Stephen Rees's blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘SFPR

Financing fears grow over P3 projects

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Jeff Nagel

The world’s financial house of cards is tumbling down, but “Partnerships BC CEO Larry Blain said he is “pretty relaxed” “. So that’s alright then. There is no contract yet signed for the Highway #1/Port Mann twinning or the SFPR

Blain said the financial market upheaval may affect the P3 business moving forward.

He expects a continuing active market for smaller projects, but said that may not be the case for large ones on the scale of the Port Mann where many firms and banks must join forces.

“There’s some evidence around the world those types of projects are difficult to do,” he said.

The South Fraser Perimeter Road is one project that is still early in the procurement process, with bidders not yet identified.

The situation will stabilize at some point, Blain said, and at that time banks will be attracted to infrastructure projects that can count on B.C. taxpayers as long-term stable customers.

You know, at this stage it is not the banks and their future need for stable customers that is my greatest concern. The BC Liberals have decided to tie their fate to freeway expansions and road building – even though these two schemes alone will pretty much offset any benefit that might reasonably be attributed to the carbon tax. Though that effect is in fact very small, and is far overshadowed by the effect of a period of very high gas prices, the expectation of higher gas prices in future – oh and the little blip of a major world wide recession.

Because they are still committed to P3s there is actually no money freed up by the potential cancellation of both projects. And certainly there is not enough money to proceed with the transit projects that have been needed in the region for years and which the BC Liberals regard as a much lower priority. Or rather, that could be the case, but given the way the government has already started work on both road projects the reliance on private financing may well turn out to be as mythical as the promised environmental mitigation.  And we cannot know because all of this is wrapped up in commercial confidentiality. So we will not actually know how much we are on the hook for until it is far too late to do anything about it other than pay up.

UPDATE On October 9 the Sun ran a story on its front page headed “Local large-scale projects feel shock of global credit crisis” which pointed to funding problems experienced by some of the P3 partners of the Golden Ears Bridge

Written by Stephen Rees

October 8, 2008 at 1:57 pm

Posted in Gateway, privatisation

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The Burns Bog Conservation Society’s positon on the South Fraser Perimeter Road

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This is a letter Eliza Olson wrote in response to an article in the Delta Optimist. It showcases some of the Society’s concerns and points out the misunderstanding related to any Society involvement with working with Gateway.

Since the letter is long and detailed I am doubtful if much or any of it will actually appear in that paper and I feel it is well worth reading in full

