The Council of Canadians Delta-Richmond and Vancouver-Burnaby chapters are opposed to the proposed Massey Bridge. The recent rejection by Metro Vancouver area mayors of the bridge should add new pressure to the chapters’ demands that the federal government conduct a federal environmental assessment on the bridge and withhold federal infrastructure funding from the project.
The Vancouver Sun reports, “Metro Vancouver directors are raising concerns about the planned $3.5-billion bridge to replace the George Massey Tunnel, saying the proposed 10-lane crossing will negatively affect everything from transit ridership to salmon and birds in the Fraser River estuary.”
For context, the George Massey Tunnel is an existing highway traffic tunnel in Metro Vancouver that is located about 20 kilometres south of Vancouver city centre. The four-lane highway goes under the south arm of the Fraser River estuary and joins the municipalities of Richmond and Delta. The provincial government is pushing a plan to replace the tunnel with the ten-lane Massey Bridge. Construction on the bridge would begin in 2017 and take five years to complete. The Metro Vancouver Board of Directors is a governing body for the regional district comprised of elected officials for the area’s 21 municipalities, one electoral area and one First Nation.
The Council of Canadians Delta-Richmond and Vancouver-Burnaby chapters have been opposing the Massey Bridge since March 2013. They have been working with allies – including Fraser Voices, the Wilderness Committee, and five other groups – to call on the federal government launch an environmental review of the proposed bridge as well as to withhold federal infrastructure funding from it.
The North Delta Reporter notes, “Regional district politicians have released an assessment critical of the project, arguing the proposed bridge will have a dramatic impact on regional growth, steer more people into cars instead of public transit, and ultimately increase not decrease congestion.” The region is concerned the bridge would increase pressure to develop farmland, undermine the region’s strategy of containing urban development, disrupt the ecology of the Fraser estuary, diminish air quality if all 10 lanes of the bridge end up clogged with traffic, and impact Deas Island Regional Park.
The Vancouver Sun article adds, “The regional district plans to send a letter outlining its concerns to the B.C. minister of transportation and infrastructure, the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office, Premier Christy Clark, and [Catherine McKenna at] the federal ministry of environment and climate change.” And the Richmond News further explains, “Metro is calling [on McKenna] for a federal environmental review, confident a new federal government will consider the ecological impact of the bridge itself, as well as the increase in car traffic it will produce.”
The provincial government supports the construction of the Massey Bridge and has stated they “continue to work with the federal government and Port Metro Vancouver on the potential for cost sharing” for it.
On March 24, The Globe and Mail reported, “[Federal infrastructure minister] Amarjeet Sohi faced questions about federal financing for the project – which was absent from [the federal government’s March 22] budget – during a question-and-answer session held by the Richmond Chamber of Commerce. …’It is not the federal government’s role to determine what the local priorities are’, said Mr. Sohi, as he was questioned by chamber members, the bridge-supporting mayor of Delta and reporters. …Mr. Sohi said there was money left in the Building Canada fund of the former government, which could be used to help pay for the bridge.”
Hopefully the federal Infrastructure Minister will take into consideration the local priorities being expressed by Metro Vancouver area mayors in their rejection of the proposed Massey Bridge.
To encourage the environment minister to hold an environmental review of the Massey Bridge, please email her at Catherine.McKenna@parl.gc.ca and/or tweet her at @ec_minister The Infrastructure Minister can be reached at Amarjeet.Sohi@parl.gc.ca or on Twitter at @SohiAmarjeet
The Council of Canadians supports the Leap Manifesto demand for affordable public transit in place of more cars.