$3.5B expense (today’s costs)
Scant public records trail.
Silence from some of our old City leaders now in provincial government.
Is this responsible?

Well, an interesting discussion thread over the last couple of days, apparently populated by a few people who have information, press lines and FAQ responses that are not available to regular citizens – even through our Province’s Access to Information and Privacy legislation.
The widening scandal of public record destruction in the provincial government’s offices should be of concern to all citizens regardless of political stripe. I  like many who subscribe to this blog am driven by interests and principles, not politics. It smacks of hypocrisy that an $800M regional transit initiative is forced to a referendum when the province can spend $3.5B ($4,000 out of the pockets of every household in Greater Vancouver) in virtual secrecy.
Is this going to be the new system of provincial record keeping for multi-billion dollar public projects funded with our tax dollars?
chinese whispers
We need transparency and a proper forum to debate this important issue.
Thanks for your comments. Stay involved.



  1. They sure have a lot of info considering they said there was none when FOI’d a few months ago.
    I almost choked when Stone got up and said this was visionary. Ha! Maybe in bizarro world can more and wider highways be considered visionary. That takes stones to say that!

  2. The reality is that if any proper analysis and consultation was done this would never happen. There is no business case, even for congestion. This is all about the Port and coal exports but of course the province can not say that.

    1. So no “proper” analysis was done, yet you’ve determined it’s completely unviable. That’s a pretty, messed up “reality” you live in.

  3. $800M for transit requires a plebescite and the binding agreement of a majority of Lower Mainland residents. A $3.497B, 10-lane bridge to fuel suburban expansion into an agricultural reserve area that rests at and/or below sea level does not. I see. Well, you voted for her. What are you going to do now? I’m honestly curious.

    1. I assume when you say “you” you mean the collective “we”?
      And what are “we” going to do about it.
      Well, I’ve written the Hon. Suzanne Anton (Min. Justice) and the Hon. Sam Sullivan – rather ironically a member / leader of the the “Special Committee to Review the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act” – to ask for details on empty F.O.I. returns on the studies that support the government’s decision on what to do with $3.5B of our tax dollars. I have received no reply from either of them, though I know both of them professionally.
      Indeed what are “we” going to do about it?
      This just is not right. I think the message is “Do something and share it”
      I just wrote the Federal Environment Minister.
      What are you going to do?

    2. Given that the climate crisis is the defining issue of our time, fight tooth and nail to stop this and other climate crimes seems to be the only ethical path.

      1. Seriously ? Most hardworking and tax paying people care very little (among a choice of issues they face) about the alleged & highly exaggerated climate “crisis”. It is a man made illusion that we can meaningfully influence the climate 100 years hence.
        Even if Canada fell off the map of this earth, stopped using any oil from the evil tarsands shipped here via the evil pipelines produced by evil Albertans driving evil pick-up trucks then sent overseas by evil ships, used by evil Asians to get out of poverty so they can live like Canadians are accustomed to, nothing would change, especially if China keeps pumping out coal plants.
        THE defining crisis is ever expanding governments with ever increasing taxation, ever increasing debt loads and ever increasing demands by its ever more demanding but ever less working citizens. THAT is THE issue of our times: financial unsustainability. The climate, even if maybe (maybe not) 2-3 degrees warmer in 100 years – primarily due to natural causes like 10,000+ years ago will be just fine !
        Canada is a net beneficiary of warming: longer growing seasons for its crops, more ice free ports, lower heating bills in the winter and less death by freezing in the long winters.
        The bridge is one piece of required infrastructure that allow you to fret about climate change while you enjoy a 21st century life style that 90% of the planet aspires to !

      2. Eric; Cyclists and pedestrians have long called for a way to cross the river at this point. At last, the new bike lane and pedestrian paths, as well as a new dedicated transit passage across the river were critical in the decision to build this bridge. The reduction of pollution and CO2 from vehicles that now idle in congestion can only be measured in the millions of tonnes. The benefits to our healthy lifestyle and to the earth itself will be praised around the world for generations. This is sustainable infrastructure at its very best.

    3. Funny. I thought everyone who embarrased themselves equating the tunnel replace with the TL referendum was exhausted. It’s goofy.
      One is a complex, multi-governmental system that has huge implications (positive or negative) for dozens of communities, thousands of property owners, tens of thousands of workers (direct and indirect), and which creates enormous choices that will shape the region for decades. It involves many kilometres of infrastructuce, plant, equipment, machinery, labour, tax regimes, operating organizations, etc.
      The other is daylighting 750 metres of pavement. In situ. Before catastrophic failure.
      Is there anyone else?