The Burns Bog Conservation Society fully supports the position of the Delta farmers regarding the South Fraser Perimeter Road. We cannot afford to lose one acre of agricultural or bogland, especially when there are alternatives. These include light rail, public transportation, short-shipping and improvements on current roads among other options.
Unfortunately, I was not able to attend but we wish to make it clear that the Society was not part of the decision-making process relating to the South Fraser Perimeter Road. The destruction of bogland either inside the Conservation area or outside of it is unacceptable to the Society for a number of reasons. These include the following.
The Society does not have the requisite engineering or commercial resources to fully assess the relative merits of any South Fraser Perimeter Road routing proposal. However, the Society’s position on the project is that any routing proposal should take into account the world heritage nature of the Bog and all proposals should first and foremost meet a “do no harm” criteria insofar as the Bog is concerned.
Ten percent (3 billion tonnes) of greenhouse gases comes from the destruction of peatlands world-wide even though only 3% of the earth’s surface is covered with peatlands. This represent half of the world’s wetlands. The United Nations Report, Dec. 7, 2008 points out that the most cost-efficient way to reduce greenhouse gasses is to immediately stop the destruction of peatlands.
A more recent report issued  July 20th of this year by 700 scientists from 29 countries at a wetland conference in Brazil points out that 771 billion tons of greenhouse gases “one-fifth of all the carbon on Earth and about the same amount of carbon as is now in the atmosphere is stored in wetlands.” (Paulo Teixeira, coordinator of the Pantanal Regional Environment Program, Brazil). All wetlands represent 6% of the earth’s surface worldwide (bogs or peatlands, swamps, marshes, river deltas, mangroves.tundra and river flood plains) and they store 20% of the earth’s carbon.
Wetlands produce 25% of the worlds’ food and filter 10% of the world’s freshwater.  About 60% of the world’s wetlands have been destroyed in the last century due to drainage.
Part of the problem according to Teixeira, is that wetlands have an image problem, people are willing to save “a rainforest but not the swamp.”
The Society has worked very hard to change this image by creating educational material for teachers and their students and re-opening the Delta Nature Reserve to the public by building boardwalks for easy access.  It was set aside for an outdoor classroom in the 1970s thanks to the work of a very dedicated group of people. The community of Delta, the Province and Canada responded by supporting the protection of half of the historical area of Burns Bog in 2004.
The destruction of the lagg will negatively impact on the Sandhill cranes as well as at least three other endangered species found in Burns Bog. These include the Green heron, the Southern Red-backed vole, the Pacific Water Shrew and the Townsends vole.
The Society finds it interesting that some of the area slated for the South Fraser Perimeter Road is the same area that a Delta resident was convicted of destroying and sent to jail for a few years ago.
International concern has been raised by peatland scientists.  Dr. Catherine O’Connell, Chief Excecutive Officer of the Irish Peatland Conservation Council sent a letter to Hon. John Baird, June 16, 2008,expressing concerns that the construction of the South Fraser Perimeter Road may place Canada, the Province of British Columbia and Delta in contravention of several international protocols. These include the Convention on Biological Diversity and the UN Convention on Climate Change.
The International Mires Conservation Group has placed Burns Bog on its list of “Areas of Concern” due to the potential destruction of Burns Bog by the South Fraser Perimeter Road. “The International Mires Conservation Group (IMCG, is a worldwide organisation of mire (peatland) specialists who have a particular interest in the conservation of peatland habitats.” (Hans Joosten, Secretary-General, Greifswald, February 7, 2007, in a letter to the EU Commissioner of Environment, Mr. Stavros Dimas. This letter was written in opposition to the proposed road through the Rospuda bog, Poland. Poland has since cancelled its plans to build the road.)
The Society has a concern that the proposed road routing almost certainly transects the Bog lagg zone and may negatively impact the lagg zone and the Bog itself via:
-potential below grade disruption of the water hydrology and thus the lifeblood of the Bog,
-potential traffic generated fugitive dust and water spray penetrating the Bog proper and potential wildlife disruption, especially that of the extremely small population of Sandhill cranes that use the Bog for nesting, rearing young and staging with other cranes of the Lower Mainland.
One Lower Mainland naturalist who has studied cranes in the Bog, believes that the destruction of “Sherwood Forest” will lead to the extinction of our cranes because it will disrupt their traditional habitat and lead to them refusing to nest again in Burns Bog.
The Burns Bog Conservation Society believes that in addition the Gateway Project has a further burden of proof that the proposed routing will be consistent with the stringent conditions for Burns Bog’s conservation as codified in the Conservation Covenant agreed to by four levels of government at the time of the acquisition of the Conservation Area ( this is about half the area of the original size of the Bog) at the expenditure of $73 million of taxpayer’s monies.
As Delta and Metro Vancouver (GVRD) are signatories to the Conservation Covenant, the Society has requested verbally and in writing that the Corporation of Delta and Metro Vancouver invoke Section 5 (Dispute Resolution) of the Conservation Covenant relating to the South Fraser Perimeter Road.
According to a letter written by a staff member of the Corporation of Delta, Delta is refusing to invoke Section 5 of the Conservation Covenant. The Society has yet to hear from Metro Vancouver.
Needless to say, the Society is disappointed with the Corporation of Delta’s inaction.
I hope this clarifies the Society’s position regarding the South Fraser Perimeter Road. The Society’s complete Position Statement can be found on its website along with other information regarding the South Fraser Perimeter Road.
These are only a few of the concerns that the Society has regarding the South Fraser Perimeter. In conclusion, the Society reconfirms its support for the position of the Delta farmers against the South Fraser Perimeter Road albeit may be for differing reasons.

