Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Tsawwassen treaty takedown

with 4 comments

Margaret Wente in the Globe and Mail talks to Bertha Williams and throws doubt at the treaty, but misses at one significant point.

“The government desperately needs land for a massive container port to expand our vital shipping trade to Asia.”

That one sentence shows that she really has not done her homework. The government doesn’t “need” the land – it has chosen to allow itself to be dragooned by the Gateway Council into a Port Strategy that was ill thought out in the first place and now seems bizarrely irrelevant. The decline of cross pacific container trade has been going on for two years now, and rising fuel costs, a declining US economy and a change in world trade patterns due to the collapse of the dollar all point to a reduction in the need for container terminal facilities. But like the treaty process, the Gateway has been rumbling on for many years and the original justification for it has long since passed.

“Vital” ? Who for? We really do not need to import so much of what we use. Manufacturing in North America is starting to pick up again as fuel costs and long lead times cut into margins. Asia is an important market for our exports – but not much of that moves in containers. It is mostly bulk cargo. It may be in future that we will start to make things here again. Instead of exporting raw logs, we could be making bookshelves for IKEA (they currently come from China) from some of our lumber. I can think of a number of mill towns that would love that opportunity.

I think she hits the nail on the head when she identifies the need for the BC Liberals to actually produce something out of the treaty process, even if it did mean outright vote buying. But that pressure to be “seen to be doing something” does not make it a good treaty or a wise land use and transportation plan for the region. In fact it is monumentally stupid to build something we don’t need, that will not do what it is said to do and is also costing us a fortune that could be better spent on meeting real needs. Both here and on the TFN reserve.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 21, 2008 at 9:27 am

Posted in Gateway

4 Responses

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  1. The whole treaty process was flawed,because it was motivated by port expansion,in other wprds unless the goverment (BC Liberals) have a stake in it,or their business freinds treaties don`t happen.

    I have a article to post but first I will offer a little commentry that you all will probably lambaste me over.

    The first nation bands are acting like goverments,the more money they get the more things stay the same,cheifs and money hoarders in the bands use the trickle down effect,the big wigs keep the money ,the leaders don`t want prosperity for their masses,they like the status quo!
    Yes,wrongs were committed but now wrongs are committed by first nations themselves.
    Please read the link I am providing before you lambaste me.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/lac.200806

    grant g

    June 21, 2008 at 10:00 am

  2. I don`t know what happened with the link but anyways the story is on the right side of the page of the tyee blog site

    Apparenty the musqueam have received tens of millions of dollars for their 600 members since the new year but none of the people have seen a dime and they chained up the band office and blocked both doors,cheif wilson has no answeres for his people,it seems first nations learn somethings from goverment quite well. THE TRICKLE DOWN EFFECT.

    grant g

    June 21, 2008 at 10:19 am

  3. Bertha Williams should be the head of the Tsawwassen Native Band, she has more common sense and true understanding of local native history than Baird. Which by the way, I believe now has a seat on the BC Hydro Board, but I stand to be corrected.

    Malcolm J.

    June 21, 2008 at 10:20 am


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