Infrastructure
May 29, 2018

$40,000 Sends Delta Mayor and Staff East to Plead for Massey Bridge


In the “you just can’t make this stuff up” department, City of Delta council has authorized a payment of $40,000 for Delta Mayor Lois Jackson and select staff to spend four days in Ottawa, followed by three days at a conference in Quebec City.
They’ll have just missed the National Capital’s Tulip Festival, but they’ll be there to demand, among other things, that the federal government just get on with building the Massey Bridge — Delta tax dollars hard at work.
Never mind that there is no funding in the provincial budget for this ten-lane, overbuilt and over-thought span, which would effectively seal the industrialization of this part of the Fraser River.

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Meanwhile South of the Fraser River where the 20th century rhetoric of motordom and industrialization reign supreme, Gateway Casinos soldiers on with a 70 million dollar casino to be plunked right beside the Delta side of the Massey Tunnel. But wait~Gateway Casinos insist this will “not be just about gambling but would provide an entertainment experience”. 
The property is owned by a company of Ron Toigo of White Spot. For motordom a new parking lot will be created with 800 parking spaces and 200,000 square feet built to accommodate gambling. The same Delta Mayor and City Council still insisting on their ten lane overbuilt Massey Bridge (with one double salary  dipping  provincial liberal MLA who also picks up a pay cheque as a Delta Councillor) still want their casino, located in a spot easily accessible by car. What a surprise. The 1960’s are alive and well in Delta.
The Delta Optimist  reports  “Gateway hopes to begin construction this fall with a grand opening in 2020. The project includes a five-storey, 116-room hotel, meeting space, eateries and a casino with 500 slots, 24 gaming tables and several e-tables. There would be room for further gaming expansion.In a statement, the company notes the community throughout the process has been very engaged and provided valuable feedback that will continue to shape the look and feel of the project.”
It is a bit odd that the language used about the casino is very similar to the language used about the one-sided process to “engage” the community about the last Provincial government’s multi billion dollar Massey Bridge. Regardless, the Delta Mayor and Council have agreed to fast track this proposal, which will provide Delta with an additional two to three million dollars annually with their casino “cut”.
As Gateway casino states this will “grow the community’s economy” by
creating new well-paying jobs in Delta while improving the entertainment and hospitality option in the community…“There is great potential in Delta and a Gateway entertainment destination, with a number of gaming and non-gaming attractions, on the Town and Country site would allow Delta to significantly advance its tourism strategy and deliver on the tourism objectives set out in the strategy.”
Imagine if a seniors’ centre or new rental housing was fast tracked with such enthusiasm or as quickly as this casino is. Despite all the bad news emerging about where casino money is actually from, the City of Delta  hopes to have this casino before Council this month. If you can’t industrialize the Fraser River , you can  still plunk casinos on it.
So last century.

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From the CBC:

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson questioned why the provincial government couldn’t get federal funding for the Pattullo Bridge replacement as well.
“Normally major infrastructure projects have a large component of federal financing. So we have to be concerned that B.C. rushed into this alone, and missed out on almost a half billion dollars of federal infrastructure funding,” he said.

 
Do tell us how much the federal government had committed to the Massey crossing when it was pulled out of the air by Premier Clark in 2013.  Or whether in subsequent years the Feds ever committed a loonie to its construction.
And while you’re at it, please explain:

  • What regional plan included the construction of Massey?
  • How many Metro mayors in the region supported it?
  • What provincial transportation plan prioritized it?
  • Why the previous transportation minister, Kevin Falcon, had rejected it as a pointless project?
  • Why the Liberals imposed a referendum requirement only for transit and not for Massey or any other major highway project?

Do tell.
 

