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Bridge open house in Ladner draws 100-plus

Attendees at session this week generally supportive of plan for 10-lane crossing
open house
An open house at the Delta Town & Country Inn Wednesday included three models of the proposed bridge.

The first of three public open houses for the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project drew 139 people to the Delta Town & Country Inn Wednesday.

The province recently submitted an application to the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) for an environmental certificate for a 10-lane, 3.3-kilometre bridge across the Fraser River. An application review period of up to 180 days is now underway, which includes a 60-day public comment period from Aug. 3 to Oct. 3.

At the open house the public had the opportunity to review a number of information boards for each of the components that have been studied and to take a look at three models.

“It’s a pretty good turnout. People are asking a lot of questions and getting engaged in the process,” said Pam Ryan, director of planning for the project. “What we are seeing is similar to previous consultations, which is lots of support for the project, lots of questions about the specifics, what is going to change, how will I be affected as a resident or as a business owner.

“We certainly have some folks here today who are here with some concerns and they are not in favour, but overall, it pretty much is what we have seen so far, which is generally supportive.”

Project assessment manager Michael Shepard said they want to be fully engaged with the public and encouraged those who can’t make it out to an open house to submit their comments in writing.

“We read through every comment on the website and take each comment very seriously. Everyone has a different perspective,” he said. “It’s a very detailed and technical process, but it should be for a project of this nature. We have to make sure we do our due diligence and leave no stone unturned.”

One Ladner resident told the Optimist he is in favour of the project as long as the toll isn’t off the charts.

“I’m old enough to remember the tolling on the Deas Tunnel, the Lions Gate Bridge and we all survived,” he said. “The good thing about this is you won’t have people idling in vehicles for hours on end. Access will be improved, and the noise will be less because it will be elevated, so it’s all plusses.”

MLA Vicki Huntington was also on hand, saying it is vitally important the public is involved.

“I see my job now, given the decision to proceed with a bridge appears to be made by the province, is to make sure what they promised Delta we get, that the impacts of construction are minimal, that it services the people of Delta properly and well and that the community is better in the long run for it rather than without it.”

The next open house is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 13 at the Sandman Signature Hotel in Richmond with a third open house on Wednesday, Sept. 14 at the Delta Town & Country Inn. All sessions run from 2 to 8 p.m.

Construction of the $3.5-billion bridge is to begin next year and be complete by 2022.