Saturday, December 10, 2016

Due to recent feedback, Carla Qualtrough was interviewed by the Delta Optimist. the following article was carried in the Dec 9 Optimist. http://www.delta-optimist.com/t2-stance-unchanged-delta-mp-1.4115969

What follows is my response.

RE: T2 Stance unchanged: MP. Optimist Fri Dec 9.

“We need a robust environmental assessment process in Canada that wouldn't even let this kind of discussion start happening.” A direct quote from MP Qualtrough’s campaign.
 
So far the only assessment undertaken is the Port of Vancouver assessment for T2 which was recently shown lacking by Environment Canada. A ‘robust environmental assessment’ could only be an independent assessment with respect and interest in public input. All Port ‘public input sessions’ have been little more than one-way streams of information.

Ms. Qualtrough states that "We have a really, really sensitive estuary and ecosystem that we're dealing with that matters to… the world. Our estuary is pretty unique." If she were really, really interested in the effects on the estuary and the Fraser River she would show that to her constituents. She would demand an independent full assessment.

Her refusal to get involved speaks volumes. She has not spoken out or supported the bid to have an environmental review (ie ‘robust environmental assessment’) done for the Massey Tunnel replacement bridge. This bridge is proposed to allow the Federal Crown Corporation, Port of Vancouver, to remove the tunnel and dredge the Fraser. Make no mistake; the bridge is a federal initiative not a provincial project. What the bridge does for planning of traffic or transit is completely wrong for Metro Vancouver.

All Port proposals, T2, the bridge, dredging, jet fuel handling, etc., should be reviewed with one complete environmental assessment. These are Federal initiatives under the Liberal Party. The present piecemeal approach is completely inadequate. If Ms. Qualtrough really believes her stance has not changed I suggest she looks back at her quote: “Under a Liberal government, we would look at the cumulative effects of all these different things and that's not happening now.”  It is still not happening under the government that she represents in Delta.


Ms. Qualtrough also mentions the need for a new ‘business case’. The Port has had to change their business case through to the year 2050 in order to justify T2. “The science” of the environmental effects cannot be spun or molded like a business case. Do the right thing Ms. Qualtrough; support Metro Vancouver’s bid for a full environmental assessment of all Port projects on the Fraser. Show your commitment to Delta!
Would the real Carla Qualtrough please stand up!

Recently Rookie Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam MP Ron McKinnon sent a letter to Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr stating that the Kinder Morgan pipeline is “detrimental to British Columbia and should not proceed” (Vancouver Sun Nov. 17). It is good to hear that now several MP’s from BC have spoken up for their constituents.

When Prime Minister Trudeau was elected he vowed to “be the Prime Minister for all Canadians.” In his victory speech on October 19, 2015 in Montreal, he said “We beat negative, divisive politics with a positive vision that brings Canadians together."

Sadly this doesn’t seem to be the case for all the Liberal Party endeavors. Here in Delta there is a struggle to preserve the Fraser River and Estuary as well as our agricultural land base.  All are under threat from the Federal Crown Corporation of the Port of Vancouver. Inaction from the Federal Liberals is dividing our community.

Ottawa has been mum on the issues of Port expansion. They have left it to Victoria to take responsibility for the removal of the Massey Tunnel. The Provincial proposal to build a ten lane bridge quietly hides this defining reason for the tunnel removal. Victoria has added to the spin by declaring they are not proposing to dredge the Fraser. This has also been claimed by Port CEO Robin Silvester. Through FOI requests we know this is just not true. It is the only reason to remove the Massey Tunnel which is the limiting factor to deeper dredging.

Port expansion plans have already put enormous strain on farmland in Richmond and Delta. Speculation is raising the cost of farmland immensely. Environmental concerns over Terminal Two expansion have only now rippled the waters. Environment Canada has finally spoken up on the issue of Biofilm. This issue has been on the forefront of Respected Professionals opposed to the expansion for years.

Carla Qualtrough, our elected Member of Parliament expressed concerns over these issues during the election. Since the election she has been mum about Port Expansion. Her only comment on the tunnel removal is concern over traffic problems. This hardly seems reasonable. Most of the tunnel traffic neither originates nor ends in her constituency.

Yes, we need an improved crossing for the Fraser. Let the plans for that crossing be driven by regional planners and not by Port of Vancouver needs. Would our elected Member of Parliament please speak up for her constituents like some of her counterparts!

Peter van der Velden

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The environment and the industrialization of the Fraser River


There has been a lot of pressure on Vancouver and British Columbia to allow the industrialization of the Fraser River. The Port of Vancouver (POV) under the guidance of Robin Silvester has established itself as the driver for the Pacific Gateway Plan. Many people, groups and professionals have spoken out against much of this development. For years preferable alternatives have been studied, discussed and proposed. Most of this has fallen on deaf ears as the environment appears to have taken a back seat to the economy.

