The Massey Bridge: A boondoggle bought by big money?

Why did the BC Liberals prioritize a project that could harm local communities, the Fraser River and farmland?

On the 601 bus to my hometown of Tsawwassen, I watch as bulldozers uproot the evergreens adjacent to the farmland along Highway 99, making way for a costly ten lane bridge built in the interests of industry. I imagine dredgers forcing themselves on the river bed, scraping at the sediment and defiling the critical salmon habitat.

The colossal pet project of the BC Liberal party — the controversial $3.5 billion Massey Bridge forced upon unwilling municipalities — is just another reason why we need a corruption inquiry in B.C.

Why was this $3.5 billion project, which impacts the health of my family and my neighbours while bulldozing food producing farmland, so important to the BC Liberals? Massive donations from proponents and prospective contractors to their party could hold the answer.

While our new NDP government suggests we defer to the mayors of affected communities on the fate of this bridge — which would yield a resounding no — construction on the Massey tunnel replacement project has already begun. For residents of Delta and Richmond, it is an unwelcome hangover from the BC Liberal reign.

Experts question the usefulness and safety of this project. How is it meant to relieve congestion when it includes minimal plans for public transitI shudder at the fact the municipalities and citizens affected asked for a comprehensive environmental review under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA), but the Trudeau government denied the request. Apparently residents south of the Fraser don’t deserve to know about the impacts a massive bridge would have on their health and safety.

And while those who make their home in Delta, like my family, face unknown risks from increased coal barges and LNG tankers, many companies will benefit from the removal of the Massey Tunnel.

Making room for tankers on the Fraser River

Unlike the tunnel, a new bridge would make room to dredge the Fraser River, allowing for larger ships to reach ports upriver and spur on further development for private gain.

Fraser Surrey Docks, the company still hoping to build a thermal coal export terminal on the Fraser River, would certainly benefit from a bridge. Maybe that is why they gave $14,575 to the provincial Liberal party while they were in control of the decision. They also lobbied the feds to have the tunnel removed so they can move full ocean-going vessels of coal down the river, past residential neighbourhoods, over fish habitat, and out to sea.

Another company with a massive stake in this bridge is Fraser River Pile and Dredge, who donated $24,876 to the BC Liberals. When the river needs to be dredged for the construction of the bridge after the tunnel is removed, this is the company for the job. They are the largest dredging company in the country and are already contracted by the Port of Vancouver to routinely clear out the Fraser.

FortisBC is looking to expand their fracked gas operations at the Tilbury LNG facility and bring more tankers up the Fraser. The removal of the tunnel would allow for larger, fuller supertankers to reach their facilities. They donated $186,024 to the BC Liberals and will spend $400 million on their expansion project in Delta.

Bridge bidders are also big donors 

In October 2016, the shortlist for contractors to design and build the Massey Bridge was released, revealing Gateway Mobility Solutions, Lower Mainland Connectors and Pacific Skyway Partners as the lucky bidders:

One of the equity partners of Gateway Mobility Solutions, Aecon Group (Canada’s largest publicly traded construction company), donated $32,500 to the BC Liberals. Flatiron Constructors, one of the design-build contractors, also donated $12,800. In total, the Gateway Mobility Solutions partnership has donated $45,300 to the BC Liberals since 2009.

Together, the Lower Mainland Connectors group donated $200,895 to the BC Liberals. $111,675 of this came from Kiewit Contractors, which is headquartered in Nebraska and is one of the largest private contractors in the world. BA Blacktop, one of the design-build contractors for this team of bidders, also donated $72,170.

It should be noted that this contractor group also includes the Macquarie Group, the Australian company that owns Fraser Surrey Docks. Macquarie donated $17,050 to the Liberals to try to secure all of their interests.

