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Archive for April 6th, 2017

Vaughn Palmer: ‘Forces of no’ dig in for tunnel replacement ceremony

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DSCN9158There was an opinion piece by Vaughn Palmer in the Vancouver Sun yesterday which did not give anything like a balanced coverage. The protest is against spending far too much money on a “solution” that we know will not work. Not against doing something about people currently experiencing long delays to get through the tunnel at some times of day. Groups like Fraser Voices have been concerned that the bridge was decided on in the Premier’s office – and all the effort since then has been to justify a quixotic choice. All the other options – including sticking to the BC Liberals’ previous plan – are simply ignored. And then they lie about the port’s intentions to deepen the ship channel.

So I wrote a Letter to The Editor.  I am putting this out here now because I think it is very unlikely to be published.


Vaughn Palmer’s characterization of the protest at the tunnel ceremony is not accurate. There are real alternatives to the $3.5bn vanity project that have not been adequately examined.

The real problem is congestion at peak periods. Traffic through the tunnel has actually been in steady decline for the last ten years. However, the Port of Vancouver operates the container terminal on bankers’ hours. Monday to Friday 8am to 4pm. No other port operates like that. It ensures that truck traffic uses the tunnel at peak periods, and makes the congestion worse. That is deliberate. It helps the port make the case for tunnel removal. There are plenty of records available that demonstrate the Port’s long term strategy for deepening the dredging of the channel – and the tunnel prevents that. In the short term, simply banning trucks at peak periods – and opening the container collection and delivery facilities  24/7 – will relieve the present problem.

In the longer term, congestion can never be solved by widening roads. Never has done, never will do. All that does is move the line-up to somewhere else. The only way to reduce car traffic is to increase transit service. One bus can carry many more people in a given length of road than cars can. The province has already invested in bus lanes both sides of the tunnel but service needs to be increased. And when that isn’t enough, add another tube on the river bed carrying light rail.

As for the claim that the “full freight will be covered by tolls”, it has not worked for the Port Mann or the Golden Ears. Why would the Massey replacement be any different?

Written by Stephen Rees

April 6, 2017 at 12:27 pm