Having nightmares about congested roads in town? Time is running out for East Gwillimbury residents to show their support for the need of a dedicated connection between highways 400 and 404.
Resident can comment on the Province of Ontario’s Co-ordinated Land Use Planning Review, which features four plans: the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Greenbelt Plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and Niagara Escarpment Plan up until Oct. 31.
For more than a year, East Gwillimbury Mayor Virginia Hackson has been working with the warden of the County of Simcoe, the chair of York Region and mayors of neighbouring municipalities to bring attention to the 400-404 link (Bradford bypass).
The end game is clear for Hackson: she wants the province to put the link back on the growth plan.
“I am always asked how our roads can handle the overwhelming amount of traffic that is coming with growth,” she said. “Right now there is no relief for (going east-west).”
Commuters struggle with traffic congestion trying to get between Hwy. 404 and Hwy. 400. That problem is only going to get worse in the coming years as East Gwillimbury gets set to triple its population to more than 75,000 people in the next 15 years years, Hackson said.
Traffic congestion between Simcoe and York communities has become worse in recent years as Bradford’s population has soared, Hackson said. “These are commuters using roads like Green Lane and Queensville Sideroad,” Hackson said. While East Gwillimbury is growing so is Simcoe, with the population set to spike from 461,000 in 2011 to 796,000 in 2041.
The frustrating thing for Hackson is the traffic problem was predictable. The Bradford bypass has long been planned for. The province eliminated the Bradford bypass from its plans in 2008, despite the route being pegged as a necessity by a Ministry of Transportation study that called for the route’s construction to be completed by 2021.
The province first identified the need for a highway linking Hwy. 400 and Hwy. 404 through parts of East Gwillimbury and Bradford in the late 1970s and, over the past four decades, the area has been protected from development and subject to a number of environmental assessments.
Last November, representatives from York Region, Simcoe County, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, Bradford West Gwillimbury and Newmarket met to see if they could lobby to get the province to put the project on its growth plan.
Earlier this year, York Chair Wayne Emmerson said if the road is to be built it would likely be a toll road. As for timing, he said sometime around 2030 is most realistic.
Council is encouraging the public to learn more about the province’s land use plans and make their opinions known. Comments about the link are being accepted until Oct. 31. "Their feedback would be helpful," Hackson said.
More information regarding the proposed road and how it could benefit East Gwillimbury and the surrounding region, as well as a link to the province’s feedback form, can be found at eastgwillimbury.ca.