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Despite all you have been reading in the Vancouver Sun and other media sources about casinos and money laundering, the City of Delta is going full steam ahead with their application for a casino “entertainment complex” with 162,678 square feet, 47,000 square feet of which will be the new casino. This new addition to gambling will be located on the site of the Delta Town and Country Inn (owned by Ron Toigo of White Spot)  with a total of 800 parking spaces for customers.
As reported in the Delta Optimist there are a series of open houses with representatives from Gateway Casinos and the B.C. Lottery Corporation present. The casino in Richmond is not too happy either, thinking that their clientele will drive to this new location on the Delta side of the Massey Tunnel.  At the first open house the public wanted to know how this 70 million dollar gambling facility would impact traffic. And they also wanted to know why this was being built if there was no decision on upgrading the Massey crossing yet.
The City of Delta had estimated that they will glean up to two million dollars as their cut from the gambling. But last week the lottery corporation  “estimates revenue coming to Delta will be at the top end of its initial $1.5 million to $3 million projection based on the casino opening with 500 slot machines, a figure BCLC  has termed as a conservative estimate. The proposed Delta casino would be built to house up to 600 slot machines to accommodate potential future growth.” You can find out more about Delta’s new casino at the City of Delta’s website here.
There are also two more meetings coming up  Feb. 7 at the Sungod Recreation Centre in North Delta and Feb. 8 at the Harris Barn in Ladner from 4 to 8 p.m. A ‘multi-civic committee meeting” will be held on February 15 at 7 p.m. at the same location .It appears that this casino application is being fast tracked and will be before council in April with the public hearing scheduled for May.

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Doug Massey the son of George Massey (for whom the Massey Tunnel is named) spoke on radio regarding the memo and report prepared on options for the Massey Tunnel.  Mr. Massey had asked the previous provincial government in a Freedom of Information Request for information on potential options for a submersive tunnel. Mr. Massey received no information from his inquiry.  However  the report has now been released under the new Provincial government and the new Minister of Transportation, Claire Trevena. You can read the  April of 2013 TEC (Tunnel Engineering Consultants)  60 page presentation to Provincial staff here.
Massey TEC 4 april R2
The presentation from TEC includes an introduction to the Tunnel Engineering Consultants, some of their work (they are one of the leaders in tunnel technology in the world), specific observations on the Massey Tunnel, an outline of issues and considerations, and a section for “discussion”.
Despite what the previous Provincial government has said, this presentation notes that submersive tunnels can be safer than open highways, with separation of traffic flows, an escape gallery and good design and traffic control and management systems. The presentation highlighted the Busan and Geoje Island bridge/tunnel fixed link in South Korea, which is an eight kilometers long and is one of the deepest tunnels in the world because of a  major navigational channel. With  unfavourable ground, wave action and seismic conditions new techniques were used to create this tunnel which has been in successful operation since 2010.

In examining the Massey Tunnel, TEC looked at the various options for placing a new submersive tunnel. Those options included maintaining the existing crossing, replacing the crossing with a new tunnel or a bridge, maintaining the tunnel and building a bridge or new tunnel, and also maintaining the tunnel and building a new crossing in a new location. TEC prepared cross-section layouts, and looked at options for the future use of the existing tunnel. TEC recommended the use of a type of  tunnel similar to that used in the Femern tunnel providing an 18 kilometer submersive tunnel between Demark and Germany.
As described in the previous memo on Price Tags Vancouver, Provincial government staff saw this presentation and this submersive tunnel technology as an “eye opener”. There are however no cost estimates contained in this documentation to give a sense of the costs of building this tunnel, or what the thought process was for the Province to have dismissed this option.

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Price Tags Vancouver has reported on the fact that the previous Provincial Liberal Government did not release documentation that they had met with  Tunnel Engineering Consultants (TEC) who are top experts on immersed tunnel design and construction over the Massey Tunnel replacement. Formed in 1988, TEC has designed and managed some of the world’s “most challenging and innovative tunnel projects. “
The memo below was suppressed from a previous Freedom of Information request to the former Liberal Provincial Government for these type of materials. The memo below dated April 8 2013 outlines that Delcan, an engineering company  approached TEC to “make a presentation to the client the Province of British Columbia” and to update the client on the state of art in immersed tunnelling.”
The memo outlines that “a meeting was organized with 11 attendants from the Ministry of Transportation among which a few important decision making officials, like the regional director, regional managers and the program director for the Massey Tunnel replacement…besides general information about immersed tunnelling, special attention has been given to tunnel safety, earthquake resistance design and comparison with bridge solutions, which are among the important issues the Ministry is dealing with.”
And here is where it gets interesting~”At the end of the meeting attendants, especially the high-ranking officials said the presentation was an eye-opener to them. They further indicated that with this information a tunnel option, either as a full replacement or an additional to the existing one, again had become a viable option, where before they had disregarded that  option, with a new bridge being the only viable solution”.
You can read the full memo below.
M130046 Visit report George Massey Tunnel
 