Eliza Olson, B.Ed.

Burns Bog Conservation Society
4-7953 120 Street, Delta, BC V4C 6P6
Tel: 604.572.0373 Fax: 604.572.0374
TF 1.888.850.6264

Written by Stephen Rees

September 18, 2008 at 9:57 am

Posted in Environment, Gateway

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John Cummins and the SFPR

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I am indebted to Donna Passmore for the following information

On Friday last Delta-East Richmond Member of Parliament, John Cummins, was invited to an announcement Saturday morning, to be held down at Surrey-Fraser Docks regarding the South Fraser Perimeter Road. John called the heads of the groups fighting the project – but he also told the government he would would oppose any support they planned to give to the SFPR (so far all federal money has gone directly to Deltaport and the twinning of Highway #1 – they have not given the province a cent in commitment to the SFPR). Within hours the announcement was called off.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 7, 2008 at 11:31 am

Posted in Gateway, politics

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Guy Gentner goes after the SFPR

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The Province

A report commissioned by local port authorities but virtually ignored by the B.C. government for more than three years now raises serious doubts about the economic viability of building the $1-billion South Fraser Perimeter Road.

In fact, the holes it opens in the so-called rationale for this 40-kilometre, four-lane truck freeway through Delta farmland and Burns Bog are large enough to drive an 18-wheel container truck through.

Perhaps its biggest flaw is Victoria’s failure to look seriously at alternatives for moving more shipping containers to and from an expanding Deltaport at Roberts Bank.

But is that news? The report endorses the use barges to move containers – as does the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (though I am told they have been told to shut up about that). Of course it does not say that the future of the container trade is looking dim – in fact only a couple of days ago Paul Landry (of the truckers association) was quoted as saying there is expected to be rapid growth. He did not say who expects it. What also seems to have escaped attention is that River Road is lined with industrial and distribution activities – which themselves generate lots of truck trips. So the claim that River Road will be relieved of truck traffic is obvious nonsense too.

As the 112-page report by Novacorp International concluded in 2005, it is economically feasible to transfer huge numbers of containers to and from container ships at Roberts Bank by using Fraser River barges for ongoing distribution via rail or truck well outside the Greater Vancouver core.

Well, maybe – I haven’t read the report. But if they are going by rail, why not just put them on trains at Roberts Bank and save the extra handling? The agricultural land there is apparently going to be covered by new railway tracks anyway.  The barge option works if the “stripping and stuffing” of containers is remote from the port. For less than full load consignments, a lot of containers are unpacked, and then the goods reloaded with other goods from other containers into trailers – or other containers – for distribution to retailers. Not much of this goes on at the riverside right now but the Port Authority has been looking for potential sites. And the people in the Valley are none too happy about that. They think there are more attractive things you can do with a river bank, that do not generate so much truck traffic.

The EA for the SFPR was a waste of time. But the real crunch issue is the whole fallacy of the Gateway. The world has moved on from the economic arrangement that ruled at the time it was thought of. And BC seems to be building for a demand that is no longer there.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 12, 2008 at 4:01 pm

Posted in Gateway

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No tolls on controversial highway, government says

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The Vancouver Sun subs, as usual, miss the point in their choice of headline. Tolls never were on the table for the SFPR.

It will skirt the edge of environmentally sensitive Burns Bog, remove farm land from the Agricultural Land Reserve, require expropriation of residential properties in several communities in Delta and Surrey, and run over archeological sites containing the remains of aboriginal settlements.