At the AGM for the Port “Sustainability” as defined by Robin Silvester takes the following order: 1-The Economy, 2-The Environment and 3-Community. This would suggest that jobs are more important than the environment. If we severely compromise or destroy the planet with climate change (through industry/jobs) there will be no jobs. In order to have sustainability the Environment must be considered before the Economy. That is not to belittle the importance of the Economy. By all means, we need to survive. However, Prime Minister Trudeau was elected with the understanding that he recognizes the importance of the environment in the balance of sustainability.

The industrialization of the Fraser is the starting point of further degrading our fish supply and food chain. It stays the course of known industrial development (as opposed to “new” or “alternative” development) at the cost of the environment. It is not known or studied how further dredging of the Fraser will damage fish stock. It is not known how much damage will be done by the increase in the salt wedge due to the deeper channel. This will affect both fish stock and farm irrigation practices.

The Fraser River is the primary and possibly the largest source of Chinook Salmon. This species has already seriously been affected by many factors, most man-made. As a result of the dwindling salmon stock (and other factors, also man-made) the “Southern Resident Killer Whales” residing in our coastal waters are at peril. Salmon, primarily the Chinook from the Fraser makes up 97% of the Orca diet for the three resident pods. The pod numbers have decreased to about 80 and they are presently the only killer whale listed as endangered by the American Fish and Wildlife. The Canadian equivalent, COSEWIC, has also listed these pods as endangered.

These issues about the Salmon, Fraser and farming are just a few of the many detrimental affects the proposed Port developments have. There are issues over jet fuel, LNG gas handling and shipping, and urban sprawl and industry taking over valuable farm land. Not to mention the shipping of coal from the USA, which American ports have wisely refused to handle. How is it that the many environmental concerns over the Fraser expressed by the public have been waved off as insignificant? Why is our new Federal Government being quiet on this subject?

The Port of Vancouver is a Federal Crown Corporation and has a responsibility to be a good corporate citizen. Instead it is a corporation that claims to be community minded while showing little community concern. Claims of hundreds of hours of collaborative community involvement and thousands of hours of scientific study are regularly made. The fact that the city of Richmond, one of the most affected communities, is against this project speaks volumes. Now that the Board of Metro Vancouver has spoken up against the bridge will there be recognition of the issues? It seems unlikely as the first to respond was a collection of Chambers of Commerce in support of the Pacific Gateway Plan, thus supporting the bridge. Sadly the Vancouver Sun opinion piece carried a number of erroneous claims and failed to speak of the negative effects of the proposed bridge.

Where is the Board of the Port in all of this? It is the Board that should be driving the Port and the communities that should be driving the Board. This issue was recognized by our local MP during the election. So far no recognition of the issue has been made and any change to the Board or Board structure is no more than rumour.

Will this bridge be built? Premier Clark has said that contracts will not be signed until after the election. Ultimately we will have to see who wins the next Provincial election. Should the Liberals be re-elected, the bridge would seem to be a done deal.

 

Thursday, June 23, 2016


A letter to all Metro Vancouver mayors.

The time to act is now! Todd Stone has just confirmed Province commitment to the 2017 start for the Fraser River Bridge. The Federal government has not responded to the Metro environmental review request and it looks as though they won’t. The lack of response makes it clear that the Federal government is committed to continue to develop the Pacific Gateway Plan. This can only be achieved with the removal of the Massey tunnel. As such, the Port of Vancouver (POV) is driving this major traffic and transit decision. The result is a bridge that is in the wrong location, achieves little traffic improvement, does not deal with transit and will put more cars on the road.
IS THE BRIDGE REALLY THE ONLY VIABLE ALTERNATIVE?

We DO need to improve the crossing of the Fraser. Accessing the Alex Fraser Bridge can take as long as the Massey Tunnel  and is equally problematic. ANY appropriate long range planning would take care of this issue as well as the Oak and Knight Street corridors. This could be done at a fraction of the current estimated cost for the bridge. In previous planning studies this scenario added a bridge between the tunnel and the Alex Fraser and upgraded the Massey tunnel.

This alternative is much more viable for all traffic crossing the Fraser. It would separate the traffic flows that go to Richmond and Vancouver, Burnaby and East Vancouver and New Westminster/Annacis Island. This would greatly improve traffic, especially if the tunnel were twinned as planned. Traffic would move more effectively through existing stress points. As well it would allow for traffic growth by being more efficient. The reason for the present bridge is strictly so that the Massey tunnel can be removed to improve shipping traffic. This is the reason for opposition to the bridge; it isn’t being planned with the communities to serve traffic needs. Mayor Jackson is wrong when she states that the opposition to the bridge is political. Mayor Malcolm Brodie of Richmond is clear. There is no benefit to placing this bridge in this location.

With the proposed bridge, traffic will increase with the ensuing development of Delta. This will put more stress on Oak and Knight Street and the Alex Fraser Bridge. These are finite points that cannot be changed with acceptable costs. As a result another crossing will soon be needed to handle this traffic. If that crossing was built now and the tunnel maintained, we would be planning for the future. The estimated $3.5 Billion could cover a lot of Metro Vancouver traffic issues and possibly improve transit at the same time. The proposed bridge does none of this.

