Without waiting for a Simcoe County growth plan to be completed, the province is appearing before the Ontario Municipal Board today to finalize a secretly negotiated deal with developers and municipal officials for a massive employment zone along Highway 400 in Bradford West Gwillimbury.

It comes just four days after the province announced its strategy for growth in the region, north of the Greenbelt, that includes a study of a second major employment zone on another stretch of the highway, further north in Innisfil.

It puts the province in the curious position of pushing for the approval of the Bradford deal with Metrus, Geranium and other landholders, done without any studies or consultation, while apparently seeking public input for the rest of its growth strategy.

Critics of the deal, including Environmental Defence, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Bond Head Bradford West Gwillimbury Residents for Responsible Development, Campaign Lake Simcoe and the NDP, say the process should be adjourned until a complete vision for regional growth emerges.

“It is your obligation to demonstrate to the public, farmers, municipalities and other developers that we all have a meaningful say in planning growth in Simcoe,” wrote Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence, in a letter to deputy premier and infrastructure minister George Smitherman, who handles the growth file

Smith and others fear it marks the beginning of unchecked sprawl from the Holland Marsh to Barrie.

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