Surprising turn of events with Port of Vancouver re Fraser River dredging, Massey Tunnel

South Arm of the Fraser at Steveston

A scene along Fraser River near Steveston

On the headlined topic, we received the following compilation of materials from Susan Jones at the end of May 2017, and provide it for readers here, with permission. She quotes official documents and other materials obtained through FOI inquiry, and then provides her own insightful commentary which we indicate with blue italics.

The revelations described here undermine the provincial government’s “justification” for building the proposed new bridge over the Fraser to replace the Massey Tunnel. Implications are in the billions of dollars.

Two attachments:


Attached is a surprising Press Release from Port of Vancouver.

“The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority announced today that it has no plans to further deepen the Fraser River to accommodate larger vessels as it, together with existing marine terminal properties and port industrial lands, can sufficiently handle Canada’s trade for the foreseeable future.”

This is an astonishing turnabout from the Port of Vancouver as the Port worked with the BC Government for 3 years in planning the replacement of the George Massey Tunnel with a massive bridge.  Freedom of Information documents disclose communications about dredging the river and clearance requirements for larger shipping vessels up the south arm of the Fraser River.

Fraser Surrey Docks, which operates under the Port of Vancouver Authority, lobbied to get federal support for deeper dredging of the Fraser.  Jeff Scott, President and CEO of Fraser Surrey Docks, met with the federal Deputy Minister of Finance on February 28, 2013 to discuss expansion plans for Fraser Surrey Docks.  A Memorandum prepared for the Deputy Minister stated:

“Fraser Surrey Docks is currently operating below capacity.  Its location on the Fraser River limits it ability to service the larger, deep-draft vessels that are becoming the norm in container and bulk export markets…

Dredging Project

The company has developed a proposal providing for the large scale dredging of the Fraser River in order to accommodate larger vessels (dredging is limited to a depth of 13.5 metres due to the George Massey Tunnel that runs underneath the Fraser River).  The proposal was presented in late 2012 to the federal Ministers and officials including the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the Clerk of the Privy Council, and the Deputy Minister and Assistant Deputy Minister (Policy) at Transport Canada.  Fraser Surrey Docks recommends the costs of dredging (estimated at $180 million and $250 million over 5 years) be shared equally between the federal government, Port Metro Vancouver and the company.  … the port assumes that the existing tunnel will be replaced by a bridge or a deeper tunnel that would not constrain navigation.”

The Gateway Transportation Collaboration Forum also includes deeper dredging of the Fraser in their list of future projects.

The Gateway Transportation Collaboration Forum includes: Transport Canada, B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) Translink, Greater Vancouver Gateway Council (GVGC), and Port Metro Vancouver.


March 31, 2015          Report on:  Gateway Transportation Collaboration Forum website.  

Scrolled Page 17/49. EXCERPT: Continue reading

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Translink AGM and June Board Meeting, June 23, 2017 (Fri)

Translink file photo of train

Translink file photo of train

TransLink Annual General Meeting
Jun 23, 2017, 9 a.m. – 10 a.m.
TransLink Head Office, 400 – 287 Nelson’s Court, New Westminster, BC V3L 0E7

Review of 2016 highlights and open the floor to questions.

Translink June Board Meeting will follow after a brief break.


Both events will be streamed and available following the meeting.

More information about Translink:


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Threats mount as Govts of Canada & BC contravene and alter laws to permit destruction of lower Fraser River & Estuary – Article submission

The following extensive material was provided to MetroVanWatch by frequent contributor Peter Van Der Velden.

South Arm of the Fraser at Steveston*****

Threats mount as the Governments of Canada and British Columbia deliberately contravene and alter laws to permit devastating destruction of the lower Fraser River and Estuary in British Columbia

What remains of the Fraser Estuary is being threatened by development undertaken and proposed fort the benefit of the Port of Vancouver. Along the lower Fraser River, only 15–20% of the marsh, mudflats, eelgrass and river habitats of a century ago remain.

  • The Fraser, the world’s greatest salmon river, is in the top 50 Heritage Rivers in the world.
  • The estuary, critical habitat for fish and wildlife, is Canada’s largest wintering habitat for waterfowl and birds of prey.
  • As a part of the Pacific Flyway it serves as:

“An international crossroad of bird migration routes from 20 countries and three continents”.  (

  • The estuary is a regular foraging area for the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales (Orcas).
  • The Orcas depend on the Chinook Salmon from the Fraser for 90% of their diet.

Global significance and designations of the Fraser River

  • Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network Site of Hemispheric Importance (highest designation)
  • Ramsar Site as a Wetland of International Importance
  • Listed by Birdlife International as an IBA (Important Bird and Biodiversity Area) in Danger

The Port of Vancouver is promoting numerous major industrial projects that will destroy this amazing, globally significant jewel. The Fraser River, the estuary and the Salish Sea are threatened by this industrialization.

The Governments of Canada and British Columbia collaborate with the Port of Vancouver on projects built on public and private lands. Tax dollars are used to provide the infrastructure servicing these projects.

$10 billion in federal, provincial and municipal tax dollars have been spent on infrastructure to serve the Port of Vancouver and vested interests. The Gateway Transportation Collaboration Forum is planning to spend another $10 billion tax dollars.

The Federal and Provincial Governments collaborate with the Port of Vancouver on major industrial developments and related infrastructure and then claim no authority with Port decisions.

Until 2008, Metro Vancouver’s ports were run by local authorities with port expertise and experience: Continue reading

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Regional Planning Committee 10-Mar-2017 (Fri) to discuss “Metro 2040”: 5-year review: Yes or No?