The fact is that the bridge is not the answer to our traffic/transit infrastructure needs. POV claims not to be driving the decision for the bridge. If this were true why is the height of the bridge established by the Port and why is the tunnel being removed? These are strictly Port drivers and have nothing to do with traffic, transit or planning for either.
FARMLAND

Farm land will be lost with any proposed bridge. Saying there will be a net gain in farmland is irresponsible on Victoria’s part. These losses can be mitigated, but only in dialogue with the affected communities of Richmond and Delta. Dialogue seems of little interest to the current provincial government. Victoria is intent on reducing the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) and has shown little interest in protecting it. If countless public input sessions have been held why is there so much opposition to the bridge? Why is the community of Richmond openly against the bridge? Most attendees will tell you the public sessions were a one way stream of information. The bridge does not serve a community model; it is based on an economic model.

Delta will lose a lot of farmland. Adding four lanes of traffic to reach Delta will convince people to move from Vancouver. This will put enormous pressure on the agricultural land base which is already under attack from POV plans. Every week Robin Silvester is quoted by the press that there is not enough land zoned for industrial purposes.

Farmland is at a premium and prices are rising. This is at least partially due to speculative investment. The need for Industrial and Residential land has brought a surge of price increases to Delta. As a result agricultural land is becoming too expensive to farm. Delta’s farmland is close to the Vancouver market and is located in an unequaled climate zone and it is at peril. Should the bridge be built much of it will be lost to urban sprawl as the Metro area grows.
REAL COST OF PORT DEVELOPMENT

The mayor of Delta supports the bridge and Port development. What has not been discussed is the incredible cost of urban sprawl. It is a known fact that servicing residential development in lower density areas is expensive. This cost will be borne by Delta residents. Not only will Delta lose its agricultural community, the cost of living will continue to rise. This cost only subsidizes development plans for the shipping industry.

From both Victoria and POV, spin appears to rule public relations. We have been -and continue to be- lied to by Victoria and the Federal Crown corporation*. As a result there is no trust. Worst of all is that a $3.5 (+) Billion undertaking is to be started without the appropriate planning and input from the communities affected. Victoria and Port representatives continue to try and convince us that all of the expressed concerns have been dealt with. Yet strong opposition remains and the government refuses to delay the timeline.
THE ECONOMY AND THE BRIDGE

Concern has been expressed over the loss of business opportunities should the proposed bridge not be built. Consider this: The second busiest access route to Vancouver will be in upheaval for 3-5 years. This will only be the case if the bridge is built in the same location as the tunnel. If the bridge is built up-river of the tunnel there will be no loss of commerce. Jobs will be created equally by both proposals. The stress during the construction period of the proposed bridge will be much more serious than any experienced presently with repairs to the Patullo Bridge. The construction of the proposed bridge will be a hardship for all commuters and businesses.

Surprisingly, the Tsawwassen first nation supports the bridge. The giant mall being completed on their land stands to lose a lot of business during construction. People will have little interest in driving through a construction zone to the mall. The 1.5 million square feet of retail outlets need clients from the outlying areas to survive.

The proposed bridge is bad for the business community. Travel times through the construction period will be lengthened for all commuters and commerce. Hundreds of truckloads of building materials will block or slow traffic on a daily basis. The bottlenecks at Oak and Knight Street will only get worse as this supply chain moves through these corridors. For all of Vancouver, produce will cost more and will not be locally farmed or nearly as fresh. This in turn will put more trucks on the road.

Once the bridge is built the exodus from Vancouver to more economical housing will put yet more people on the road. Translink has made it clear that until a higher density is reached in this area there will be no increase in transit. As well, valuations and taxes will increase. All of these negative by-products have not been discussed and have been avoided by Victoria as well as Delta.
WHY BUILD THIS BRIDGE?

The decision for the bridge needs to be re-evaluated. Metro Vancouver will not benefit in any way from this incredible outlay of money. All mayors need to condemn this ineffective and wasteful proposal. The Federal government has shown no interest in containing Port Development which hinges on the proposed bridge. The POV Board is not responsive to community needs. The recent Annual General Meeting actually portrayed a board that claimed to be “collaborative”, in touch with and invested in “community”, “environmentally focused” and “sustainable”. People in Richmond would question all of that. Certainly the Board has no real presence in any of the affected communities, especially not Penny Priddy, the community representative. The port appears to be driven by CEO Robin Silvester and his initiatives to industrialize the Fraser. As a result we have a $3.5 Billion infrastructure proposal that has little value to the overall well being of Metro Vancouver.
*LIES WE HAVE BEEN TOLD
 -There will be a net gain in farmland with the proposed bridge
 -We continue to work collaboratively with Metro Vancouver…to ensure this meets the needs of Metro Vancouver residents for generations
-There has never been a plan to “twin” the tunnel
-We don’t plan to dredge the Fraser River
-We will not be asking for any funding for Terminal 2 from the Federal Government
-There may be a gain in Biofilm and Sandpiper activity due to Terminal 2
-Container traffic is increasing




A letter to all Metro Vancouver mayors.

