Stephen Rees's blog

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

Premier defends decisions in Delta

with 2 comments

Delta Optimist

DO: James says Prince Rupert must seriously be considered the site of future port expansion. What’s your view on further expansion at Deltaport and how does Prince Rupert figure in the equation?

Campbell: “I think the first thing the leader of the opposition has to do is start doing some homework. She obviously doesn’t understand the demands on our ports, whether it’s Deltaport or the Metro Vancouver port or the Prince Rupert port. There’s enormous demand for the Prince Rupert port. It’s there because of the work we’ve done and we continue to work and negotiate on that. We hope to expand that significantly.

But there will be additional expansion pressures on Deltaport as well. We need to do both of those in order to move forward.

Let me be clear about this: Carole James is not for the Pacific Gateway project. She’s been opposed to it. She said the Port Mann Bridge is the wrong place at the wrong time. She’s voted against every initiative to expand and improve our transportation infrastructure we’ve had as long as she’s been the leader of the opposition. She’s opposed to it, I suppose under the false pretense that somehow or another we’ll take care of all the demands that are coming towards the West Coast of Canada and North America at Prince Rupert port. That, quite frankly, shows a pretty profound misunderstanding of the demands placed on us.

We are the only ports on the West Coast of North America that have seen our container traffic increase in the last year. And only the NDP would say, ‘Let’s stop the investment. Let’s stop the activities that are taking place at a time most Canadians and most British Columbians are saying we should secure our economy and let’s make sure we have jobs.’

The Pacific Gateway project itself is about 3,500 jobs. The South Fraser Perimeter Road is about 3,500 jobs itself, and she’s done no homework on that and doesn’t understand what decisions have been made. So she says, ‘Let’s send it all to Prince Rupert.’ We’re going to do a lot of investment in Prince Rupert, but it’s only going to be balanced off by the investments in other ports in British Columbia.”

It is a sizeable chunk of newspaper the Premier has been handed here. And this is the second part of it – I mised the first one. And I don’t usually like quoting so extensively – but this man is busy diging his own grave with his teeth. And just in case one of his supporters tries to accuse me of quoting him out of context I put in the whole chunk about the Gateway.

So let’s take a look at some of his statements

there will be additional expansion pressures on Deltaport

Now why would anyone who has “done their homework” think that. Traffic through all of the Pacific Coast ports has been in decline – for years now. Most economic forecasts are cautious predicting a return to growth – as the impact of the recent attempts to reflate the US economy – and the world – have yet to produce any growth at all. Indeed Socitabank is now saying there will be no growth until 2010. And the previous pattern of US consumption of cheap chinese goods seems unlikely to return due to the expected rise in the cost of oil and the inevitable collapse of the US dollar once all this liquidity they have been pumping in starts to show up. At present the banks are just sitting on the bail out funds and refuse to lend.

He also only talks about Prince Rupert – that was the question – which means he does not have to mention the impact of the opening of the new Panama Canal or the North West Passage – both of which will dramatically reduce the need to ship through the pacific coast.

We are the only ports on the West Coast of North America that have seen our container traffic increase in the last year.

So he knows the container market is down. One of the reasons that our traffic stayed up is that Canada’s economy did not nose drive two years ago. We were not that exposed to daft mortgage lending – but the consequences of US finanacial deregulation sure are hitting Canada hard now. So we can confidently expect that container traffic next year will be very much lower – and indeed casual observation of Deltaport shows that is already visible. At one time the trucks were lining up along Deltaport Way all the way back to Highway #17. Recently there has been no line up at all. (Six days ago I was able to take pictures of mid train locos on a coal train  – there was not a truck or a contianer train in the way)

ES44AC mid train dpus - the lack of container activity means I could get a clean shot at them.

ES44AC mid train dpus - the lack of container activity means I could get a clean shot at them.

More than 5,000 people took part, for example, in the open houses that took place around the South Fraser Perimeter Road. There’s balances you have to make and make the best decision to the consideration all the people have.

The balances incuding trading off the threat toBurns Bog with the threat to the ALR. How balanced is putting a road designed to carry heavy truck traffic close to elementary schools? Ignoring the archaelogical records and buidling across First Nation sacred sites – in return for some money and land to one nation – is that your idea of balance? Ignoring the existence of species threatened with extirpation for an illusion of economic growth? Is that balance.

And if the Gateway itself is 3,500 jobs – and includes the SFPR – how can the SFPR be 3,500 jobs? That means none of the rest of the Gateway creates one single job? I think the Premier misspoke.

under the B.C. Liberals we’ve seen an increase in the Agricultural Land Reserve. In 2000, it was about 4,720,000 hectares; today it’s 4,759,000 hecatres. So we’ve been adding land to the reserve because we think it’s important.

Well that is true if you think an acre of the highest quality agricultural land in Delta has the same food growing potential as an acre of marginal land in the north. I am no agronomist but I do know how land values work and I think the Premier is deliberately misleading with this statement.

DO: Are there any plans to upgrade or replace the George Massey Tunnel?

Campbell: “We have to look at how we are going to carry on and build our transportation strategy. We have a $14- billion public transit strategy that I think will help in some ways. I think the new Canada Line in some ways will help relieve some of the pressure there.

There’s actually three more paragraphs of this waffle. He makes no commitments – very wisely. But this opening  shows that he is groping at straws. There is not a $14bn stragtegy – there is a hope that the federal government will send some of its promised regeneration money this way – but the whole thing hangs on P3s which are unfinancable now – and in the foreseeable future. And the Canada Line does not help Delta residents at all. Some will tolerate being told to get off their bus and try to squeeze on to a crowded train with few seats – and some will have no choice. My bet will be that we will see a rerun of what happened with the #98 BLine. Three months after that was introduced with the forced transfer peak hour only express buses were back beween Richmond and downtown. The Canada Line has been undersized to keep costs down – and has little scope for expansion. My bet will be that direct express buses will be need at peak hours very soon after it opens.

Written by Stephen Rees

December 17, 2008 at 1:33 pm

Posted in Gateway, transit

2 Responses

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  1. I am just watching the e2 series at the PBS website. It’s amazing what cities like London and Paris have done to recreate themselves as more livable places, and even more amazing the thinking of Gordon Campbell and Kevin Falcon in what they’re doing here in BC. Despite ridiculous claims that Vancouver is a “world city” and BC is the “Best Place on Earth” (a slogan that never fails to embarrass me in conversations with my foreign friends!) they pursue policies that are so far off what true world cities are doing it’s almost laughable.

    Don’t these guys travel? Are they so busy or caught up in political games here in BC that they really can’t see what the rest of the world is doing? I mean, places like Bogota are so far ahead of us in their thinking that we are starting to look like a city version of the Big 3 automakers.


    December 17, 2008 at 5:13 pm

  2. I live in Delta and I am offended by the Optimist’s spread on the Premier. What this is called is ‘damage control’. Gateway, the power lines, Delta Hospital are but a few items that Delta has been shafted, by Gordo and his pet ‘fencepost with hair’.

    May 2009, will determine if the Gordo stench lasts. Somehow I think not!

    Malcolm J.

    December 18, 2008 at 6:23 am

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