Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Enough with provincial misinformation

with 3 comments

Transportation Minister Todd Stone did a presentation recently to the Richmond Chamber of Commerce. The government then put out the following Fact Sheet

Fact-Sheet-Massey-Replacement-Myths-Mar-2016

I must admit that when I read it I became almost incoherent with rage. I think Myth #3 is the one that really did it for me. But then I have written more often about induced traffic more than any other topic I think. Seems that way to me. But fortunately I have found a fresh voice on these issues.

I am not going to take credit for the following letter to the editor which has been submitted by N. Herman of Richmond. He has generously allowed me to publish it here in case the mainstream media decide to ignore it.

No one disagrees that the Massey Tunnel is a traffic bottleneck. In many respects however, choosing the right solution can be a “life or death” proposition.

To replace the Massey Tunnel with a bridge has been a questionable proposition recently, and in fact (not a “myth”), it contradicts the same provincial governments own previous, public decision to add another tunnel. And make no mistake, the bridge is huge, in fact (not a “myth”), it will be the biggest bridge of its kind in North America. Think you are going to enjoy a quiet summer BBQ in the backyard ? How about a quiet night’s sleep? Aside from diesel particulate and other pollution blown down on your property, the din of bridge traffic noise, elevated above the river, may be heard miles into Richmond and Delta, and it will be relentless, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Stability of the bridge? It will be built in an area that is proven to have the highest risk of liquefaction during an earthquake. Think the “Fast Ferries” were a disaster? This liquefaction risk alone could turn $3.5 billion into worthless rubble in minutes. Has the provincial government completed its soil analysis ? Of course not, but its already spending your hard earned taxpayer money installing pilings.

We should also be clear that the real purpose of the bridge is to allow massive ocean going freighters to ship carbon based fuels on the Fraser River, which they cannot get access to now because of the tunnel. And contrary to Minister Stone, it is not a “myth” that the Port of Metro Vancouver repeatedly petitioned the provincial government to raise the bridge for this purpose. And what of those fuels? First we have LNG. Not a “myth” as claimed by Minister Stone, did you know that placing an LNG plant so close to a populated area is actually illegal in the United States due to EPA safety rules? If any LNG is spilled on the Fraser, the explosion radius can be measured in miles. If the USA has made it illegal, and it is against international industry regulations, why is the provincial government putting your life and the lives of your loved ones at risk?

And what about coal? Well as it turns out, it’s not even Canadian coal. The coal will be shipped from Wyoming in the United States. Again ask yourself “why” when Seattle and Portland both have good ports. Again, the answer is simple. Coal dust is carcinogenic: coal trans-shipment is banned in both those states. It’s not a “myth” that Premier Clark and Transportation Minister Stone seem to think its “a-ok” to put your life at risk doing something that is so dangerous, that it’s illegal in the USA. It currently appears that the Port further intents to pave over 2,500 acres of the Gilmore Farm right beside Steveston Highway in Richmond. So much for healthy local food.

[moderator: the location and size of the Gilmore Farm is the subject of some questions on another forum where Harold Steves clarifies: “The Gilmore Farm in East Richmond was bought by the port for port expansion. It is about 218 acres not 2,500. The Gilmore Estates is 324 acres south of Steveston Highway and has nothing to do with the port. Port Metro Vancouver wants 2,500 acres for port expansion and the Gilmore Farm is part of it.” ]

Then we have an expanded “jet fuel” tanker farm near the #6 Road entertainment complex, serviced by barges. So let’s ask ourselves what pervasive reason exists to use barges instead of just pumping the fuel from the Cherry Point refinery in Washington State? Again, it is a task of looking behind the real “myth” perpetrated by the provincial government. The moment fuel enters a pipe at the refinery, it must be paid for. When shipped by barges, it is not paid for until off-loaded. This allows the Airport consortium to therefore play the commodities market on fuel, which can amount to millions of dollars of profit a year. With no on-site personnel, and no dedicated fire station, how long do you think it will take for a disaster such as a massive firestorm to occur while they profit from playing the markets? Again, call your Liberal MLA and ask them why they think that’s ”a-ok” for the government to put our lives at risk.