The time to act is now! Todd Stone has just confirmed Province commitment to the 2017 start for the Fraser River Bridge. The Federal government has not responded to the Metro environmental review request and it looks as though they won’t. The lack of response makes it clear that the Federal government is committed to continue to develop the Pacific Gateway Plan. This can only be achieved with the removal of the Massey tunnel. As such, the Port of Vancouver (POV) is driving this major traffic and transit decision. The result is a bridge that is in the wrong location, achieves little traffic improvement, does not deal with transit and will put more cars on the road.
IS THE BRIDGE REALLY THE ONLY VIABLE ALTERNATIVE?

We DO need to improve the crossing of the Fraser. Accessing the Alex Fraser Bridge can take as long as the Massey Tunnel  and is equally problematic. ANY appropriate long range planning would take care of this issue as well as the Oak and Knight Street corridors. This could be done at a fraction of the current estimated cost for the bridge. In previous planning studies this scenario added a bridge between the tunnel and the Alex Fraser and upgraded the Massey tunnel.

This alternative is much more viable for all traffic crossing the Fraser. It would separate the traffic flows that go to Richmond and Vancouver, Burnaby and East Vancouver and New Westminster/Annacis Island. This would greatly improve traffic, especially if the tunnel were twinned as planned. Traffic would move more effectively through existing stress points. As well it would allow for traffic growth by being more efficient. The reason for the present bridge is strictly so that the Massey tunnel can be removed to improve shipping traffic. This is the reason for opposition to the bridge; it isn’t being planned with the communities to serve traffic needs. Mayor Jackson is wrong when she states that the opposition to the bridge is political. Mayor Malcolm Brodie of Richmond is clear. There is no benefit to placing this bridge in this location.

With the proposed bridge, traffic will increase with the ensuing development of Delta. This will put more stress on Oak and Knight Street and the Alex Fraser Bridge. These are finite points that cannot be changed with acceptable costs. As a result another crossing will soon be needed to handle this traffic. If that crossing was built now and the tunnel maintained, we would be planning for the future. The estimated $3.5 Billion could cover a lot of Metro Vancouver traffic issues and possibly improve transit at the same time. The proposed bridge does none of this.

The fact is that the bridge is not the answer to our traffic/transit infrastructure needs. POV claims not to be driving the decision for the bridge. If this were true why is the height of the bridge established by the Port and why is the tunnel being removed? These are strictly Port drivers and have nothing to do with traffic, transit or planning for either.
FARMLAND

Farm land will be lost with any proposed bridge. Saying there will be a net gain in farmland is irresponsible on Victoria’s part. These losses can be mitigated, but only in dialogue with the affected communities of Richmond and Delta. Dialogue seems of little interest to the current provincial government. Victoria is intent on reducing the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) and has shown little interest in protecting it. If countless public input sessions have been held why is there so much opposition to the bridge? Why is the community of Richmond openly against the bridge? Most attendees will tell you the public sessions were a one way stream of information. The bridge does not serve a community model; it is based on an economic model.

Delta will lose a lot of farmland. Adding four lanes of traffic to reach Delta will convince people to move from Vancouver. This will put enormous pressure on the agricultural land base which is already under attack from POV plans. Every week Robin Silvester is quoted by the press that there is not enough land zoned for industrial purposes.

Farmland is at a premium and prices are rising. This is at least partially due to speculative investment. The need for Industrial and Residential land has brought a surge of price increases to Delta. As a result agricultural land is becoming too expensive to farm. Delta’s farmland is close to the Vancouver market and is located in an unequaled climate zone and it is at peril. Should the bridge be built much of it will be lost to urban sprawl as the Metro area grows.
REAL COST OF PORT DEVELOPMENT

The mayor of Delta supports the bridge and Port development. What has not been discussed is the incredible cost of urban sprawl. It is a known fact that servicing residential development in lower density areas is expensive. This cost will be borne by Delta residents. Not only will Delta lose its agricultural community, the cost of living will continue to rise. This cost only subsidizes development plans for the shipping industry.

From both Victoria and POV, spin appears to rule public relations. We have been -and continue to be- lied to by Victoria and the Federal Crown corporation*. As a result there is no trust. Worst of all is that a $3.5 (+) Billion undertaking is to be started without the appropriate planning and input from the communities affected. Victoria and Port representatives continue to try and convince us that all of the expressed concerns have been dealt with. Yet strong opposition remains and the government refuses to delay the timeline.
THE ECONOMY AND THE BRIDGE

Concern has been expressed over the loss of business opportunities should the proposed bridge not be built. Consider this: The second busiest access route to Vancouver will be in upheaval for 3-5 years. This will only be the case if the bridge is built in the same location as the tunnel. If the bridge is built up-river of the tunnel there will be no loss of commerce. Jobs will be created equally by both proposals. The stress during the construction period of the proposed bridge will be much more serious than any experienced presently with repairs to the Patullo Bridge. The construction of the proposed bridge will be a hardship for all commuters and businesses.

