Widening of Bell Boulevard Moves Forward with Help of Provincial Government

On Friday morning The Hon. MPP Todd Smith brought positive news to the City of Belleville. The City had requested an exemption from the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks’ Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (EA) process. Friday’s announcement confirmed that the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks approved the City of Belleville’s request to exempt the road widening of Bell Boulevard from the requirements of the Environmental Assessment Act.

“Exemptions to this process are rarely granted and when we (City Councillors and CAO Rod Bovay) attended the Association of Municipalities of Ontario Conference (AMO) in August, we were determined to arrange a direct meeting with The Hon. Jeff Yurek, the Ontario Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks,” stated Mayor Mitch Panciuk. “With the support of our MPPs Todd Smith and Daryl Kramp we were able to arrange this meeting and explain our logic for waiving the assessment and proceeding immediately with the widening of Bell Boulevard, between Sidney Street and Wallbridge Loyalist Road, to provide safe and efficient transportation to support continued commercial and industrial development.”

In 1995, a Municipal Class Environment Assessment was completed which enabled Bell Boulevard to be constructed in 2000 as the two-lane roadway which exists today. Bell Boulevard is currently experiencing extraordinary commercial and industrial growth pressures. Widening this road from two to four lanes is necessary to accommodate the rapid traffic growth, increase safety and reduce congestion. The current widening project will address the extraordinary commercial and industrial growth pressures this area is about to experience. By granting this exemption to the City of Belleville, the Ministry is acknowledging the Environmental Assessment completed for this area in 1995, enabling the City to move forward with this important project.

“An EA typically takes twelve or more months to complete so by waiving the requirement to complete another EA process, the Provincial Government has enabled us to proceed immediately with the design, apply for permits, and then issue tenders so construction can begin in early 2020,” Mayor Panciuk added. “If we had been required to complete another EA process we could easily have been forced to defer construction until 2021 with thousands of dollars in additional costs.”

The City of Belleville plans to begin construction on the Bell Boulevard widening project in the spring of 2020.

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