The over-sized, over-priced bridge does NOT have public support
A guest post from Susan Jones of Fraser Voices
Public support new crossing of Fraser but not the planned bridge
Environmental Assessment: 96% of submissions opposed the bridge
Metro Vancouver: 21 of 22 Mayors oppose the bridge[i]
BC Minister of Transportation, Todd Stone, has been misrepresenting public opinion of the planned new bridge to replace the George Massey Tunnel. In January, 2017, former BC Premier Mike Harcourt claimed it would be a better idea to build another tunnel.[ii]
Minister Stone replied that another tunnel was more expensive and that Mr. Harcourt’s claims do not reflect the opinions of thousands of people who participated in the public consultations.[iii]
In fact, a review of the public consultations reveals that Mr. Harcourt’s comments do reflect public opinion which is strong opposition to the bridge.
Respondents to four consultation periods showed support for:
- another tunnel
- retention of the existing tunnel with upgrades
- rapid transit
- protection of farmland
Respondents expressed concerns about:
- costs to taxpayers
- plans to pay for the bridge with user tolls
- increasing number of trucks
- plans for LNG vessels on the river
- large shipping vessels on the river carrying jet fuel and coal
- lack of integrated regional transportation plan
- impacts of construction over several years
- destruction of habitat
- air pollution
The last opportunity for public input was the Environmental Assessment of the planned bridge to replace the George Massey Tunnel. (January 15, 2016 to February 16, 2016)[iv]
Of 446 written submissions, 22 offered comments without showing support or opposition to the planned bridge. Of the other 424 submissions, 96% expressed opposition to the bridge. Only 4% supported the bridge.
There were three earlier consultation periods. The first phase (November-December, 2012)[v] sought information from the public on usage of the tunnel. 16 written submissions were thoughtful comments about transit, environment and integrated regional planning. Many urged retention of the existing tunnel.
The second phase (March-April, 2013) offered 5 options but the feedback form did not provide opportunity for fair comment. The report of phase 2 claimed high support for a new bridge but there was no evidence to support the claim.
The information provided at the Open Houses and meetings was incomplete. Facilitators told attendees that a bridge is cheaper than a tunnel but did not provide evidence. One facilitator told the public that “only 2% of respondents in Phase 1 wanted to keep the tunnel”.
Many of the written submissions offered the same concerns as documented in the first phase. A number of written submissions opposed the bridge (21/47) while a small percentage expressed support (7/47).
The Third Consultation Period (December, 2015-January, 2016) occurred after the announcement of the bridge. The results of this phase were documented in a report prepared by Lucent Quay Consulting. The Report documented numerous issues raised by the public. There was considerable concern about costs and tolls.
Palmer: Liberals claim support for bridge tolls[vi]
March 31, 2016 7:22 am
VICTORIA: “The B.C. Liberals are claiming the latest round of public consultations has confirmed “strong public support” for their plan to replace the George Massey tunnel with a toll bridge.
But the summary report on those consultations, released Wednesday, tells a different story.
Those who commute through the often-congested tunnel on a daily basis likewise support the prospect of getting to and from work more quickly.
But there was precious little support for the more controversial aspects of the project.
Only 24 per cent of those responding via a publicly distributed feedback form made a point of saying they were “generally supportive” of the overall scope of the tunnel replacement plan. A further 31 per cent expressed conditional support for some aspects of the project as outlined on the feedback form.
But that was far from constituting an unqualified endorsement for the plan to remove the existing tunnel, replace it with a high-level 10-lane bridge, and reconstruct adjacent connecting roads and intersections at a combined cost of $3.5 billion.
Even more misleading was the government characterization of the survey’s findings on tolling.
Respondents were told only that the “province intends to fund the project through user tolls and is working with the federal government to determine potential funding partnerships.”
Most supporters of the bridge serve vested interests. The over-sized, over-priced bridge does not have public support.
Comments will be available on this page until March 15, 2016 and after this date all posted comments will be available through the EAO electronic Project Information Centre (ePIC) application
This document library includes information on all the phases of public input except the environmental assessment which is reference #iv