Surprisingly, the Tsawwassen first nation supports the bridge. The giant mall being completed on their land stands to lose a lot of business during construction. People will have little interest in driving through a construction zone to the mall. The 1.5 million square feet of retail outlets need clients from the outlying areas to survive.

The proposed bridge is bad for the business community. Travel times through the construction period will be lengthened for all commuters and commerce. Hundreds of truckloads of building materials will block or slow traffic on a daily basis. The bottlenecks at Oak and Knight Street will only get worse as this supply chain moves through these corridors. For all of Vancouver, produce will cost more and will not be locally farmed or nearly as fresh. This in turn will put more trucks on the road.

Once the bridge is built the exodus from Vancouver to more economical housing will put yet more people on the road. Translink has made it clear that until a higher density is reached in this area there will be no increase in transit. As well, valuations and taxes will increase. All of these negative by-products have not been discussed and have been avoided by Victoria as well as Delta.
WHY BUILD THIS BRIDGE?

The decision for the bridge needs to be re-evaluated. Metro Vancouver will not benefit in any way from this incredible outlay of money. All mayors need to condemn this ineffective and wasteful proposal. The Federal government has shown no interest in containing Port Development which hinges on the proposed bridge. The POV Board is not responsive to community needs. The recent Annual General Meeting actually portrayed a board that claimed to be “collaborative”, in touch with and invested in “community”, “environmentally focused” and “sustainable”. People in Richmond would question all of that. Certainly the Board has no real presence in any of the affected communities, especially not Penny Priddy, the community representative. The port appears to be driven by CEO Robin Silvester and his initiatives to industrialize the Fraser. As a result we have a $3.5 Billion infrastructure proposal that has little value to the overall well being of Metro Vancouver.
*LIES WE HAVE BEEN TOLD
 -There will be a net gain in farmland with the proposed bridge
 -We continue to work collaboratively with Metro Vancouver…to ensure this meets the needs of Metro Vancouver residents for generations
-There has never been a plan to “twin” the tunnel
-We don’t plan to dredge the Fraser River
-We will not be asking for any funding for Terminal 2 from the Federal Government
-There may be a gain in Biofilm and Sandpiper activity due to Terminal 2
-Container traffic is increasing



Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A lot of little lies our Liberal leader leaves us with: A bridge to nowhere.



Thought we had heard everything we could about the bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel? Think again!

A transportation plan for the Greater Vancouver area was started as early as 1994. It was set up by an industry-led organization of senior executives from seaports, airport, carriers and other companies engaged directly in the Gateway Transportation business.

Neither community input, safety nor the environment were considered*. In the quest for jobs both Senior levels of Government have forsaken social issues close to the heart of the electorate. This bridge is not a bridge to serve transit infrastructure; this is a bridge to allow the industrialization of the Fraser River. It does so by the removal of the George Massey tunnel.

SPIN

As pressure is brought to bear on the Liberal plan to build this bridge, the spin coming from Victoria changes according to the criticism levied at the plan. The most recent comments from Todd Stone, Minister for transportation and Infrastructure is that “Port Metro Vancouver” (recently renamed “Port of Vancouver”) is NOT driving the decision for the bridge. This statement is completely negated through a recent FOI request. The height of the bridge is driven by the desire of the Port of Vancouver to get LNG ships under the span. Previous transportation plans indicated twinning the tunnel (with a 2 lane tube) was preferable to a bridge and more cost effective. If that was the case why is the tunnel being dismantled if not to let deeper hull vessels up the South Fraser River?

Robin Silvester, CEO of Port of Vancouver recently stated that there were no plans to dredge the Fraser River. Oddly this belies the fact that he has lobbied the Harper government multiple times to subsidize dredging the Fraser. The dredging would deepen the Fraser to make the Fraser Surrey docks (a tenant of Port of Vancouver) a deep sea port. This is made clear by the Pacific Gateway Strategy Action Plan (see link). The plan shows that this has been a part of the Port development strategy since 2006.


FACTS

Information acquired through Freedom of Access to Information reveals that the Port of Vancouver clearly wants the Massey Tunnel removed.

The tunnel is also a marine bottleneck. It was not designed for the size of ships used in modern day trade, which must access the Fraser River in Richmond and Surrey. As a result, the tunnel is becoming a significant obstacle to international trade on the Fraser.”

(Robin Silvester, CE0, Port Metro Vancouver: Vancouver Sun, April 29, 2012)

 
The Port of Vancouver made it clear to the government that plans should include air drafts to accommodate large ships:

 

"Liquid bulk tankers with larger air draft requirements (e.g. LNG) should be considered,"

 

(Port Development Strategies Manager, Jennifer Natland, Nov. 29, 2012 to Project Planners)

 

If the Port of Vancouver is not driving these decisions why are they so at odds with any real traffic infrastructure planning? The required height of the bridge presents major challenges. It makes access to Ladner and the Steveston highway very difficult. As well the support for the towers becomes very expensive. This could be avoided and makes no sense if only traffic issues were driving this decision.

