It’s disappointing Delta South’s first-term MLA is the one playing politics rather than working in collaboration for a solution when it comes to the George Massey Tunnel.
Premier John Horgan had that to say about the Liberal’s Ian Paton on Thursday in response to a charge levelled by Paton and Richmond-Queensborough MLA Jas Johal that politics played a big part in the termination of the bridge project which would have been well underway by now.
Earlier in the day to mark the 60th anniversary of the opening of the tunnel, Paton and Johal took part in a media event in Ladner, saying motorists will likely have to suffer needlessly through the worst bottleneck in the province until at least 2030, thanks to the New Democrat government killing the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project.
They said politics was to blame as the NDP have directed investments to their own ridings.
“That’s absolutely not true. We’re building a hospital in Richmond which is not an NDP constituency. We’re building a hospital in Terrace which is not an NDP constituency. We’re building a hospital in Dawson Creek which is not an NDP constituency. I could go on, but you get my point,” said Horgan.
“To Mr. Paton, I’m disappointed. As a new member who is respected in the community, I would expect him to be less partisan and more focused on solutions. Mr. Johal has made a business out of making stuff up and he continues down that course. I’ve got nothing but contempt for his approach to politics. I think Ian understands we need to work together to solve the problems, not just here with respect to congestion at Massey, but a whole range of other issues. We’re not about politics at all, we’re about solutions for people and that’s been our focus from the beginning” the premier added.
Horgan said he’s unapologetic as the opposition seeks to make headlines.
Premier John Horgan this week said the treasury board will examine the cost of a twin tunnel project and the province will ask the feds for funding
As far Paton’s and Johal’s claim a solution won’t be available until 2030 because of the NDP’s stalling and redundant studying, Horgan countered, “The Liberals just want to do politics all the time. The reason they were unsuccessful in the last election is because it was always about politics. They never talked about the issues that mattered to people, and that’s what we’ve been doing since we were elected. The notion that they dictated what was the best solution for congestion at Massey without doing any consultation led to the problem we had in the first place.”
Ian Paton says the bridge project by the B.C. Liberals could have come in at a full $900 million below project estimates, which calls into question John Horgan’s comment that twinning the existing tunnel would cost significantly less than a bridge
Horgan also said he gives credit to Delta Mayor George Harvie and the region’s mayors for getting together for a solution and working with the other levels of government.
“We want to move as quickly as we can and the leadership we have seen from the Mayors’ Council allows us to do that,” said Horgan.
The premier earlier Thursday hinted a twin-tunnel proposal will get serious consideration from his government.
He also said his government views the consensus among the mayors as an opportunity to move quickly on a replacement, although he didn’t say whether the timeline to have a business case completed will be done any sooner than the transportation ministry’s original late 2020 timeline.
Jas Johal says the 60-year-old tunnel is seismically unsafe and needs to be replaced with a safer and more efficient alternative
In response, Paton said Horgan is misrepresenting the wishes of local mayors.
“The mayors were very clear: any replacement cannot touch the Fraser River, otherwise a lengthy Federal Environmental Assessment would be triggered. That’s why they wanted to explore the option of a deep bore tunnel under the river bed— not a twinning of the existing tunnel as John Horgan is suggesting,” Paton said in a statement.
Johal said he suspects the premier’s comments are another stall tactic.
“Despite years of reviews and consultation, the NDP has done nothing but dither and delay on the Massey project,” said Johal. “Lower Mainland residents are tired of idling in gridlock, burning ever-more-expensive gasoline. John Horgan needs to act quickly to resolve this long-overdue issue.”
They also said they wonder why the government would bother consulting on the project any further if the premier has made up his mind.
Harvie told the Optimist he will seek information and clarification, saying he’s hoping the government’s mind isn’t already made up.