Background + Purpose


Highway 26 is the backbone that supports the economic vitality of the Georgian Triangle area.  It is the key east-west inter-regional roadway that connects the various communities and destinations in the area, and connects the area to adjacent communities, the 400 series highway network, and the Greater Toronto Area. 

The transportation system in the Georgian Triangle area must support the significant land development that has occurred over the last two decades, provide access to the growing tourism industry that is so important to the local economy, and service the  traveling population of Ontario.

Past studies have indicated that the heavy reliance on auto travel in the Highway 26 Georgian Triangle area will continue in the future, making a good network of highways and municipal roads critical.  Alternative transportation modes within the area, and connecting to Barrie and the Greater Toronto Area may also become increasingly viable given the pattern of local land development, the concentration of tourist destinations in the area, and the investments that that are being made in transit and other modes of transportation by the province and municipal governments.

There have been a number of provincial and municipal studies that have examined the transportation needs in the Georgian Triangle area.  These are summarized below.

  • The MTO Georgian Triangle Transportation Study (2001) recommended that additional transportation capacity would be required in or around the Town of Collingwood, and suggested that a new transportation corridor to the south of Collingwood and The Town of the Blue Mountains should be considered to by-pass these communities. The study did not undertake any detailed assessments of the potential impacts associated with a new provincial highway corridor crossing the Niagara Escarpment.

  • The MTO Simcoe Area Transportation Needs Assessment Study(2002) also recommended consideration of new Highway 26 corridor around Collingwood, but did not identify the extent of this corridor, potential routing options, or a study area for future EA studies.

  • The recently completed Simcoe County Transportation Master Plan (TMP) produced a multi-modal transportation strategy for the region aimed at “beginning the process of change” from an auto dominated culture, to one that provides transportation choices for residents and visitors to the area.  The TMP also recognized that auto travel will continue to increase over time, and recommended that MTO consider implementation of a longer term by-pass for the Stayner area and Collingwood, in addition to the current Highway 26 bypass being constructed between Wasaga Beach and Collingwood.

  • Joint planning work undertaken by the local municipalities in 2007 recommended improving local roads in the Stayner area and in Collingwood as an interim measure to address concerns about increased traffic through their downtown areas.

  • The MTO Study Design Report, originally initiated in 2004, is being replaced by the current Highway 26 Transportation Study in the Georgian Triangle Area.

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The purpose of the study is to:

  • Provide an up-to-date assessment of current travel activities and future travel demands in the study area;
  • Identify current and future road network deficiencies;
  • Propose transportation improvements to address identified deficiencies;
  • Recommend future engineering and environmental assessment studies necessary to obtain approvals for and to implement the recommended improvements.

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