The structure of the towers will be difficult to install while the tunnel is in place. This fact recently came to light when their required height was raised by Port of Vancouver. This will turn highway 99 into a construction bottleneck for an indefinite period. What seems to be forgotten is that this is the second busiest access road into Vancouver. Commerce and commuters alike will be hamstrung with delays and undoubtedly re-routed to the Alex Fraser Bridge.

As recent as 2006 the tunnel was deemed to be safe and sound for many more years. With that understanding a $20 million seismic upgrade was completed to the tunnel. The government stated all that was needed was “additional seismic upgrading”. This additional upgrade was priced and planned for but not carried out. Now that there is a plan for the bridge, the tunnel is considered obsolete, unsafe and the seismic upgrading too expensive.

Delta CAO George Harvie was recently quoted as saying “any kind of seismic problem could ruin the current tunnel”. What he failed to mention was this: Any earthquake strong enough to “ruin the tunnel” would also destroy the highway leading to it. As well, any over-passes and crossings of the Lower Fraser Valley delta would be at peril.

Douglas Massey is the son of George Massey whose name is on the tunnel. Mr. Massey’s research shows a Dutch company specializing in tunnels was contacted by the Provincial government. A team member from this firm was emphatic that a plan to twin the tunnel was not seriously developed. How then can a decision costing Billions of dollars have been made without a clear assessment of this alternative?

The facts remain: All of this is a part of the larger Pacific Gateway Strategy Action Plan.


The plan is comprehensive and large parts of it are complete. Billions of dollars have been spent on the following projects: The Port Mann Bridge, the Golden Ears Bridge, the Deltaport third berth, the South Fraser Perimeter road and numerous others. For Mr. Silvester or Mr. Stone to suggest that the bridge is not being driven by the Port of Vancouver is just not true. Community input was never seriously sought and appears to be irrelevant. Todd Stone is the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. In recent presentations he has refused any questions regarding aspects of the bridge. What the MoT has done instead is issue a bulletin called “debunking the Massey replacement myths.


One of the “facts” states that: “The project will…… remove 9,000 tonnes of greenhouses gas each year”. 

Adding traffic to the existing traffic will only add to our greenhouse gasses. By not addressing the Oak and Knight street corridors more greenhouse gasses will be added. Waiting and idling times will only be increased. This is only the beginning. If the Fraser is industrialized as planned our greenhouse gasses will increase exponentially.

For a debunking of the Provincial Government “debunking” see Pat Johnstone’s blog: https://patrickjohnstone.ca/2016/04/myths-and-lies.html 

 

SPINNING, SPINNING, SPUN

Geoff Freer, project manager for the bridge recently made a presentation to the Richmond council. In that meeting he stated that there would be no loss of farmland. In fact he said there would be a gain in farmland. These comments were reiterated by Robin Silvester, CEO for the Port of Vancouver. The justification so angered the Richmond council that they changed their support for the bridge and specified that they preferred to keep the tunnel.

The government has stated that 59% of tunnel traffic goes to Richmond, not Vancouver. The validity of the ‘Blue Tooth Technology’ used has been questioned. Cars not equipped with this technology could not be counted. Not that it matters, it is truly a moot point. The bottleneck at both the Oak Street and Knight Street corridors are already problematic. By constructing a 10 lane bridge, Delta will be opened to urban sprawl. This will create additional commercial and passenger traffic to and from Vancouver. As a result these two corridors will only become busier. Yet this “plan” does not deal with this particular issue. No alternatives to these two traffic impediments have been considered. How can this be considered planning for the future? Is it any wonder that all the Metro Mayors (minus Mayor Jackson of Delta) are questioning the wisdom of this plan?

What is truly amazing is that the Mayors of Metro Vancouver are not fighting this issue tooth and nail. I can only assume the reason is that we DO need a better crossing at the Fraser. By being against “the bridge” we are delaying any improvement. However, this “plan” really only deals with crossing the Fraser. The lack of planning shows that overall traffic infrastructure is of no interest to the provincial government. 

What needs to be made very clear is that the Port of Vancouver is in a conflict of interest. The port makes money from fees, leases and rentals and has no interest in limiting its operations. In response Mr. Silvester has made the following statement: “To suggest some inherent self-interest is influencing the authority’s permitting decisions, or that those decisions are not based on thorough environmental assessment, is failing to recognize the port authority’s federal mandate and obligations”. This is in-fact exactly what is at question. Mr. Silvester and/or the Port board appear to be beyond Federal scrutiny. The Port appears to have but one interest and that is to industrialize the Fraser River. In doing so it appears to have no regard for the social or environmental consequences.

 
VISIONS SPUN

 
We are being subjected to Mr. Silvester’s vision through a board that is an unelected and unaccountable body. Where the board is in all this is a big question. Is the board driving Mr. Silvester or is Mr. Silvester driving the board? The board community representatives have never been heard from. Eight of the 11 board member are Federal Government appointees, seven of which are chosen in consultation with the Port user advisory committee.