  4. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers says autonomous vehicles will account for up to 75% of cars on the road by 2040. They will use road space far more efficiently and with far fewer accidents/delays.
    Combined with peer-to-peer ride sharing, this will radically change demand for road space.
    Green and financially-sustainable infrastructure will push developments in denser areas served by transit, not into greenfield suburbs served by this bridge.
    Was any of this factored into the business case for this “visionary” bridge?
    If BC taxpayers are paying $3.5b so McQuarrie can ship thermal coal rejected by other west coast ports and create three jobs at the terminal, then say so.

    1. Peter, thanks for your comments. It is really stunning that our colleagues Suzanne Anton and Sam Sullivan, apparently intelligent people who have served the public interest in Vancouver for so long, can remain so deaf, dumb and blind on this. I am flabbergasted. What kind of party whip is in place that would render the BC Minister of Justice and a MLA sitting on a Freedom of Information Committee so completely and utterly speechless?

  5. What is particularly galling is that coal exports from BC’s west coast are already down dramatically over the past 18-24 months:
    “These are tough times for coal export terminals on the West Coast.
    Ridley Terminals Inc. is being vastly underused – it is on pace to ship about 4.5 million tonnes of coal and petroleum coke this year, or one-quarter of its capacity. With coal prices in the dumpster, the federal Crown corporation suspended its ambitious expansion plans last year at the Port of Prince Rupert on British Columbia’s north coast.
    Ridley shipped 7.1 million tonnes in 2014 and a record 12.1 million tonnes in 2013. The terminal has been hurt by the shutdown of steel-making metallurgical (or coking) coal mines in northeastern British Columbia.”
    “Westshore Terminals Investment Corp. forecasts that exports next year from its site south of Vancouver will be 24 million to 24.5 million tonnes, down from the original expectation of 30 million tonnes.
    Westshore expects to be operating in 2016 at less than 75 per cent of its export capacity of 33 million tonnes.”
    “Another exporting site, Neptune Bulk Terminals (Canada) Ltd. in North Vancouver, has been running at roughly half of its coal capacity, industry observers say.
    Teck owns 46 per cent of Neptune and is the sole shipper of metallurgical coal through the facility. Despite low coal prices, Neptune has said it intends to expand its annual capacity to 18.5 million tonnes from 12.5 million tonnes.”
    Coal as a source of energy reached its global peak a couple years ago, and will likely continue its decline in the coming decades. US demand is forecast to drop another 50% in the next 20 years, most of Canada’s coal capacity will be shut down by 2030 (first Ontario, now Alberta). China’s explosive growth in coal use for energy over the past decade has now basically flatlined, and India will largely draw on its own reserves for its own growth (although solar and wind are forecast to explode in terms of installations).
    With the export declines that we’re already experiencing, and forecasts only looking negative, why is the province going ahead with this? And that’s before we talk about BC’s responsibilities towards the COP21 agreement…

    1. The coal shipped through Neptune Terminals is metallurgic coal, a completely different market than coal for energy.

        1. What he’s politely saying is that you have some skill at cobbling together a variety of info (and creating a website link), but have absolutely zero understanding of some of the basic concepts of energy and manufacturing usage. Even after you’ve been corrected, you don’t get it.

  6. And of course Tolls have been so successful on the Port Mann Bridge
    SURREY (NEWS1130) – Are you still avoiding tolls by steering clear of the Port Mann Bridge?
    Tuesday’s BC budget shows toll revenue for the bridge is more than $20 million below projections, while losses are up. Operating losses were $100 million this year and are expected to hit $106 million by 2017.
    TI Corp operates the bridge and had projected $75 million to $80 million in losses in the early years of the project, meaning this is a shortfall of up to $26 million.
    Without giving any specifics, the company says it is still on track to pay off the bridge by the original target date of 2050. But TI Corp did not return a phone call looking for comment on how they plan to do that or whether it will modify projections.

    1. Yes! Thank you for reminding us of this. If the Massey bridge is tolled, we have EVERY reason to believe people will take the free Alex Fraser instead. Call it the “Port Mann effect”.

  7. Is B.C.’s toll bridge experiment failing? Port Mann, Golden Ears facing huge losses
    “The Golden Ears Bridge is about to report a loss in the range of $38 million last year, as evidence mounts that B.C.’s experiment using tolls to pay for major urban bridges is failing badly.
    The problem: officials expected twice as many cars to use the Golden Ears Bridge than actually crossed the span in 2014 – collecting only about $42 million for a bridge that costs $80 million to run.
    “That proved to be inconsistent with what really happened. It’s more an art than a science and going forward we know we have to stress test those forecasts a little more,” said Fred Cummings, TransLink’s Vice-President of Engineering and Infrastructure Management.”

