Due diligence done on bridge

Editor:

Re: Due process missing as gov't forges ahead with its bridge, Community Comment, Jan. 13

The author suggests the public is missing a lot of information required to make an informed decision. That couldn't be further from the truth.

From the outset, the provincial government committed to being as open and accountable on the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project as possible. To date, over 8,000 pages of documents have been posted to the project website, detailing every piece of "due process" we have undertaken. This includes the business case for the project.

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Since the very beginning, we clearly communicated our intent, we have done the research and we have articulated our findings. Information has been posted with each step along the way.

And the steps we've taken have been thorough and methodical, including public and stakeholder consultation. We asked the public about the need, and were told the need was great. We surveyed British Columbians about the options and were told a bridge was preferred.

Three rounds of indepth public consultation; hundreds of meetings with stakeholders, including the City of Richmond, Corporation of Delta, Metro Vancouver and others.

As well, we have taken our project to the Environmental Assessment Office, and are waiting on its decision. We've applied to the Agricultural Land Commission for approval to remove small tracts of farmland adjacent to Highway 99 for use on the project, with a commitment that there will be no net loss of farmland as a result.

The assertion that this bridge is being built so the port can dredge the river is a complete fallacy, one of the many myths perpetuated by critics of the project. The province will not dredge the river as part of the project. Nor will replacing the tunnel with a bridge increase the size of ships that can traverse the river, as the new bridge will be about the same height as the Alex Fraser Bridge.

I respect the fact that not all British Columbians want to see the George Massey Tunnel replaced. It has been part of the fabric of the Lower Mainland for 60 years. But we can agree that Highway 99 is vitally important to the movement of goods and people through the Lower Mainland and Canada's Asia-Pacific Gateway. With the age and seismic vulnerability of the tunnel, we're taking the responsible action, and improving movement on the corridor.

When completed, the bottleneck the Canadian Automobile Association ranks as one of the worst in Canada will be improved. So will safety for motorists, and our dedicated first responders will have quick, safer access.

Transit reliability will be improved, with over $500 million in transit infrastructure included in the project. And the environment will benefit, with less idling, and improvements to Deas Slough and Deas Island.

We are moving forward on the project to replace the George Massey Tunnel, and are doing so in confidence that all due diligence has been taken.

Todd Stone
Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure

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