 

Compare the lofty Vision of the Port of Vancouver:

 

"Inspiring support ….from communities locally and across the nation,"

and Mission Statement:

 

“To lead the growth of Canada's Pacific Gateway in a manner that enhances the well-being of Canadians and inspires national pride”.

to the current reality. A part of the Pacific Gateway Plan was to “engage communities”. One way to achieve this was through a questionnaire. The questionnaire was a one-way stream of port information. This was given to participants at a convention of BC municipalities. Only 28% of participants responded. This is no surprise as there was no dialogue. No interest was expressed in community input. So much for community engagement or “inspiring support”.

What is being sold is a vision of the economy driven by industry and hammered home with the promise of jobs. The loss of farmland, the environment and communities were not considered. The process shows a serious lack of appropriate infrastructure planning. How else do we get a 3.5 million dollar decision without any record of the decision process? Misrepresentations of our Provincial and Federal representatives are more than by-products. It is a given that transparency is not public entitlement. Our Crown Corporation is used as a shield for the Federal MP’s and their responsibilities. The port has been given powers reaching well beyond its mandate. Under “roles and responsibilities” on the port website it states:

 

 Infrastructure development to support growth and efficient operations, including collaboration with government and others on projects beyond port lands.

 

THE REALITY

 

What exactly does the “projects beyond port lands” cover? How is it that an expensive, short-term, partial traffic fix can be driven by Port of Vancouver? The terms “efficiency” and “collaboration” need to be considered for the community in order to be meaningful and effective. The bridge does not serve Metro Vancouver. It does not serve Richmond or Delta. The bridge only serves the Port of Vancouver and commuters south of the Fraser going as far as Richmond.

 
Recently the Federal Government has been asked by the Metro Vancouver Board to insist on an environmental assessment of the bridge. Such an assessment would require the assessment of all undertakings on the Fraser, something the ‘Port of Vancouver’ has refused to do. This would include; Roberts Bank Terminal 2 expansion, the Vancouver Airport Fuel Delivery Project, the WesPac Tilbury LNG terminal for the exporting of LNG, the direct transfer coal facility at the Fraser Surrey docks, as well as the removal of the tunnel, the subsequent deeper dredging of the Fraser and the construction of the bridge.

 
It is obvious that these projects really will industrialize the Fraser River. With the exception of the LNG terminal all of these are direct proposals of the ‘Port of Vancouver’. They are also parts of the “Pacific Gateway Plan”. This plan is all about the development of serving trade with Asia.

All of these undertakings will critically affect the ecology of the Fraser estuary and river. This fact is being ignored by the Provincial and Federal Governments. Both levels of government are satisfied with a piecemeal approach to environmental assessments. The Federal Government states that it is “unfair” to require proponents to restart environmental assessments. Even while admitting these may have been flawed under the Harper government. The agreement with the Paris accord should require higher environmental standards. However, this does not appear to be the case for the Fraser River. The “proponent” for these undertakings is the Port of Vancouver. As a Federal Crown Corporation, the port needs to be held to a higher standard. A full environmental assessment of all port undertakings including the proposed bridge should be required.

While considering Port of Vancouver activities we need a review of the Board of Directors. It is clear that the Board is industry driven and not community driven. The sole speaker for the port is Mr. Silvester. A Community and Corporate Social Responsibility committee exists and is never heard from. There is no community presence other than an office in Ladner. One community representative contacted was clear: Little credence was given to feedback. The community liaison committee seemed little more than an exercise. A legislated/ required meeting with representatives with no apparent value or outcome.

 
It is time for an elected board that represents the communities the Port most affects rather than the corporations that it serves.

 
Sadly the Municipality of Delta has been swept up by senior levels of government and is in agreement. At a cost of $16,000 Mayor Jackson and CAO George Harvey traveled to Norway in 2013. The Delta delegation was invited by Robin Silvester to visit port facilities and meet industry representatives. Undoubtedly they were persuaded that the vision of Port of Vancouver would serve Delta.

The bridge will completely change the nature of the community Mayor Jackson governs. She has waved off the environmental and social implications as “myths”. Mayor Jackson remains the only Mayor in support of the bridge.

We can do better than this! We deserve co-operative planning with communities to get the infrastructure that supports a strong city. If it improves our harbor, great! However, let’s be clear; transit planning should not be done for the needs of the Port of Vancouver. Such a myopic outlook doesn’t serve any of the Metro communities. If this bridge is built we will be spending much more money to rectify our transit needs. Lastly, these are the same people that missed the South Fraser Perimeter Road budget by more than 100%. If this is any indication of their planning ability the Bridge will cost a lot more than $3,500,000,000.

 If you feel strongly about more positive transit planning and community involvement, get involved! Write or contact your MLA and MP. Let them know you’re not happy with the decision to build this bridge!

* “While there are other considerations, such as safety and environmental concerns, the proposed MCTS (Major Commercial Transportation System) was only evaluated on the economic benefits of proceeding with the proposed investments versus the consequences of inaction for the Regional and Western Canadian economies.”