“Skirting the edge” of the bog is not anything like as harmless as it sounds. There remain very strong reasons for avoiding this area altogether, as the bog habitat is both unique and highly fragile, and given what we know is going to be happening to this region should be under plans for expansion not limitation. There are also real fears that interfering with the drainage of the bog could hasten its drying out, increasing the risk of fire and the loss of the bog altogether.

There is no mention, you notice, of salmon habitat. But the construction of the road, and its subsequent operations, are going to impact an area of the Fraser where juvenile salmon spend a lot of time getting adjusted to the switch from fresh to salt water. Of course, global warming, over fishing, fish farms and  development adjacent to fish bearing streams have already pretty much spelled the end of the Fraser salmon runs, so maybe the province thinks it can write them off. The DFO doesn’t think so, of course, and there is still the question of federal approval – although I suspect Kevin knows that these days he is on safe political ground with his allies in Ottawa. Professionals in government departments have all been given very clear marching orders about not putting up too strong a scientific case.

The archaeological sites are another matter entirely. Our record in this regard is shameful – with an approach road to the new Golden Ears Bridge being built on a Katzie historic site of immense significance (it proves there was agriculture in the Fraser Valley three thousand years ago) long before any of the research was completed. Any artefacts there will now be covered in concrete if not completely obliterated. You would think that the local First Nations would be concerned. But they are in the treaty process – the $1bn boondoggle that has produced almost nothing. But if you are part of the process (on either side) you are doing very nicely on government largesse, and do not want to spoil the party, which can be prolonged indefinitely it seems. So the treaty process is supposed to be all the protection these sites need. Which just ups the price a bit more. Nothing effective needs to be done to protect them – just hand over some more cash.

And of course there is no mention at all of way that the government’s Gateway strategy is coming apart rapidly. The justification for this road – an increasing share of a growing trans pacific container trade – is no longer valid. The trade has been in decline for two years – and the increases in capacity at other ports, including Price Rupert, is already more than enough, given that the North West Passage is now ice free and the much bigger Panama Canal will be open by the time the SFPR is finished. Plus there was always a better route with much less impact that would have been cheaper to construct, but was never seriously considered. And that the containers for the rest of  North America leave here on trains, not trucks, and the real problem the port faces is lack of rail capacity.

Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon said the project has undergone significant scrutiny over five years, but he was confident the government had respected the concerns of its opponents.

Which only proves my contention that Kevin Falcon is a liar. The “scrutiny” was cursory at best and the concerns of opponents simply ignored.

Written by Stephen Rees

July 30, 2008 at 10:48 am

Posted in Environment, Transportation

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Delta Council Meeting

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Delta Council decided this evening to refer back to staff recommendations to extend the environmental review process and delay the port expansion by five years. There was some discussion at the beginning of the meeting which I missed. According to Ben West, a lot of people left at that point, but more trickled in later. But even so I find it hard to accept that the hall would have been filled.

The mood was depressing. The process of the SFPR was left on the agenda and when they got to that I sat down in the public section. About thirty people were distributed about these seats.

Mayor Jackson said that several years ago Delta made its preference for an upgrade of Highway #17 rather than the SFPR. That was ignored. Since that time the Council has done its best to work within the process since the province has been determined to build what it wants, and there is no discussion of other ways to achieve the project’s objectives. Delta has therefore tried its best to ensure that local concerns are addressed. While some progress has been achieved, much remains to be done yet the draft EA report is now presented in near final form with only two weeks to provide final comments. A final report will then be submitted to the Minister who has 45 days for a review. An environmental certificate is expected to be issued in June.

The comments and requests made by Delta are summarised in the report. All the information is also on the municipal web page. It is expected that the EA working group will continue to meet after the certificate has been issued. There are at least 17 different plans in various stages of development to mitigate some of the impacts of the project.

Councillor Robert Campbell described the alignemnt near Burns Bog as a tug of war between environment and agriculture – and either way it was a major loss. It could have been avoided if the recommendations of the McAlhenny Report on an upgraded HIghway #17 had been accepted. It was achievable and with minimal impact.

