The Minister of Transportation plans a “groundbreaking” ceremony for the Massey Tunnel Replacement, complete with big yellow getting-things-done machines. The fact this “groundbreaking” is not related to any actual work being done on the Massey Tunnel Replacement and the main contracts for the construction work have not yet been awarded is apparently not important, in this exciting pre-election time. Nor was the fact the “groundbreaking” in front of big yellow getting-things-done machines was held 9 km away from the actual tunnel. This “groundbreaking” was going to require some pretty long shovels, but I guess it is long shovel season.
There were protesters at the event, but not many. The “groundbreaking” was early in the morning, pouring rain, in the middle of nowhere and announced with only a few hours warning, so I’m surprised any made it at all. They were irritating enough that the cops were called and the “groundbreaking” had to be moved indoors (read that again).
Quoth Minister Stone:
“We absolutely respect the views, the opinions of folks who do not support this project and we respect their rights to make those views known.”
The Minister reiterated that, despite a few protesters, the project is widely supported, based on three years of consultation with First Nations, Local Governments and other groups. However, noticeably absent from the “groundbreaking” were 21 of the 22 mayors of the region, or anyone representing the City where half the project is located. Even the MLA for the riding on the south foot of the tunnel was absent.
Coincidentally (?), many of the mayors were only a few kilometres further away from the “groundbreaking”, as they were assembled at King George Station announcing that they want people to think about the real regional transportation crisis when they vote in May – long term and secure funding of transit improvements to match the region’s vision for transportation in the decades ahead. Perhaps they feel less “consulted” about regional transportation issues than the Minister suggests, becasue 21 of 22 Mayors in Greater Vancouver are opposed to this project. The Mayors of this region are a notoriously disparate group of characters, and rarely agree on major policy issues or investment priorities, especially when it comes to transportation. We have Mayors who are former NDP MLAs and former BCLiberal MLAs. We have Mayors who are strong supporters of the federal Conservative Party, and those closely aligned with the Federal Liberals and NDP. Despite this, the Mayors (excepting one – which makes me expect if Mayor Jackson was a dentist, she would be that one-in-five recommending sugary gum) are aligned on this issue – they have a clear vision for the region for which they are responsible. They all agree that this massive expense by the province is a bad idea.
They have been “consulted”, they said no. Yet here we are.
I’m not sure if this “groundbreaking”event was paid for by the Ministry of Transportation or the Liberal Party (Ministers are having a hard time telling the difference these days) but the Minister made it clear that this was an election announcement, and that the only way to stop this $4 Billion (and counting!) boondoggle that is not supported by the Regional Growth Strategy, the Regional Transportation Plan, The Official Community Plans of adjacent communities, the Mayors and Councils of the region, or (so far!) the Federal government, and flies in the face of all good public policy in regards to sustainable transportation, climate change, regional land use policy or protection principles for the Fraser River and adjacent RAMSAR protected wetlands, is to vote to get him removed from the job of standing in front of yellow tractors for TV cameras to create the illusion that he is getting-things-done.
Minister Stone says election will present a choice — those wanting projects like this vs people like those “outside” (protesters) pic.twitter.com/U59EoQsrzx
— Martin MacMahon (@martinmacmahon) April 5, 2017
As a contrast, here is a clear and principled position of someone ready to help our region define and achieve its goals:
“I think the Massey replacement is a vanity project that is not a priority for the region, it is not a priority for the local mayors… The region wants their regional projects to go forward.” – John Horgan.
The choice is clear.