The fact, not a “myth” is that Premier Clark, Transportation Minister Stone and the Port of Metro Vancouver have all flown to Ottawa to advocate for a project that according to a recent FOI request has zero documentation for a business case. Perhaps it was “triple deleted” or “verbal only”? Whatever happened to the provincial government’s pledge of honest disclosure and transparency? If a bridge is such a good idea, where is the report? Where is the independent environmental review”, and why should that even be an issue to them, if the idea is so good? The Mayors Council is demanding that the provincial government “come clean”, and stop this cynical illusion of public consultation that ridicules the publics intelligence with publicity stunts like the ” Debunking the Myths ” presentation that Minister Todd Stone tried to sell last week. Two pre- vetted “questions” were asked at the end of his presentation, and then he disappears faster than a magician.

People are “fed-up” of the government playing fast and loose with the truth. As the Transit Tax referendum results demonstrated, people are “done” with wasted tax dollars spent on pet projects to feed a political ego. The public is also “done” with false statements made regarding a bridge proposal with purported “massive public support” when investigative reporter Vaughn Palmer discovers that of 1,000 “consultations” only 140 were in support. This is as troubling as the Richmond Chamber of Commerce claiming “a majority of Richmond businesses support the bridge option” when they do not represent all businesses in Richmond, and another investigation reveals that in fact (not “myth”) over 80% of their members never even voted on the survey. Does every Mayor in the province realize that their own city’s budget for infrastructure has been slashed by 1/3 by the provincial government in order to build this one bridge? If not, they should be writing the Premier.

It is time to revisit the previous transit plan that Minister Kevin Falcon had developed that built a solid business case for an additional tunnel, and admit that a bridge has never been the best solution to relieve Massey tunnel traffic congestion. An expanded tunnel would economically, and with minimal environmental impact, allow for better traffic movement and an expanded rapid transit corridor.

The Province needs to listen and learn from the Metro Vancouver governments who are strongly united in their opposition to a bridge for good reason, and learn from them how best to create a transit corridor that will move us forward in a modern and effective way. The only real “myth” right now is the provincial government has been transparent and open. Enough of the Todd Stone flim-flam, and waste of our hard earned tax dollars.

Enough with unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats destroying the world heritage Fraser River with dangerous, life threatening over-industrialization that is illegal in other parts of North America. its time for citizens to take control of this foolishness before living in Richmond or Delta becomes a “life and death” situation.

Postscript : New Westminster Councillor Patrick Johnstone has now published a comprehensive debunking of the Ten Myths “Fact Sheet” on his blog – which in itself is well worth following

Written by Stephen Rees

April 10, 2016 at 11:16 am

3 Responses

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  1. I’m flabbergasted. I try to rely on Hanlon’s Razor when evaluating government actions and communications, but benefit of doubt can only go so far. Most of these responses are separated from reality in a way that any transportation engineer or planner right out of their undergrad would laugh at it. Who the hell is advising these people?

    patrickjohnstone

    April 12, 2016 at 2:36 pm

  2. Apparently a bunch of conservative hacks newly released from defeated administrations in Calgary and Ottawa

    Stephen Rees

    April 14, 2016 at 9:15 am

  3. Debunking real myths is usually accompanied with citations, references and good peer-reviewed research.

    In the absence of even one reference, this piece of work is pure disinformation from a senior government that itself needs to be debunked, de-propagandized and dethroned.

    A note on N. Herman’s editorial, the act of pile-driving is itself a seismic remediation measure for deep alluvial soils. Piles can be driven one on top of another, each one welded to the top of the sunk pile that preceded it, and therein achieve quite a depth. Cluster of multiple piles are usually spread out at an angle from the surface, bored or pumped out, then a rebar cage lowered into the tubes and high-strength concrete poured into them right to the bottom. A massive concrete footing is poured on top of them upon which the bridge columns are placed. This is all standard practice and is quite stable.

    That doesn’t mean to say a 10-lane monster bridge is needed in this location, or anywhere in Canada for that matter, especially considering the single-occupant car traffic that will inevitably congest the horrendously expensive massive increase in road space as long as fuel remains affordable. I suggest that oil prices will not stay low throughout the 35-year tolling period, and will in fact see several price spikes and troughs which will directly affect all those who bought gas guzzlers when prices were low, and who will still have to come up with toll money regardless of the price at the pump or their family finances after transportation has taken its bite. The tolls cover only the construction debt, not the operating costs which go on forever.

    And who knows what kind of world we will have in 35 years? It could become a very carbon-constrained world with gasoline prices in the stratosphere, at which point other uses for the bridge surface may be proposed. Perhaps housing, or farmland. Just think of the massive acreage the freeway occupies, and the views from the crest!

    MB

    April 14, 2016 at 4:19 pm


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