Mayor Jackson responded that the Province chose to ignore that report. The GVRD and the BC Truckers Association both supported the Highway #17 proposal. The staff also produced a compelling report. She felt that both documents should be “brought forward” – which presumably means included in the Delta comments on the EA .

The staff pointed out that they only had two weeks to respond. Moreover they have not “been privy to discussions between the Gateway and Environment Canada”.

Councillor Krista Engelland asked what was the role of the EAO after the certificate is issued.

The staff response was that the EAO has an obligation to see that the conditions imposed on the project are upheld, but the regulatory agencies have the lead.

Councillor George Hawksworth spoke at length about the process pointing out that it was designed to make the project work, “not to kill the project”. He emphasized: “At no time were we in a position to kill the project. For a lot of people it is not satisfactory.” Staff responded that Council took every step possible, and was supported by the GVRD in its attempt to ensure that the OCP would be respected. The province ignored it.

Mayor Jackson shared the frustration: “We have no leverage.”

Councillor Vicki Huntington said that the EA had been a frustrating porcess. “It is unprecented and unconscionable to have to chose between the bog or the farmers. For five years we have been tearing our hair out. The process has nothing to do with the legislation.” The EAO cannot look at alternatives, only the project as proposed. “The whole process is designed to mitigate, not say yea or nay. We know this is wrong.” The province’s commitment to the ALR is worthless. Both the Council and the public worked hard to develop viable alternatives that would have worked but they were never considered. Alternatives did not matter. “We did not say ‘you can’t build this project’ but we did say there was a way to do it properly that would not destroy the community. And what value is this ‘monitoring’? Does that mean that something will stop? The ‘responsible authorities’ turn out to be bureaucrats in the DFO and Transport Canada. It is unbelievable that it is not the Minister.”

Councillor Huntington is also Chair of the Heritage Advisory Commission. “95% of the built heritage is impacted by the Gateway. It will irreparably change North Delta. ”

She went on that there is public dissappointment. The public is not yet ready to give up. “We needed leadership. Sadly that has not happened. We did the best we could. I am heartbroken.”

Mayor Jackson pointed out that many times Delta had tried to speak to the ministers, “but we could not get Victoria to listen”. She also pointed out that the Holger Naas route would not have worked “the trucks don’t go there.” And the impact on farms along Ladner trunk Road would have been signifivant.

It occurred to me afterwards that Holger and Naas had taken the proponents at their word, that the trucks were headed for the border or the TransCanada. In fact, as we now know, that movement is insignificant. The trucks are simply moving containers around within the region. The long haul is on rail. In other words, the entire justification of the roads component of the Gateway is based on a lie. The Holger Naas alternative makes sense only if the Gateway was really going to increase truck travel to the the rest of North America. And with the rising price of fuel, and rail’s significant advantage in fuel economy, that is simply not going to happen.

Councillor Jeanie Kanakos said that they should request a meeting with Falcon and Emerson and make a presentation on all the outstanding issues which the EA has not resolved. While this was generally accepted as a useful idea it seemed unlikely to happen. As the Mayor said: “They don’t want to meet with us.”

Councillor Scott Hamilton said they had played into the government’s hands. They had had to fight many battles at once, but they could not turn their backs on the need to mitigate a project that was going to proceed anyway. “We can’t just fight the project. And we can’t stop them”. He also pointed out that no-one is conducting an assessment of the cumulative impact of all the Gateway projects taken together.