The final contender for the contracts, Pacific Skyway Partners, includes SNC-Lavalin, a company that has been banned from applying for World Bank contracts and involved in corruption scandals in Quebec. They also conducted the ludicrous environmental study of the Fraser Surrey Docks coal transshipment project deemed entirely inadequate by health care providers and municipalities. This occurred after SNC-Lavalin bought a 23 per cent share in AltaLink, an electricity transmission company from Macquarie Essential Assets Partnership — a member of the Macquarie Group, again owners of Fraser Surrey Docks.

SNC-Lavalin has donated $27,647 to the BC Liberals. Their former board chairman, Gwyn Morgan, has personally donated more than $245,500. His wife, Patricia Trottier, donated $15,000 to the party. Morgan is also the founder of the oil and gas company EnCana, a company that has donated $1,243,751 to the BC Liberals. Further, Morgan was a key advisor and confidant of Christy Clark.

Big bridge, Big Money

All this begs an important question: Is the new Massey bridge really in the interest of commuters, or industry insiders with massive pocket books and a cheque with the BC Liberals’ name on it?

For too long, it has looked like Big Money has bought political favours in this province. We need to know for certain if decisions, like building the Massey Bridge, were made under the influence of political donations. If approvals were granted to favour donors at the detriment of British Columbians’ health and safety, they need to be sent back to the drawing board and reassessed.

There is a way to develop a good transit plan without jeopardizing the safety of local communities, the health of the Fraser River and the animals that rely on it, all while protecting local farmland. No one denies the need for a new crossing of the Fraser, but there are certainly alternatives to a $3.5 billion dollar bridge wrapped in a bow for industry that taxpayers will be forced to pay for. Even certain Longshoremen have suggested that there are other options to ease congestion without removing the tunnel.

Big Money has secured its interests over those of British Columbians for long enough. Our government not only needs to act on their promise to ban Big Money fast — they need to begin a corruption inquiry to dredge up the facts and stop these harmful projects before it’s too late.


12 Responses to “The Massey Bridge: A boondoggle bought by big money?”

  1. Evil Eye says:

    Also note: The BN&SF have a direct link to Fraser Surrey Docks and would not have to pay axle fees to BC Rail for access to the Roberts Bank Super Port. This would lower the cost of shipping Montana Coal and Braken Oil, which American Ports will not do so.

    As well SNC Lavalin also hold the Engineering patents to the ART rapid transit (Millennium and Evergreen lines and also leads the consortium that runs the Canada line.

    Gwyn Morgan, former CEO of SNC Lavalin, was former premier Christi Clark’s top advisors.

    As there is only 4 lanes going from Richmond to Vancouver via Hwy 99 and Knight St. the extra traffic will start grid-locking at Steveston Hwy, with the extra traffic using the bridge.

  2. Wayne McQueen says:

    The new government needs to immediately put a stop-work-order on ALL projects presently underway, that have been approved by the BC Liberals, because we presently cannot determine whether they have been approved for political reasons.

  3. Architect Angel (lito) Joseph Mallonga FUAP says:

    Its all being said. Now that Christy Clark has resigned we can breath & have peace of mine.
    A Tunnel with at least 6 to 8 lanes will be build besides the existing Massey tunnel.

    The late Hon. Phil Gaglardi explained to that the Massey Tunnel can last more then 100 Years.
    It is a flouting tunnel and when ever who will build another besides it, just use the same way
    I am sure it is still available. Lets protect the Fraser River from more harm to our Wild Salmon
    and to other fishes specially Sturgeons. I already brought to the attention of Councilor Carol Day
    of the City of Richmond as well to some of the MP’s and MLA here in B.C.
    Both the B.C. Green Party which I am also a member and Finance & Deputy Premier
    Carol James of the NDP.

  4. A 10 lane bridge is going create a bottleneck on Oak St and do little to help commuters. Run a train along side the freeway from South Surrey and connect at existing Bridgeport Station. Now that would make commuting easy.

  5. Alina says:

    A cheaper solution would be to (1) adequately fund Translink so they can buy a fleet of electric buses and (2) convert the curb lanes on Oak Street, Broadway and Cambie into bus-only lanes. Having many buses that commute to and from the suburbs along this route will significantly reduce congestion at a fraction of the cost of a new bridge or another SkyTrain line.

