“No Gateway Bailout” says Wilderness Committee on Budget Vote
Wilderness Committee Press Release
January 28, 2009
“If the federal budget allows for spending billions of our dollars on the environmentally and morally bankrupt Gateway project, it will be a tragic mistake that won’t solve our economic and transportation challenges. We will really regret it in the future,” said Surrey resident Jim Shook as he prepared to hand out leaflets calling for “No Gateway Bailout” at Scott Road Skytrain Station.
Until there is clarity about whether the federal government is in fact going to bail out the Gateway project, the Wilderness Committee and residents from around the Lower Mainland are working together to express their concerns about the federal budget. Volunteers will be distributing “bailout bucks” that look like dollar bills but feature pictures of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and BC Premier Gordon Campbell to transit users waiting for over-crowded buses, and entering busy Skytrain stations. The bailout bucks carry messages about financing problems for the proposed Gateway highway and bridge building project asking the question “Do YOU want to be left holding the bill?”
Last week members of the Wilderness Committee, the Livable Region Coalition, the CAW, the Hospital Employees’ Union, the Council of Canadians, the Unitarian Church and various community organizations from throughout the region distributed bailout bucks outside the Vancouver office of Australian investment bank Macquarie Group. The international bank had not met its commitment to finance the Highway 1 doubling and Port Mann Bridge twinning component of Gateway. This event was the beginning of a leafleting drive focusing attention on the federal government’s potential involvement in bailing out the failing project.
“The federal budget as proposed is unclear about whether the federal government will bailout Gateway. To paraphrase Mr. Ignatieff, we will be watching decision-makers from all parties like hawks on this matter, and our volunteers are encouraging people to express their concerns about a bailout of the Gateway project. The Wilderness Committee is interested in seeing any potential bailout funding redirected to improving public transit investment and light rail infrastructure as a Canadian priority,” said Ben West, Healthy Communities Campaigner for the Wilderness Committee.
“Volunteers from various groups and concerned citizens will be working in teams at Skytrain stations on both sides of the Fraser River to show their concern about increased carbon emissions, pollution, suburban sprawl and the inevitable increase congestion levels associated with the Gateway project. Now that the private funding has fallen apart they also want to make it clear that they don’t want to pay for Gateway,” added West.