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The Delta Optimist  has published a  letter that really should have  been their big headline. But never mind~Price Tags Vancouver will do it. We all remember the defeated Liberal government’s bandying around of the proposed multi-billion overbuilt Massey Bridge which would have provided ten lanes on the bridge and led to the industrialization of that part of the Fraser River. The ex premier of the province, Ms. Clark actually got on the podium and when asked during the election why this unsustainable bridge to congestion on each side of it was being built, happily announced “JOBS!”.
It turns out that despite what the past Provincial Liberal government said to the public and continually announced, there was another option to the building of this billion dollar bridge behemoth. Specialists from the Netherlands prepared a presentation~on twinning the existing tunnel in 2013. The Massey Tunnel is named after Douglas Massey’s father, and it was Mr. Massey who made a Freedom Of Information request to the then Provincial Liberal government. That turned up nothing. But a more recent repeated request turned up this Dutch Engineering twin tunnel study and it is publicly available courtesy of the new Transportation Minister, Claire Trevena.
As Mr. Massey wrote in the Optimist: “ A meeting was held on April 4, 2013 between the Ministry of Transportation and Tunnel Engineering Consultants (TEC) of the Netherlands to update the ministry on the state of the art of immersed tunneling.
The content of the 60-page presentation included introduction of TEC worldwide tunnel projects both recent and proposed, and cost-effective options for the George Massey Tunnel. Special attention was given to tunnel safety, earthquake resistance design and comparison with bridge solutions.
The following are quotes taken from that presentation:
1.Tunnels are more suited for various and poor soil conditions.
2. Tunnels are shorter in length than a bridge and have a smaller footprint.
3.Tunnels can be built parallel and close to existing tunnels.
4.Tunnel construction is capable of dealing with severe seismic conditions.
5.Tunnel construction where 80 to 90 per cent of the work could be done by local contractors.
6.Tunnels can be built “safer than an open highway.”
This Dutch team also recommended that they assess the structure and integrity of the current tunnel and increase river depth by using an asphalt mattress instead of riprap. They suggested using longitudinal ventilation and repurpose the existing ventilation ducts as escape pods and for conduits for cyclists and walkers, among other innovative ideas. This report was never made public. As Mr. Massey states ” the former Liberal government never revealed the true facts or alternatives to the public. Instead, it followed the demands of the Port of Vancouver and wrote fear mongering reports that suited its agenda of removing the George Massey Tunnel and deepening the lower Fraser River to suit present and future industrial interests.”
The Dutch have been creating these types of submerged tunnels successfully for years. Looking at twinning the tunnel would preserve the existing habitat and ecosystem of the Fraser, and restrain the industrialization of this sensitive bog and marshland.  Why was this report not released before to the public? And is this a viable option for  creating more capacity crossing the Fraser River?
As Mr. Massey summarizes that this sensitive area is “known the world over as vital component for a continued healthy ecosystem that supports a migratory food source for all marine and wildfowl life from the headwaters of the Fraser River along migratory routes of the Pacific Coast. May the true facts be known.”

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Vicki Huntington needs no introduction to the people living in Delta. Ms. Huntington was the former MLA for Delta South and has an outstanding  background of public service.  Among her many accomplishments she has been a band manager for the Gitanmaax First Nation in Hazelton, worked with the RCMP in their security services, and consulted with  ministers of the Crown in Ottawa. She also served five terms as a Councillor in the City of Delta and two terms as the MLA.  She believes strongly in maintaining farmland for future generations and has been recognized for her strong commitment to farming and nature.
Vicki did not run in the last Provincial election for her independent seat~had she run as an independent, she would have been part of the balance of power in the Provincial government coalition. Instead, Delta Councillor Ian Paton of the Liberals won that seat, and currently double dips between sitting on Delta Council (he is paid $62,000 a year plus his expenses) as well as sitting as an MLA where he makes an additional $106,000 plus. Mr. Paton was named newsmaker of the year  by the Delta Optimist, not for double dipping and denying Delta of a more independent voice on Council, but  because he became  a member of the Provincial legislature.  Mr. Paton claims to want the farmer’s best interest but has been unwavering in the support of a multi-billion dollar ten lane bridge which will industrialize the Fraser River, create congestion on either side of the bridge, and purportedly bring more industry to Delta.
What a shame that the Delta Optimist did not recognize Ms Huntington who was the first independent MLA in over sixty years, and the first to be re-elected. However Ms. Huntington has been appointed to the new committee reviewing the Agricultural Land Commission and Agricultural Land Reserve along with eight other members. Their mission is to provide  “strategic advice, policy guidance and recommendations on how to help revitalize the Agricultural Land Reserve and the Agricultural Land Commission to ensure the provincial goals of preserving agricultural land and encouraging farming and ranching continue to be a priority.”
There is no doubt that the Agricultural Land Reserve is essential to the health and food security of British Columbia and must be maintained for future generations. Price Tags Vancouver has already written about the City of Delta carving out ten acres of farmland for a “truck staging area” for port bound trucks, and how the Port of Vancouver has another  81 acres of farmland in Richmond to add to their 1,457 hectares currently in “industrial use”. It’s a huge problem~should the Port be allowed to take the most arable farmland in Canada to use for truck and container parking and portage? How can farmers be compensated and continue farming when they can garner economic windfalls from development through port expansion or pseudo “farm estates” to well-heeled buyers?
This new Agricultural Land Commission review  committee will seek opinions and feedback and hold meetings with  farming and ranching communities. Recommendations could include changes to the way the Agricultural Land Reserve and the Agricultural Land Commission is set up, regulated and administered. This review is badly needed to ensure that agricultural land is reserved for future populations, and to stop speculators buying up farmland for other purposes. The current MLA for Delta South Mr. Paton is already naysaying the committee appointments,  suggesting that maintaining land in agricultural use restrains the rights of farmers to get extra income from their land. But farmers and speculators did buy that agricultural land  ostensibly for agricultural purposes, and for the future of the region, we must ensure that this agricultural land, the very best in Canada, remains for future generations.

