The business community supports the George Massey Tunnel replacement bridge and must come to the table to let government know the project should go ahead, says Mayor Lois Jackson.
Making a presentation to the converted at the Surrey Board of Trade Thursday, Jackson was a guest speaker at the 2017 Surrey Environment and Business Awards, going over many of the positives of the controversial project which has been stalled by the NDP government pending an independent technical review.
“The impacts are not just felt in Delta, but in Surrey, White Rock, Langley, even out in the valley. The replacement of the tunnel with a new bridge will relieve on of the worst traffic highway bottlenecks in Canada and save businesses and commuters millions of dollars lost as a result of congestion, accidents and travel delays,” she said.
Jackson’s enthusiastic presentation went over many of the same points her municipality has been making as it delivers its message where it can for the project, which has an uncertain future after the Liberal government lost power.
Noting the tunnel already sees 90,000 vehicles per day, Jackson said over the next 30 years the region’s truck traffic is forecast to grow by 170 per cent and transit traffic, which the tunnel has the second most among all the crossings, will increase by 125 per cent. Despite these numbers, the region’s mayors have been voicing opposition, she said. However, the business community as well as the majority of Metro residents, as shown in a recent Angus Reid survey, support a new bridge, Jackson noted.
Noting six different options and their potential impacts were examined, she also went over the environmental case. As far as the cost perspective it delivers the best value.
Jackson also noted Delta welcomes the review.
She wrapped up her presentation by showing the brief video Delta had put together in the campaign to keep the bridge project alive.
Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, said her organization supports the tunnel replacement and issued a position paper stating as such, as well as support for mobility pricing.
In an interview with the Optimist Thursday, Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said that during the election campaign people were frustrated her party was not saying either way what would happen to the project if they were elected.
“I think it is very reasonable to leave it until we had formed government. We have talked to mayors who were very concerned that their vision for the Lower Mainland was not being recognized. As minister I think this is a responsible way to be acting when you are talking what will be, no matter what we do, whether it is a bridge, whether it is twinning the tunnel or tunnel and bridge combination, who knows what will come of this, but we are responsible with public money. We want to get this right,” she said.
*Jackson will be making a presentation and answering questions on the bridge project at the #TalkDelta Public Open House on Wednesday, Sept. 20 at the North Delta Recreation Centre at 7 p.m.