In the  Globe and Mail  Ian Bailey  reports that the proposed Massey Bridge which is slated to replace the Massey Tunnel at a cost of around $3.5 billion dollars is going to be an election issue. The leader of the New Democratic Party John Horgan stated “I won’t rule out a bridge, but I don’t believe that bridge is supported by the mayors and it’s not, certainly supported by the people of Richmond. ”

Now here is the piece that gets a bit weird. Everyone knows that this bridge is going to take out Class one farmland in the most fertile soils in Canada. We also know that despite what the Province is saying, that there will be dredging, probably by  the Port to allow for bigger, deeper  boats to bring things like LNG (liquid natural gas) by boat down the Fraser River. The dredging  will impact the salmon and the fragile estuary of the Fraser River. We also know that a ten lane bridge is a massive overbuild at this location and we know that all the Mayors of Metro Vancouver with the one exception of the Mayor of Delta have asked that this bridge be located elsewhere.

The Premier’s response was not about any of this. It was about the jobs being created to build this massive bridge.  Talking about John Horgan in the legislature, The Premier Ms. Clark stated He hates the plan to renew the George Massey bridge and put thousands of people to work.”  Somehow overbuilding this bridge in the wrong place has turned into a Provincial sponsored make-work project. This bridge once built will also be tolled at an estimated cost of $7.00 a trip, and because tolling will mean vehicles  will flee to toll free bridges, they will be tolled as well. 

Ian Bailey reports that Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation for the Province has had enough banter about the bridge. “We are now moving forward with the bridge. The decision has been made, period,” he said. “The talk is over. We’re moving forward with action.”

Even Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore, the chair of the Metro Vancouver Regional District, has stated that the Province’s multi-billion dollar bridge has been made without due consideration or process.  He noted “It was, ‘Here’s what we’re going to do. How do you like it?’”  While the mayors of Metro Vancouver understand that there is a need to ameliorate congestion, “… a 10-lane, auto-oriented bridge is too big in scope,” Mr. Moore said, expressing concerns about increased traffic and pressure to develop area farmland. We didn’t want to be presumptuous in stating what needs to be built. A more inclusive dialogue would get us to a better result,” he said.”

Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver also thinks the Liberals are building the bridge “as an excuse to dredge the Fraser River to allow for the easier transit of tankers for the liquified natural gas sector the Liberals back. In an interview, he also said he was concerned about farmland being impacted by the project.”

And it’s no surprise that Mr. Weaver also thought that twinning the current tunnel was probably a better idea.