Susan Jones of Delta, British Columbia, has shared with MetroVanWatch this letter, which she sent on May 7, 2016 to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and key members of the federal Cabinet, as well as many Members of Parliament based in B.C. (see list at bottom). We have added some bold for the convenience of readers. If your views are similar to those of Ms. Jones, or you would like to add your voice to the dialogue with the federal government, you may wish to write them yourself too. You can find your MP using your postal code. Also check out this related petition to Government of Canada, sponsored by MP Fin Donnelly on protection of the environment: https://petitions.parl.gc.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-345
Federal Accountability to the new B.C. bridge facilitating LNG and fuel supertankers on the Fraser River
To the Government of Canada, a letter by Susan Jones, Delta, B.C., May 7, 2016
As you are aware, the Government of British Columbia plans to build the largest bridge ever built in B.C. The BC Government is seeking federal funding. They claim it is to address a traffic bottleneck at the George Massey Tunnel across the lower end of the south arm of the globally-significant Fraser River delta.
Indeed traffic at the Massey Tunnel is congested. However, original plans to twin the existing tunnel (still good for several decades) were abandoned without public input, without explanation, and without a business plan. There are more modest alternatives to this over-sized, over-priced new bridge. One alternative is the original plan to twin the tunnel at less than 1 billion dollars as opposed to the $3.5 billion estimate for the new bridge. Another alternative is a much more modest bridge. Some informed sources state traffic congestion could be eased with rapid transit.
The B.C. Gateway Program Definition Report of January, 2006, recognized that twinning the tunnel would move congestion to the crossings over the North Arm of the Fraser River at the Oak Street and Knight Street Bridges. The Report stated upgrades would be needed at those locations as well as at the Massey Tunnel. Now the B.C. Government denies that congestion would move from the Massey Tunnel to the north arm of the Fraser River.
Correspondence obtained under Freedom of Information from the Port of Vancouver reveals that from 2012 to 2014, the Port of Vancouver worked with the federal government, the provincial government, B.C. Gateway and vested interests to plan this massive bridge. The municipalities and the public were not consulted. The correspondence reveals that the Port of Vancouver made it clear it needed a very high bridge, removal of the George Massey Tunnel and future dredging to facilitate supertankers and Aframax freighters carrying jet fuel, as well as LNG vessels on the Fraser River for the first time in history.
Is this the intent of the new Liberal Government in Ottawa? Does the Trudeau Government agree to let this occur with the high bridge? Does the Trudeau Government consent to the permits that have been granted from the National Energy Board and the Port of Vancouver to the LNG export and the jet fuel transportation on the Fraser River and through the narrow shipping channels to the Pacific? By not taking action, the federal Liberal Government is quickly becoming proponents of these dangerous plans.
Lack of action is interpreted as support for the very high bridge which is transparent in the goal of industrializing the south arm of the Fraser and urbanizing the Agricultural Land Reserve. While Liberal pundits are stating this is just a provincial transportation issue, the governments and people of Metro Vancouver are telling the Government of Canada this as a federal issue as well. The massive, very-high bridge will not be needed if the Canadian Government makes it clear that they will not permit supertankers on the Fraser River, and narrow shipping channels to the Pacific, due to public safety and the health of the Fraser River Delta ecosystem and Orca Pass.
The massive, very-high bridge will not be needed if the federal government takes control of the actions of the Port of Vancouver. Concerned citizens cannot compete with the paid lobbyists and bureaucrats who are guiding the new Liberal Government. The mega projects on the south arm of the Fraser River are not in the public interest but in the vested interest of a consortium of groups who want to use public assets and have taxpayers fund their agendas. The municipalities and the public have not been privy to business plans, feasibility plans, or cost/benefit analyses. Environmental, safety, and social impacts continue to be ignored.
The pundits in Ottawa are claiming a federal environmental review is not required for the new bridge. This is a loose interpretation aimed at avoiding accountability and transparency. The B.C. plans for the bridge include removal of the tunnel which will require federal permits. Under Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, this was being managed after Project approval which is deceitful and wrong. As federal permits will be required, the Ministers of Transport, Fisheries, and Environment have the ethical responsibility to initiate a federal environmental assessment. As there is a high rate of public concern, the Minister of Environment should call for a Review Panel Assessment as outlined in the current Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Anything less is avoidance of environmental and social protection, and a continuation of the policies of the Conservative Government.
The federal Liberal Government was elected into office due to the promises of real change which included acknowledgement that the Conservative Government under Stephen Harper weakened environmental protections. The Liberals promised to: ““immediately review environmental assessment processes and introduce new, fair processes….”
The promise of “immediately” is important. While pundits may claim it takes a while to put new legislation together, there is nothing to stop immediate reversal of the damage to environmental assessments under Bill C-38. If the Conservative Government was able to quickly destroy legislation that took years to develop, the Liberal Government should be able reverse it “immediately” as promised.
Other options include a moratorium on projects on the south arm of the Fraser River, and “immediate” reversal of legislative powers granted to the Port of Vancouver. The Liberals recognized the option to act quickly on these issues during the election so what is stopping them now?
“Qui tacet consentit“: “Silence gives consent”
Susan Jones, Delta, B.C
• Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau
• The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport And Persons with Disabilities
• The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, P.C., M.P., Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
• The Honourable Marc Garneau MP, Minister of Transport
• The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
• The Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, P.C., M.P.
• Minister of Infrastructure and Communities
• The Honourable Hunter Tootoo, P.C., M.P., Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
• The Honourable James Gordon Carr, Minister of Natural Resources
• Joe Peschisolido, MP Steveston-Richmond East
• Jonathan Wilkinson, MP North Vancouver
• Elizabeth May, Green Party Leader, MP Saanich – Gulf Islands
• Kennedy Stewart, MP Burnaby South
• Richard Cannings, MP South Okanagan-West Kootenay
• Finn Donnelly, MP Port Moody-Coquitlam
• Peter Julian, MP New Westminster-Burnaby
• Nathan Cullen, MP Skeena-Bulkley Valley