    1. They could turn the toll revenue issue around substantially by tolling all the crossings so that there’s no free alternative. And it sounds more and more like that’s something being considered. But I really have to wonder if they’d require a referendum for that one? So far their “No new taxes without a referendum” mantra seems to exclude tolls for some strange reason. Hmm…

  8. The Ministry has a document you can review and comment on. If you want your voice heard fill it out. My take after reading it: the report explicitly states the tunnel is not the limiting factors to ship traffic and the bridge will not have greater clearance than the Alex Fraser….so coal/LNG does not seem to be part of the business case. The business case I found seemed amazingly pie in the sky and the traffic projections are out to lunch. The rational for not doing much with a 8 lane bridge is truely weak. One interesting thing I did not realize is 60% of the destinations/origins are in Richmond.

    1. On the ladder of public involvement, that’s the lowest rung. Would expect something more open and transparent for a £3.5B expenditure. Where are the RFPs for their document that set out the scope and limitations of the study?

  9. I cannot believe you people are complaining about this. You get 10 new free bike lanes in the CoV and we in suburbs get only 1 new bridge for which we also need to pay a toll…

    1. Seriously DK?
      A referendum for $800M Transit proposal and yet no public process for something that will cost £3.5B … almost $4,000 for every household in Greater Vancouver … based on the hope that fairytale toll revenue will pay for it (check the Port Mann shortfalls). And that’s before we begin to calculate the wider environmental and economic costs.

    2. I don’t get how the proponents of this project completely ignore the colossal cost of this thing. It is totally irresponsible when we know 10 lanes is overbuilding, when we know the toll projects are pie-in-the-sky, and when we see the Patullo is a rickety death-trap that won’t make it through a serious earthquake. Come on people!!

  10. The Massey Crossing Bridge seems like a good deal compared to what the Chaplain Bridge in Montreal is costing. No tolls either. Since the Liberals came into power in Ottawa it’s going to be free to travel on.
    “The new Champlain Bridge will be toll free, but you, and the rest of Canada will have to pay for it.
    In an interview with the Journal de Montreal, Amarjeet Sohi, Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, said the Trudeau government will honour its campaign promise.
    Sohi said Prime Minister Trudeau gave him a clear mandate, no tolls no matter what.
    The tolls were a fundamental aspect of the financial framework of the contract signed by the Harper government and a consortium led by SNC-Lavalin.
    Sohi told the Journal the government will now use a renegotiation clause to open a new dialogue with the consortium, but admitted all Canadians will need to foot the bill.
    According to a study conducted by the parliamentary budget officer, a toll between $2.60 and $3.90 for each passage was needed until 2030 just to break even.
    Sohi did not give exact numbers on how much the move would cost Canadians, but promised the bridge would be completed on time and on budget.
    The new Champlain Bridge is expected to cost $4.2 billion, and should be completed in December 2018.” December 2, 2015
    As Rico points out above, the vast majority of users will come from Richmond and municipalities to the south.
    “We have waited in Delta a long, long time for an announcement to alleviate the problems of our commuters and our economy in terms of the truck traffic moving through that area,” said Delta Mayor Lois Jackson during the news conference. Hundreds of thousands of people agree.
    Vancouver Board of Trade chairman Tim Manning said the route is one of the province’s most critical transportation corridors, noting it connects the Metro Vancouver region to the U.S. highway system, the Tsawwassen ferry terminal, Port Metro Vancouver’s Deltaport container terminal and Vancouver’s airport.
    “The congestion caused by the existing tunnel and adjacent interchanges severely slows goods movement, which in turn, slows our economy,” Manning said in a release.
    The province also estimates the bridge will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by chopping up to one million hours of vehicle idling time per year.