It seemed clear to me that the high turn out on Saturday in Tsawwassen had impressed Council. It was clearly not just about power lines (and by the way the CBC is reporting that Campbell has announced they will proceed). Building a large port on the Pacific Flyway is grossly irresponsible. Building a large port that is not likely to be needed, given the way that trans-pacific trade is going to change is short sighted. Deciding to add new port facilities in Vancouver, when there are under utilised facilities in Prince Rupert which desperately needs more work, while Vancouver continues to be over-heated, just seems like willful stupidity. This is a provincial government that seems to have abandoned any pretence of caring about what it used to like to call “the heartland”. Come to think of it, I don’t think they have used that word lately. It is also very blinkered when it comes to the environment. Climate change is very au courant, so they go for that, but salmon, sandpipers and bogs do not rate at all. The ALR is for building things on and trading to get treaties. As are regional parks. This is a government entirely devoid of principle. And since it is a one man show, just one man should get the blame.

Written by Stephen Rees

May 12, 2008 at 11:30 pm

Posted in Environment, Gateway

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Highway would cut key first nations archeological sites

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There is so much wrong with the South Fraser Perimeter Road that anywhere else this would be the issue that stopped it. In the Ontario EA process for a site search project I did – admittedly some years ago now – we decided to go for a site that was so comprehensively disturbed and so far from streams that there was no chance of archaelogical remains. Indeed one of the first EAs I worked on here at Bamberton on Vancouver Island, it was the First Nations concerns that made the proponent give up, because they realised that mitigation was simply not possible. Sacred sites are like that.

But the SFPR has impacts on existing communities, on a unique and fragile ecosystem, on farmland – but all of that is not enough to get the MoT to even consider the available alternative route, let alone the flawed case that it is needed at all. And the presence of a line in an old plan (which had not examined any of these issues) should have no effect on the appraisal. By any measure, the SFPR has failed to meet any reasonable standard of evaluation.

It amazes me that Metro Vancouver has not joined the fight. How can you talk about a future sustainable region and have the advocates of the Gateway on the platform? There is nothing about the Gateway that is even remotely connected to sustainability. And the government’s claim that it will reduce local air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions has been shown to be false. Use a flawed set of assumptions (there will be no induced traffic, there will be no change in land use)m and you get forecasts which no one with any understanding of the history of urban growth can accept. Indeed, I am certain that both Gordon Campbell and Kevin Falcon know that, but regard their indebtedness to the business community as being more important than their responsibilities to the wider community.

The most depressing aspect of all this to me is the attitude of the First Nations. But these are their concerns – and I understand that they feel that a newcomer like me has no standing in this discussion. It is not my story to tell. I just wish that they would tell their story more forcefully and publicly. The lack of comment in this Sun piece is distressing, for this was an opportunity to take and possibly make some change. The Juggernaut of the Gateway needs some obstacles thrown in its path, to slow its progress before it flattens us all. We know this government does not care about the environment, or the community. But there are some groups that have to listen to – and that is not the farmers, or the defenders of Burns Bog, or the people who live along the present chosen route. They can expect to be ignored – and have been. But the reality of the present treaty process does give the First Nations a voice. And a voice that has power.

It needs to be heard along the Fraser.


Written by Stephen Rees

April 24, 2008 at 8:12 am

A new video

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by Ryan Longoz, 2008 CMNS 482 Directed Study

Metro Vancouver has a long way to go before it can call itself a livable region. Why are we further committing ourselves to car orientation? Building roads just adds to the problem we’re trying to address, and just think of the transit service $3.9 billion could buy.

Driving, shopping, advertising, consumer culture, Hummers, sprawl, it’s all here. Our addiction to the status quo is quickly working against our needs for community, complete infrastructure, and efficient ways of getting around. What in the hell are we doing?

Thanks to everyone who lent their time and effort to help make this possible. Share this if you find it interesting, and feel free to embed.

Please comment! I appreciate your feedback.

…music by Caribou. Check them out:

Written by Stephen Rees

April 17, 2008 at 8:15 am

Mess may be in the making

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(The sub-editors at the Province are even worse than the Sun!)

