Details needed, please, before B.C. commits tax dollars to finance the Port Mann project
It is a surprise to find the Aspers climbing aboard this bandwagon. There are indeed serious questions that need to be answered about the Highway #1 expansion Port Mann twinning project (H1PM2). But that is nothing new – and indeed has been cited as the reason for not covering the issue up until – well a few days ago.
It is interesting to notice how much time has elapsed since Kevin Falcon’s announcement and the Sun’s response. This suggests to me that it had to be referred upstairs and was not something that came out easily. The language is carefully measured. Not actually questioning the project itself head on but
…why a project that has always been promoted as such a sure winner was unable to secure the private financing it needs to proceed.
The global financial crisis has pinched off funding for a number of projects. But money is still available at historically low rates to credit-worthy borrowers.
So that directs attention away from the fundamental misconception – that expanding freeways will help relieve traffic congestion – and concentrating on the credit worthiness of the consortium. Yes, there are doubts about MacQuarie, but the doubts about H1PM2 are much more important than that.
And the editorial continues in the same vein. It is all about risk and rewards and potential pit falls. And it is written as though the collapse of the False Creek Village was the most significant event that should change our views of such projects. Yes the deal the City signed in secret was a bad one – and it looks as though at least the CFO of the City told them that at the time. But the H1PM2 project has been wrong headed from the very start (and there is still no final agreement). Every process examining it was skewed to produce a favourable result.
Yes the taxpayers of BC risk getting stuck with a very expensive project again. But no matter who builds it, or how it is paid for, it will be a disaster for sustainability, liveability and will not achieve any improvement in mobility – except for a brief honeymoon period shortly after it opens. Just like the Alex Fraser Bridge brought much more traffic to New Westminster and Richmond a few short months after its opening. It will also ensure that there are no funds for much needed transit expansion and that the Faser Valley will continue to see auto-oriented sprawl expand.
If the Sun wants answers to questions about financial risk to taxpayers, why is it ignoring every other risk associated with this project? Why is the Sun unconcerned about being sold a project on the basis of traffic forecasts that ignore induced travel? How can we allow the province a free pass on an EA which simply ignored any impact it did not care to consider – and offered as mitigation schemes that are already in place for other projects? Why does the pocket book impact matter so much and every other impact matter not all?