project. We know from internal documents that the Ministry has known their estimate was a lowball since at least November 2021 and yet there has been no effort that we’ve seen to update municipal partners, local stakeholders or the public about this important piece of information.

The Auditor General also noted that at this point, the Ministry does not have the money to fulfil all of its highway promises. This begs the question of when this project will ever be fully delivered if a cash-strapped Ministry has to start making hard choices about which projects proceed. We have asked when this highway will be completed and ready for use, but again, the answers aren’t forthcoming.

The Bradford Bypass has been sold as a traffic solution. Worryingly, the Auditor General found that travel demand forecasts calculated by consultants are not verified by the Ministry or by independent experts. Despite internal reports that show the Bypass will be congested after construction and that congestion will worsen on highways 400 and 404, the province continues to intentionally mislead Ontarians using unverified traffic studies.

Let’s be clear – the Bradford Bypass was just the first step in opening up huge swaths of land for Greenbelt developers and more sprawl development. The studies they are now doing have been streamlined to a point of being meaningless while other important studies such as impacts to Lake Simcoe and climate are not being done. Protections for our wetlands and waterways have been all but gutted due to Bill 23. Another 7,400 acres from the Greenbelt is slated to be removed to allow speculators to further cash in. The vision that developers want for this region is coming into view and the expense of public health and public funds.

Altogether the province has produced a flimsy case for building this highway. The groups fighting the Bypass are asking for a transparent reconsideration of routes, including regional road improvements, that could reduce costs, provide congestion relief and lower environmental impacts. In all, this provides value for money for taxpayers. Further, we question spending $4 billion on a highway amid healthcare and education sector crises.

Lake Simcoe Watch recently released the results of a November 2022 Oraclepoll survey of 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.

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Community supported, advocacy for a safe and secure future.

Governments have failed to act to protect our communities and the futures of our children and grandchildren, and they continue to treat our environment as if it’s incidental to life, rather than a foundation for it.

We need strong community organizations to fight for our future, now more than ever.

Please consider donating to support our work. It’s people like you who make us possible.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

We send out a once-monthly newsletter full of information on what’s happening in Simcoe County and beyond, including information on how you can take action to protect the health of your community.

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