 



 

 

 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project

This is a letter sent to a number of people that could be essential to the decisions process of this project.

January 27, 2016

The Hourable Amerjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and communities
The Honourable Marc Garneau MP, Minister of Transport
The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, MP Delta
Alice Wong, MP Richmond Center

House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

cc:

Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau
Cabinet Ministers, Government of Canada
Port Metro Vancouver Board of Directors

Re: Infrastructure spending, Real Change, Smart Growth and protection of the Fraser River
 

In a recent contact with Mr. Garneau about the flawed environmental processes for Port Metro Vancouver undertakings, the following response was received:
Canada Port Authorities must comply with the Canada Marine Act, other laws and regulations, and their individual letters patent.  The Act does not allow the government to direct Port Metro Vancouver; rather, section 20 of the Act makes the Board of Directors responsible for the management of the activities of Port Metro Vancouver.  

I would therefore encourage you to make your views known directly to Port Metro Vancouver at http://www.portmetrovancouver.com/contact-us/.”
Mr. Garneau’s statement appears to contravene the doctrine of “nondelegation” which directs that a branch of government must not authorize another entity to exercise the power or function to which it is constitutionally authorized to exercise itself.  As stated in the guidelines for “Open and Accountable Government” declared by the new Liberal Government on November 27, 2015:

However, Ministers remain accountable to Parliament for the organizations in their portfolio, and are responsible for taking appropriate corrective action to address any problems that may arise, consistent with the Minister’s role with respect to the organization in question. This applies regardless of whether the problem has been brought to the attention of the Minister by the representations of a constituent, or any other source.”
The Port Metro Board is made up largely of Industry Professionals only one of whom is chosen by the communities affected. Eight of the 11 board members are Federal Government appointees, seven of which are chosen in consultation with the Port user advisory committee. As you can see the board is heavily weighted to favour Port activity with really only one member ostensibly concerned with community issues. As such it is easy to see how community input is marginalized.

For years many people including professionals have expressed their views to CEO Robin Sylvester and the Port Authority with little response. A recent comment made by Mr. Sylvester stated that: “As a federal body here at Port Metro Vancouver, we have supremacy.”

There are a number of Infrastructure projects being planned by Port Metro Vancouver. Several of these will be applying for Federal Infrastructure funding, the biggest of which is a bridge across the Fraser River ostensibly planned by the British Columbia Government. The driver for this traffic and transit project appears to be Port Metro Vancouver. Mr. Sylvester has stated for years that he wants to see the existing tunnel moved in order to allow deeper hull vessels to travel up the South Fraser River.
This project is in almost every possible way in direct conflict with the REAL CHANGE directives the Liberal government espouses. It does nothing for public transit, and fails as a ‘green infrastructure’ or ‘social infrastructure’. As such it does nothing to achieve any of the “Smart Growth Communitiesto ensure that growth is fiscally, environmentally and socially responsible. Nor does it recognize the connections between development and quality of life. A number of the Metro Mayors are not supportive of this project probably because:

-          Only bus lanes are added, no transit infrastructure is considered or budgeted
-      More fuel will be consumed accessing this long tall bridge than any tunnel access
            -          A perfectly functional tunnel will be dismantled creating unnecessary waste
            -          $20 Million recently spent on Seismic upgrading for the tunnel will have been wasted
            -          More farmland will be taken over for the additional roadways and access points
            -          Overall roadway infrastructure for the Metro region will not be improved
            -          Urban sprawl will result from this 10 lane bridge putting more traffic on the roads
            -          This urban sprawl will take over some of the best farmland in Canada
            -          This farmland easily supplies a lot of local produce to the nearby Vancouver market

The consultation for this project was minimal and all options presented led to the bridge being the best option. Appropriate (non-political) planning would show that much better solutions are possible. Using the existing tunnel as a base, LESS traffic would be directed towards the existing corridors. All this could be achieved with a much lower budget. This would allow money for actual public transit to the region taking vehicles off the road rather than putting more vehicles on the road.

The plan for the bridge is in almost every possible way in direct conflict with the REAL CHANGE
initiative. It does very little for public transit and fails as 'green infrastructure' or 'social infrastructure'. Neither does the plan fulfill the Port's vision or mission statement: 


"Inspiring support ….from communities locally and across the nation,"

 
“To lead the growth of Canada's Pacific Gateway in a manner that enhances the well-being of Canadians and inspires national pride”.
 

Please insure that no Infrastructure funding be allocated to any projects on the Fraser until they meet the goals you have set forth both in Paris and with your REAL CHANGE initiative

 REAL CHANGE
 
      PROTECTING OUR FRESHWATER AND OCEANS

 RESTORING CREDIBILITY TO ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENTS

 “We will work with the provinces …..creating incentives for investments that lead to cleaner air, healthier communities, and better quality of life for all Canadians.

 

REAL CHANGE initiatives can protect the Fraser River. It can do this while offering economic opportunities that enhance quality of life through 'Smart Growth' principles.