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In the “bad ideas that just won’t go away” department both Port Metro Vancouver and the Delta Optimist are out in force saying how important it is that new facilities are designed to accommodate mega cruise ships. These mega ships have been called “floating skyscrapers laid out sideways” and accommodate over 5,000 people. The gross tonnage is  over 100,000 tons, and these vessels are over 1000 feet wide by 225 wide. These floating cities are designed for the cruise companies to have great economies of scale, but set up logistical problems for ports that have to accommodate these vessels. Indeed there are already lists of places online that are purportedly being ruined by the visits of these behemoths.
But here is what Port Metro Vancouver says~they’ve had a two per cent increase in passenger volumes over the year and the Port says that cruises are a “critical economic driver” bringing in an average 3 million dollars per vessel stay into the economy.
Of course this means that the Port is already embarking on a “pre-feasibility” study to ascertain where this mega cruise ship dock is going to be. As Price Tags Vancouver has previously written the two potential locations are Port Metro Vancouver locations in Richmond  or Delta. Delta port is already trying to expand its facility to accommodate more cargo, despite the fact that such expansion will wipe out critical habitat for the  migratory western sandpiper. But back to those mega ships.
Such ships could provide more customers for the ailing Tsawwassen Mills mall which is failing to attract a mega amount of  customers outside of their annual Boxing Day sale. The ships could also bring candidates to the new casino which will be  potentially placed beside the Massey Tunnel. And in the words of the Delta Optimist “…the port has also been saying cruise lines are building bigger ships which Canada Place won’t be able to accommodate. This summer, a top official with Cruise Lines International Association told the media that Vancouver is behind other cities, such as Seattle, that are investing heavily in their port infrastructure. The Vancouver port shut down Ballantyne Pier to cruise ships in 2014, leaving Canada Place as the city’s only cruise terminal.”

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In the “you just can’t make this stuff up” department the Richmond News reports on three hapless thieves that tried to get away with a stolen car on the Steveston Highway. The car had been pinched from Coquitlam  and the auto abductors turned onto Highway 99 southbound-at  around 8:00 on Wednesday morning. Without local knowledge they quickly found out that at that time southbound traffic to the tunnel was funneled down to one lane with the counterflow lane providing three lanes through the tunnel going northbound. Not ideal when you are trying to travel quickly with a hot car.
Not to be outdone by the congestion, the driver of the stolen vehicle  “allegedly performed a U-turn and collided with a cement barrier.All three occupants were quickly arrested without incident and taken to hospital. No other vehicles were involved.”
And yes, the three occupants in the vehicle were all from Coquitlam. As one member of the RCMP observed “Timing is very important but so is recognizing the subtleties of behaviourofficers were quick to identify the stolen car and maximize public safety. Traffic congestion is generally disliked by all, but in this case, it lent us a helping hand.
“We are also thankful for the patience from other motorists who may have been affected by the three folks we arrested. It is believed that they may be now on Santa’s naughty list.”

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