By Kimi Hendess from Farmwatch BC
The Fraser River needs your help. LNG, Coal, Jet Fuel… numerous proposed industrial projects in this sensitive estuary hinge on tankers gaining access up-river of the George Massey Tunnel, over which only shallow or partially loaded ships can pass. Access to Information requests have revealed that Port Metro Vancouver and Surrey Fraser Docks have lobbied the provincial and federal governments to build a bridge and remove the tunnel, and intend to dredge the river far deeper.
The tunnel is the gatekeeper of the Fraser and all of its inhabitants, and so the Provincial government has devised a plan to remove it. Millions were spent on seismic upgrades & shake-alarm on the Massey tunnel in 2007-09, but now they’re selling us a 10-lane mega bridge for a whopping $3.5 Billion (so far), and telling us it is necessary to ease traffic congestion. It will shift congestion a few kilometers northbound.
Until February 15th, the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) is receiving comments for the pre-Application period of the “George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project”. As outlined on the EAO website, the assessment “examines major projects for potentially adverse environmental, economic, social, heritage and health effects that may occur during the life cycle of [the project]”. These adverse effects are many. They are far-reaching. Some are province-wide, and some are global in scale. And for the most part, they are irreversible.
The Fraser River is the largest overwintering area for waterfowl in Canada, supports the world’s largest salmon run, and is designated as a Canadian Heritage River and a “Wetland of International Importance” (Ramsar.org). Delta and Richmond farmers depend on the river for irrigation, and farm on lands that are coveted by Port Metro Vancouver for expansion of port facilities. With industrialization, people living in communities along the river would face extreme hazards in case of spilled oil, gas or LNG, and health impacts due to coal dust.
Luckily, this project is not a “done deal”. A group of residents and organizations from Richmond, Delta, Vancouver, and throughout the region have begun organizing to stop the proposed Bridge and the industrialization of the Lower Fraser River that the bridge is designed to enable. They organized a Rally and leafleted outside the Project’s Open Houses on January 26 & 27 to protest the bridge and highlight its negative impacts on growth patterns, agriculture, fishery, wildlife, climate change, and public spending, among myriad other concerns.
The group (soon to be named) is demanding disclosure of the rationale and business case for the bridge, study of alternative options, and review of many studies & previous policies which do not favour a bridge, including the Regional Growth Strategy. It is demanding meaningful consultation with municipal governments and the public, and real action to achieve Canada’s global climate commitments.
Please tell the EAO what you think should be studied and assessed in this project. Go to Masseytunnel.Realhearings.org for more info, and to submit your comments and ensure they are cc’d to relevant politicians.
Kimi Hendess from FarmWatch
FarmWatch BC is a grassroots group of farmers and residents in Richmond BC who are concerned about the degradation of farmland and farm ecosystems. We want to protect the ALR and end all dumping on farmland.