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LETTER: Bradford Bypass reveals Ford government's 'true agenda'

'If we truly want to address climate change in a meaningful way it means we need to get less auto dependent, not more,' says letter writer
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Ontario Premier Doug Ford officially announces the Bradford Bypass earlier this year.

OrilliaMatters received the following letter to the editor from Gary Machan, the project lead for the Community Health Climate Action Initiative – Ontario and president of the regional Canadian International Council and member of Just Recovery Simcoe.

Based on the Ford government’s stubborn persistence in proceeding with the Bradford Bypass despite concerns from municipalities and local residents alike, it is becoming abundantly clear that they didn’t get the CODE RED ALERT issued this summer from the International Panel on Climate Change that our planet is in peril.

Meaning we can no longer carry on business as usual if we are to have any hope at all of surviving the weather extremes and whiplash already wreaking havoc in our country as evidenced in British Columbia.

Bear in mind, this message did not come from a group of die-hard environmental activists, but from a rather understated, mousy group of climate scientists who are not exactly renowned for their hyperbole. True some of you might be thinking what does this have to do with the Bradford Bypass because don’t you know electric vehicles are going to save us. To which, my response is better not pop the champagne just yet, because the preliminary research on electric vehicles is mixed.

Quite aside from the fact that they are far more energy intensive to build, there exists the largely unanswered question as to where the additional fuel is going to come from to power them.

Based on the divestment of the Ford government in renewables, clearly solar isn’t going to fill the gap anytime soon. So where is all this extra energy going to miraculously come from? Short answer, where it is coming from now; namely, fracking, pipelines, tar sands. Hence, unless we have alternative fuel supplies we are just robbing Peter to pay Paul.

All of which should be a reminder that if we truly want to address climate change in a meaningful way it means we need to get less auto dependent, not more. And in so doing embrace the principles of Smart Growth knowing that study after study demonstrates that not only does this lead to a higher quality of life and wellbeing for residents, it is a lot lighter on the pocket book as well.

Consider for a moment the poorest cities are the ones with the most cars per capita and vice versa. Besides which does anyone really believe that the Bradford Bypass will cost $800 million if the Ford government persists.

And yet, tempting as it is to blame our politicians, at the end of the day the enemy is us, for the simple reason, not only did we vote for them, but many of us still have our heads in the sand and indulge in the magical thinking that Ontario exists in a bubble that will spare us from the consequences of abrupt climate change; be they direct in the way of major heat waves, storms and, droughts, or indirect such as increased power outages, soaring food prices and higher insurance premiums.

Might I be so bold as to suggest that the Bradford Bypass be a defining issue of the next provincial election since it more than anything is revealing of a government’s true agenda.

Cutting commuting time for a few years until the highways clog up again, lining the pockets of some wealthy developers, spending money we don’t have, or embarking on an entirely new direction that is grounded in reality and proposes a model of governance that doesn’t pride itself in being an evidence-free zone.   

Gary Machan
Oro-Medonte Township