  11. I would gladly use the skytrain – or bus to go to and from work and leave my car at home.. or sell it, the sad fact though is that the short sighted people running the so called “public” system in BC ( this includes BC Ferries) have failed to realise that many people do not work 9-5 and mon-fri… I don’t work those hours.. and many of us are now apparently going to be taxed – by way of what will be a large toll charge each way to get to and from work… I work 8pm – 8 pm 4 days on/off and have no choice but to use my car to get to work thru the George Massey Tunnel – because the public transit system doesn’t work for my shift and takes the better part of an hour and a half to get me there when my car ride is 15 minutes.. resulting in what would be a 16-18 hour day for me… serious health issues then arrise due to long work hours and additional time spent going to and from work on “public transit”
    Mandate a skytrain out to the ferry terminal in Delta and have it connect connect directly to the millenium line in Richmond close to the casino terminal… oh and while we are at it, how about running the skytrain from the airport 24/7 so that the people arriving in Vancouver from overseas after 10pm who have read that public transport is available to them can actually use it…. if we want mass transit that is used by people, then it needs to meed the needs of the people -and be a better choice than driving… better stop and think about a direct line thru Langley / Aldergrove to Abottsford.. oh wait there used to be a train line just for that … until the politicians decided it was not needed and tore the track up – selling the land for housing developments… But that direct line is much needed now.
    and finally, make the ALL politicians and public servants ride public transit to and from their homes and offices for a month while requiring them to begin work at their offices at 6 am and leaving at 6 to 7 pm and then change their hours so that they start at 2 pm and finish at 1030 pm – while conducting any and all business via transit… NO chauferred cars or personal vehicles allowed .. and then watch how fast they implement changes to make it better.

    1. Me1969, indeed the best transportation plan is a good land use plan. £3.5B could go a long long way to articulating an improved rapid transit system through the region in a way that would shape much more sustainable land use patterns than one based on (cough!) the car. Why force anyone to use transit? Done well, it should be something that people prefer over driving – more economical, less hassle. The challenge is to marry land use with mobility. Me, I cycle 30 km/day 5 days a week. I take trains when I need to and drive once in a while.
      Yours truly

  12. The smartest and most efficient way to oppose this would be via a legal case. Everything else is just hot air and evaporates into the heady and divisive – and mutually deaf – atmosphere of electoral politics.
    If there’s something wrong with it, take it to court.

    1. PS: notwithstanding common practice, “spend” remains a verb, not a noun. As do “ask,” “give,” and several other terms receiving daily grammatical abuse at the hands of grant-writers and increasingly in the wider public realm. Please do your part to preserve the rational use of language, and the valuable skill of plain speaking. In this case “cost” would do the trick.

    2. Really not sad; the fact we can go to court as citizens IS democracy. The polls are where we hire and fire our leadership; the courts where we call them to account. The fact that we consider it a last resort rather than a first one is a mark of failure to educate, because let’s face it, who benefits from reminding the people that the courts are there for them? Not a soul, other than the people themselves. And, absent vigorous use of the courts by the people, the courts have become a bit accustomed to letting the law develop in favour of those who routinely litigate: to regulate disputes among the powerful, rather than the fair distribution and use of power.
      But to do the courts justice (pun!) they have never been more accessible than they are today: if a lawyer can’t be hired and doesn’t volunteer, the self-represented litigant avenue is open. I will say that’s hardly easy (which I know because I do it) but it is available.
      Relative to the indignity of waving signs in the streets in the faint hope that someone will deign to pay attention, usually being stage-managed from behind by one of the powerful parties, or dancing like an infuriated leprechaun on the keyboard writing outraged diatribes that can be ignored with impunity, the courts are more effective by far – and as such, far more democratic.
      Even if a case is lost, the process also renders information visible far more reliably than does an FOI.

      1. We reject your adversarial, litigious approach to governance. It is one of the things that makes the US such a substandard society. Our courts are backlogged with legitimate cases waiting to be settled, but displaced with frivilous, vexatious, menacing actions such as what you suggest.
        Your naive pleadings are the same that was barked out to unenlightened supporters of CANY (Comm Assoc of ‘New’ Yaletown), even after the Supreme Court of Canada ordered them to desist. And find a meaningful hobby.

      2. Well, I don’t recall actually suggesting what type of action should be taken, and I’m not really a fan of menacing, whether in court or on blog conversations.
        However, you offer me the opportunity to clarify my point in a useful way.
        I didn’t suggest an action, and if I did, it certainly wouldn’t be frivolous or vexatious. Cases like CUNY show how important it is to formulate legal cases well and carefully choose the legal basis for action. In this situation, a legal action might target the process or the outcome, it needn’t target both. One of the beautiful elements of formulating a legal case is that it forces you to measure your own positions and beliefs against the law. Sometimes, it may turn out that your opposition is in fact just opinion, and that there is no legal basis for an action. This fostering of critical self-evaluation is a beneficial outcome that can improve harmony and mutual understanding.
        As far as resembling the US is concerned, that fork in the road was taken with the repatriation of the Charter and the subsequent onslaught of litigation designed to interpret its various clauses in various ways by various groups that mustered the resources to do so. Our courts are indeed backlogged, but I am not able to evaluate whether the cases are legitimate. However, I have no reason to assume that opponents or critics of this project would have less legitimate issues than those already lined up. These are reasonably informed commentators, even if I don’t always agree with them, and they are paying attention.