  6. Evelyn Wedley, Delta Resident says:

    A very well written article.

    And why, I might add, do the Mayor and Council of Delta support this, so much so that they are spending thousands of Delta taxpayer dollars to convince people it is good for Delta?????? I fail to understand how it is good for us? I totally support the fact that we need better transit but why not expansion of the Skytrain line or some form of light rail?

    A 10-lane bridge to encourage more cars and trucks, more pollution to poison our air and ruin some prime land, not to mention habitat?

    Our council seems to be determined to destroy much of Delta, from supporting the bridge, supporting building an industrial park on a piece of Burns Bog, potentially supporting heavy industrial development on another edge of the bog, supporting expansion of the Fraser Surrey Docks to bring in unwanted coal trains and expansion of the LNG plant.

  7. Daniel Grant says:

    What are the most effective plans that will ease traffic? The best one I have heard that has worked worldwide is, charging the commuter highest fees during rush hour & no fees at the lowest traffic periods. It has been proven to reduce traffic substantially, while reducing stress & increasing productivity in the workplace. Therefore, minimize costs by adding 2 to 6 more lanes to the Massey Tunnel, improve commuter transport & subsequent feeders into the city… & KNOW oil requirements are shrinking now, so why cave to it.

  8. STEVE B. says:

    money $ money $ money $……….controls our politicians as well as those around them responsible for such projects.
    christy clark, stephen harper, justin trudeau, etc etc are all ruled by their uncontrollable lust for money and power and so will all that follow in their political steps.
    bc is no different sadly, money has corrupted our politics and controls every level of government / city / municipal / members and will until we british columbians demand accountability and make it law within our electoral system.
    clark entered govt corrupt and lying her ass off and she leaves a lying smiling corrupt ex-premier with a trail of scams, backroom deals and endless lies in her wake along with a golden pension which we will pay for.

    the whole system is 100 percent corrupt and horseshit and needs to be, must be, completely overhauled and exposed immediately or it will just continue the endless lying and power/money lusting the system thrives and survives off of…………

    expose and investigate christy clark and the bc liberals ***NOW !!!***………PERIOD.

  9. Tom Collier says:

    I was speaking to Harold Steves last year, a Richmond councillor and former Minister of the Environment. Harold explained that that back in the 50’sa bridge was consider however that a bridge could never withstand the liquefaction of an earthquake. It is two thousand feet to bedrock, so engineers felt a tunnel might resist liquefaction better.

  10. Tom P says:

    Harold Steves and Doug Massey seem to know and probably are not getting huge gifts and bags of money from some company. Can any of the “we need a bridge” people claim that?
    The ten lane thing is silly, if there is a toll then one lane each way (or the existing tunnel) would be ample, look at the Golden Ears and Port Mann bridges vs Alex Fraser and Patullo.

  11. ROLAND says:

    The most urgent action required right away is, to stop all lately permitted projects in their tracks, re-assess everything and use common sense to rethink before redo! A tunnel is definitely the best option, especially since it would prevent future dredging to please big money interests. We humans need to realize, that by and large the records points to boondoggles and regrets in the future. We have to keep the interests of future generations in mind, so that they all can enjoy a beautiful life! I have studied the machinations of the American Military Industrial Complex, which are out of control (and have been since before the Eisenhower era, who actually warned America about it). The weather, for instance, has been manipulated for over 25 years already and is being used as a weapon, see Texas right now! To sum up – let us trim big money severely, just like trees.

  12. plg says:

    Remove trucks from the tunnel during morning and afternoon rush period. It’s done in many major cities in North America already. Even if trucks were forbidden to go through the tunnel for 4-6 hours a day they still have 18-24 hours a day to move freight. Adapt! In fact, 18 wheelers are forbidden to be on major urban highways during these rush periods in many US cities.

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