Faced with the damning reports on what it will do to Burns Bog the province is having second thoughts about the South Fraser Perimeter Road. Not abandoning it as completely unnecessary, of course. Or rerouting it via the Holger Nass proposal of following the railway tracks.

The lamebrains at the MoT have now decided to reroute the SFPR over prime agricultural land. Which as far as dealing with opposition to the road is concerned is jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

[MoT is] faced with significant criticism from Environment Canada, which earlier this year said in a report that even remedial work contemplated by the B.C. government won’t protect Burns Bog, which is often described as “the lungs of the Lower Mainland” for its ability to offset climate change.

However, a B.C. Ministry of Transportation spokeswoman would only confirm yesterday that some SFPR re-alignment is under consideration. She declined to give details.

The Delta Farmers Institute is also appealing to John Cummings, the Conservative MP for Delta Richmond East, and through him to five federal cabinet ministers, including Environment Minister John Baird and International Trade/Gateway Minister David Emerson.

The Gateway program depends on demand for cross Pacific trade to grow. It is currently declining. It depends on Vancouver taking a greater share of US destined traffic. US demand is falling, the US dollar is falling, and new routes through the North West Passage and an enlarged Panama Canal are opening up. Prince Rupert offers both a shorter sail from the Asian rim ports and a more direct route to the midwest over an easier pass. The port expansion threatens a unique habitat and migratory bird feeding ground. The SFPR threatens Burns Bog and communities in North Delta and North Surrey. The Port Mann twinning and the Highway #1 expansion is based on a fictional demand forecast that bears no relation to North American urban experience with freeway widening, and has been criticised by Health Canada and Environment Canada. Global climate change is accelerating, and our fossil fuel consumption continues to rise, threatening the very area that the road and the port would occupy with a rising sea level.

I think they have enough problems without taking on the farmers too. Any sane administration by now would have admitted its assumptions have been shown to be wrong, and backed away from the project.

“When circumstances change, I change my mind. What do you do?”

Burns Bog

Photo by Squeaky Marmot

Written by Stephen Rees

April 15, 2008 at 8:59 am

SFPR Stuck in Burns Bog

I am pleased to pass along to you the latest video from Damien Gillis. The text below the video is from an email from him. To those who think that this project is a good idea I have disabled comments to this post, as I have no wish to give you a platform. If a new road is needed (and I doubt that too) there is an alternate route which the government, typically, has simply ignored even though it would be faster, cheaper and have none of the impacts of the SFPR.

A recent visit by Federal Opposition Leader Stephane Dion to Delta, BC’s ecological treasure Burns Bog was an opportunity to discuss the threats to the Bog and the community of Delta by the BC government’s proposed South Fraser Perimeter Road truck highway. Mr. Dion learned from experts that the Bog is the “lungs of the lower mainland,” the largest urban carbon sink in the North America, and vital to the survival of the world’s largest salmon run in the interconnected Fraser River. He also learned that, according to Environment Canada and the regional Burns Bog Scientific Advisory Panel’s under-publicized reports, the SFPR would essentially destroy Burns Bog. It would also increase mortality rates along the route–with seven Delta schools within a kilometer of the highway–force hundreds of North Deltans from their homes (many heritage), and steamroll over hundreds of acres of farmland. Mr. Dion also learned of an alternate route to the SFPR, known as the Hoover/Naas proposal, that carries none of the above detrimental impacts because it follows an existing rail right-of-way removed from homes, schools and the Bog. This railway is already entirely owned by the the province. The video also provides a summary of some shocking statements uncovered amongst the government’s environmental assessment application documents, such as this one, which suggests there could be an economic upside to people getting sick from increased air pollution:

“With increased air pollution there can possibly be increased employment (e.g., in the health sector) because of the economic activity associated with correcting the results of its impacts.” (Government documents for SFPR: Technical Volume 16, pg. 39, 4.3.5 Employment)

Written by Stephen Rees

March 21, 2008 at 8:10 am

Posted in Environment, Gateway

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