  13. So no information released in advance of a Provincial decision despite FOIs; a Provincial announcement yesterday; and a PR team leaping on blogs the day after. With pre-prepared statements from insider interests. Interesting.

  14. The Technical Briefing Presentation (also released yesterday) is found in the document library.
    It provides more detailed information, including diagrams showing the 5 overpasses and 3 interchanges that will be replaced along the 50 km long project.
    It also shows the proposed transit ramp (overpass or underpass) at Bridgeport Road (akin to the new Government Road bus ramp on Hwy 1) with a new bus transitway under the Oak St. Bridge to Bridgeport Station.
    (i.e. the $3.5 billion is NOT just for the bridge, despite what the newspapers may have you think).
    It also shows the impacts on agricultural and park lands posed by the rejected alternatives (new parallel tunnel or Tilbury Island bridge).

    1. The impacts on agricultural and park lands posed by the alternatives? Are you referring to slides 11 and 12 of the Technical Briefing? They show absolutely nothing, except a couple of coloured boxes. There are no numbers outlining potential impacts. There isn’t even an attempt at a qualitative description of possible impacts.
      If alternatives were seriously considered, each of them should have some kind of report showing a modicum of research. I looked at the document library link that you posted, but could find nothing.

  15. The 70 year old Massey tunnel needs replacement as it is aging and too high in the river to allow larger deeper container boats to carry freight up the Fraser.
    As such the ONLY question to ask is
    what is a better alternative ?
    Possible answers
    1) another, wider tunnel, deeper in the river
    2) a somewhat smaller bridge, maybe 8 lanes not ten.
    3) a ferry
    4) a sign: BC is closed for business & tourism. Go away.
    5) the current project
    With 1M+ people to arrive in the next few decades plus almost 3M here already, plus 30+ ports with little expansion room on Burrard inlet, we need more road and bridge capacity. With an HOV lane three more per side is the very minimum, and as such 10 lanes total is good for volume in 20 or 40 years, perhaps a tad too big for 2025, but who cares as the extra lane is almost free. As such, rather build too big than too narrow.
    Undiscussed in this context is the possible highway extension to Vancouver Island over an even larger bridge, so Vancouver Island can take some industrial activity and larger ports for export, kart her than just civil servants, students, tourism, seniors and the navy, who all contribute very little to a healthy tax base !
    Canada and especially BC and especially MetroVan is an exporting nation / region. All highways, trains and rivers end here. As such we need infrastructure to move stuff that comes by truck, car, boat or train and ship it from Canada to Asia, the fastest growing region in the world, or from Asia to the rest of Canada.
    Muesli eating blogging vegetarians sitting in their tiny condo in dense Yaletown or Kits would be well advised to get out more, and spend some time with families or truckers or blue collar workers not blogging here, as their livelihood depends on proper infrastructure.
    This bridge is primarily about out a healthy economy, Canada wide. Your pensions, your jobs, your quality of life off the tax revenue funded social services, healthcare or education depends on it !
    Indeed this bridge and Port Mann will be deemed visionary in 20 years and the SFPR as far too small.
    Oh yes, there will be a ped/bike path too for the dozen daily bikes and two bird watchers using the bridge as an observation deck !

  16. This is a daylighting 750 metres of pavement. In situ.
    This is building a new link before the link collapses catastrophically.
    Or, even more likely, structural tests deem it to unsafe to be used. Then what?
    Regarding shipping, only the centre portion of the tunnel needs to be removed.
    Burrard Inlet has been used for shipping for over 150 years and is almost entirely built-out, and there are competing land uses. Coal is a small and diminishing export. There is a huge current & forecast demand for containers. The Fraser River is the place for shipping expansion in the next 50 – 100 years.

    1. What will be the ecological and economic consequences of dredging the Fraser River for large container ships?

  17. James Mahadre (Dec 17 2015) “This is a daylighting 750 metres of pavement. In situ.”
    That is a familiar turn of phrase there.
    Alessandra Nibale (Nov 9, 2015) “One is…The other, is a local highway, involving daylighting 750 metres of pavement. In situ.”
    Dave Markoff (Sep 26, 2013) “One is….The other is daylighting 750 metres of pavement. In situ.”
    It goes beyond this phrase, the content and tone is pretty much the same throughout. So, do you three share notes?
    Looking at the posting history of each of the above (or the one person with multiple WordPress identities), there seems to be a limited range of post topics.

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