Some time ago former premier Christy Clark announced to the press the provincial government had decided to replace the George Massey Tunnel with an eight- to 10-lane bridge. This followed a period where five options were out in public view for comment and analysis.
As the news was a surprise to all, and being an Optimist columnist at that time, I filed a freedom of information request with the premier’s office as to what documents she had relied upon in reaching this decision. The answer came back: “No documents were found.”
Next, I asked the senior project managers. Assembled together in their Richmond office, they told me: “Ian, it was high level” and “no notes were taken.” So, I was left to conclude a multi-billion dollar project was conceived, planned and estimated without reference to any papers.
Since then thousands of pages of documents have been filed on the website. However, it took the new government to discover a very complete report for, and notes of, a meeting with the European experts who helped design the original tunnel and who have built many tunnels and bridges around the world.
That meeting took place soon after the premier’s announcement, and it appears the government did not seriously consider them or other options before rushing in with a bridge - modelled after what is already up the river.
So now our mayor is in Ottawa promoting the bridge. On what basis? It was not the logical choice at the beginning (no serious consideration of alternatives) and it might be an expensive boondoggle. Who knows when experts for the other choices have not been consulted?
(formerly an Optimist columnist for 10 years, a professional engineer, and now living in Victoria)