An architectural model of the Massey Bridge. (James Smith photo)

Massey Tunnel replacement debate spinning its wheels

Emotions are high but arguments on all sides have been reduced to overly-simple soundbites

I have now restarted this column so many times that I’m starting to wonder what I was hoping to accomplish by writing it.

Initially, I wanted to look at how the rationales both for and against the 10-lane bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel have been repeated and simplified to the point that most — if not all — nuance has been lost. Headlines and one-line sound bites have become the full story as far as many people are concerned, facts be damned.

The original point of this column was to say that everyone needs to step back, take a deep breath, cool it on the rhetoric and re-acquaint themselves with the details of both the project and the arguments for and against it. You know, try to gain some perspective on things.

At least, that was the plan.

Before sitting down to write this column, and in preparation for a yet-to-be-written article re-examining the arguments for and against the project, I sat down with Greg Moore, Metro Vancouver board chair and mayor of Port Coquitlam.

Moore stressed that the mayors weren’t opposed to the Massey Tunnel replacement project as a whole, but rather the size of it. In a nutshell, 10 lanes is too big and not in line with TransLink’s 10-year transportation plan.

He said the mayors want the province to work with Metro Vancouver and TransLink to come up with a solution that takes into account the regional impact of the project.

Sounds good, I thought, get everyone on the same page and work towards a common goal. I should write a column about that.

The next day, Thursday, July 27, Delta sent out a press release saying the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation had defeated a motion from Mayor Lois Jackson to allow Delta’s Chief Administrative Officer George Harvie to speak about the Massey Tunnel replacement project “and the opportunity for the Highway 99 corridor to benefit from $500 million in transit improvements,” on the grounds that it is a provincial initiative and outside their mandate.

“I don’t think we should spend time at TransLink dealing with issues that are outside of our jurisdiction,” Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan is quoted as saying in the press release.

I wasn’t there, but a colleague who was said that’s more or less how it went down. So what are we to make of it?

If the mayors want the province to consider the impacts of the proposed bridge on transportation in the region, shouldn’t the regional transportation authority have a least a cursory conversation about the province’s investment in a major piece of transportation infrastructure?

If Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevena does sit down with the mayors, shouldn’t they have some kind of preferred course of action ratified and ready to show her? That’s hard to do if the mayors refuse to even discuss the project.

Mayor Jackson has repeatedly said the bridge has become a political issue and that the “boys club” at Metro Vancouver and the TransLink Mayor’s Council has shut down any meaningful debate about the project in favour of focusing on pet projects like the Broadway SkyTrain extension and Surrey LRT.

Jackson’s comments may be coloured by her frustration at having to lobby alone for a project she believes is right for the region and until election night thought was a sure thing, but if the Mayors’ Council really wanted to disprove her allegations and prove they were ready to collaborate with the province, they just blew a heck of an opportunity to do so.

So, that said, what’s the point of this column? Same as it ever was, I guess: don’t believe the hype (even from me). Go back to the source and make your own informed decision about what’s best for Delta, for Metro Vancouver and for B.C.

That way if the Mayor’s Council or the ministry of transportation and infrastructure, or even your friends and neighbours, come asking for your opinion, you can offer it confident that you actually know what you’re talking about, and that no one else is talking through you.

James Smith is the editor of the North Delta Reporter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Delta Police Department photo)
Delta police investigating after another teen girl followed in Tsawwassen

Police say a man in a burgundy car approached teen girls on at least two, possibly three occasions

(Photo: Twitter@SurreyRCMP)
Surrey Mounties, pet owners, bracing for Halloween

Last year the Surrey RCMP received 147 fireworks complaints on Diwali and 121 on Halloween

Although B.C. has not made masks mandatory in public indoor spaces, some business owners are requiring all customers to wear them before entering their store. (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media photo)
Delta urging residents do their part to help stop the spread of COVID-19

“We all know what we need to do as a community to push the curve back down,” said Mayor George Harvie

White Rock RCMP are searching for Richard John Lewis, who is wanted on warrants for assault and uttering threats. (RCMP handout)
White Rock RCMP searching for wanted man

Richard John Lewis is wanted on warrants for assault, uttering threats

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Never before seen painting by famed B.C. artist Emily Carr gifted to Victoria gallery

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Stock photo
Pair’s lawsuit dismissed against Fraser Valley soccer association and churches

Judge in Abbotsford calls claims against 14 defendants ‘an abuse of the court’s process’

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

The B.C. Teacher Regulation Branch has issued a decision about the actions of an elementary school teacher in Langley. (Langley Advance Times files)
Langley elementary teacher suspended for grabbing, shoving, yelling at kids

Roxann Rojas will lose her legal authority to teach for two weeks from Oct. 25 to Nov. 7, 2020

Most Read