Metro Vancouver Board livefeedThe Regional Planning Committee on Friday, March 10, 2017 (9 am start, Metro Vancouver headquarters in Burnaby), is scheduled to hear a report  from staff on “Metro Vancouver 2040: Shaping our Future: Consideration of a Review.” By law, Metro Vancouver is required to “consider” a five-year review of the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) adopted in 2011 and supposed to carry us through to 2040. This is an important topic for the 2.5+ million residents of the region, but meaningful opportunities for public input are few and far between.

The staff recommendation is NOT to conduct a 5-year review of the RGS. The agenda and related reports were posted on the Metro Vancouver website late this afternoon (total package 25 MB, 163 pages, download here:

Below is an excerpt of the related parts of the agenda for March 10.

3.1 Randy Helten, CityHallWatch Media Foundation
Subject: Conducting a review that gives adequate consideration to the findings of
Census 2016.



5.1 Metro Vancouver 2040: Shaping our Future: Consideration of a Review
Designated Speaker:
Heather McNell, Division Manager of Growth Management
Parks, Planning and Environment Department
That the MVRD Board:
a) Confirm that amendments to the regional growth strategy will continue to be
considered on an ongoing and as‐needed basis;
b) Notify the Minister of Community of Sport and Cultural Development that a
review of the regional growth strategy for amendment as per section 452(2) of
the Local Government Act is not required at this time; and
c) Direct staff to continue to actively engage with member local governments,
health authorities and other interested parties regarding regional growth strategy
implementation and potential policy improvements. Continue reading

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Heads up: “Metro Vancouver 2040: Shaping our Future”: Is 5-year review of regional growth strategy needed? Yes? No? Crucial meeting Mar 10 (Fri)


From top page of Metro Vancouver website

Heads up: On March 10, 2017 the “Regional Planning Committee” of Metro Vancouver will review feedback from member municipalities and other organizations as to whether or not there is a need for a review of the regional growth strategy (RGS) at this time.

(Input from the public on this topic so far may have been virtually zero, as we are not aware of any meaningful effort by Metro Vancouver or member municipalities to reach out and ask citizens or the public for input. Meanwhile, the Census 2016 initial results have been released, and more details are expected in the coming months. How does the Census affect population projections to 2040, for the region, and per municipality. Today (Feb 28) would be the official deadline (7 working days) to request to speak to the RPC, though there appear to be allowances for late requests (see below). The actual written report  to the RPC is already complete, but not yet available to the public. We can expect it to appear on the Metro Vancouver website by the end of this week. If you think you want to speak to the RPC, you may be wise to e-mail your request today (Feb 28), then reconfirm once you see the details. The meeting will be at Metro Vancouver headquarters, 9 am start on March 10 (4330 Kingsway Burnaby, BC V5H 4G8).

From the Metro Vancouver website:

The five year anniversary of the Metro Vancouver Board’s adoption of Metro Vancouver 2040: Shaping our Future (Metro 2040), the regional growth strategy, was this past summer (July 29, 2016). Metro 2040 sets out the collaborative vision for how our region will accommodate and shape anticipated long-term growth in a way that advances livability, protects important industrial, agricultural, and conservation lands, supports a diverse economy and supports the efficient and affordable provision of infrastructure such as transit and utilities.

The Local Government Act requires that: “at least every 5 years, a regional district that has an adopted regional growth strategy must consider whether the regional growth strategy must be reviewed for possible amendment”. Continue reading

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We need to protect our community from urban sprawl (Peter van der Velden, op ed, 24-Feb-2017, Delta Optimist)

Massey replacement bridge image, little lies, MVW, 26-Apr-2016

Artist’s concept of proposed bridge to replace Massey Tunnel

This op ed appeared in the Delta Optimist on 24-Feb-2017 ( under the headline “We could all be paying dearly for urban sprawl from bridge.” Reprinted here with permission of the author, Peter van der Velden.

There will be incredible pressure on Delta to develop should the Massey Bridge be built. Residential development will not be the only source of pressure. The CEO for the Port of Vancouver (PoV) has made it clear that the Port wants access to more land for industrial purposes. This has caused speculation. Speculation always drives up land prices.

Recently the city of Vancouver raised the fees for development permits. They made it clear that the costs for development are greater than the income that permits generate. This means that the capital costs for all development is subsidized by the taxpayer. In a city like Vancouver where infrastructure is largely in place this is a lesser concern. Development follows high density zoning patterns. Once density is achieved the increase in tax base helps cover the operating costs of that infrastructure. Continue reading

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New “” site catalogs empty homes in Metro Vancouver region


Screenshot of top page

CBC Radio this morning had an interview with Christine Boehringer, founder of Lonely Homes, a website ( that tracks empty homes (“positively identified houses or strata units … hat are not being lived in”) in the Greater Vancouver region. Information collected is “anonymized” to protect privacy and security, but this information could be a helpful tool to help develop a better understanding of the housing situation.

According to the website, the effort started by friends discussing the many ways lonely homes affect us. “No political party is driving it; we care about our community and want to maintain it. We are not affiliated with any government or real estate entity and we aren’t selling your email address. We’re just a small group of people who have followed all the newspaper stories and commentaries about housing in our communities.” They ask people to monitor their own neighbourhood and take two minutes to report lonely homes. The summary data by postal code “will be made available to local governments in Greater Vancouver to help drive policy and taxation planning.” As of today, 103 are indicated for the city of Vancouver.

Excerpt from site

Why are we doing this?
Lonely homes:

  • Inflate housing prices – Foreign buyers compete for homes and drive up prices well beyond the payscale of most British Columbians.
  • Raise property taxes – A higher home value means more property tax. Also, municipalities must provide services like water, sewer and garbage pick-up to vacant homes even if those services are not used. Municipalities could spend millions of tax dollars to build unnecessary infrastructure and services.

Continue reading

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