The George Massey Tunnel is considered B.C.’s worst traffic congestion point. (Black Press Media file photo)

Mayors, First Nations chiefs, urge ‘immediate action’ on new Massey crossing

Joint letter asks province to move up timeline, consider only eight-lane tunnel options

Several Metro Vancouver mayors and two First Nations chiefs have sent a joint letter to Premier John Horgan asking for “immediate action” to solve congestion around the George Massey Tunnel.

The letter sets out a number of criteria for the project, including completing construction by 2025-2026, four to five years sooner than the project’s current timeline.

“With the timelines currently being contemplated by the province, construction on a new crossing may not be completed before 2030 — a delay that greatly impacts the lives of tens of thousands of residents who make use of the tunnel each day, and the overall liveability of our region,” the letter reads.

READ MORE: ‘It’s falling apart’: Delta council stresses need for new Massey crossing

SEE ALSO: Province ‘moving quickly’ on safety upgrades to Massey Tunnel: North Delta MLA

The letter came about as a result of a meeting of municipal leaders organized by Delta Mayor George Harvie on Feb. 21 and was co-signed by Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie, Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker, Musqueam Indian Band Chief Wayne Sparrow and then-Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Bryce Williams.

The mayors and chiefs were able to come to a consensus on several points. They agreed that only tunnel options should be considered, including a cost-effective deep bored tunnel “if possible,” and that those options should have six lanes for regular and commercial traffic and two lanes for transit with the potential to convert them to rail in the future, plus dedicated facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.

(Scroll to the end of the story to read the full letter.)

The group also suggested the scope of the project should be expanded to include improvements along the entire Highway 99 corridor, specifically mentioning existing congestion at interchanges in South Surrey, and that it should address Richmond and Vancouver’s concerns regarding the potential to worsen congestion at the Oak Street Bridge and along the Oak Street corridor.

RELATED: Council wants Massey crossing project to include South Surrey interchanges

Other considerations the mayors and chiefs want the project to address include First Nation concerns regarding in-river works and fisheries impacts, Richmond and Delta’s concerns regarding local impacts at interchanges or access points, minimizing impacts on agricultural land and not creating additional potentially costly, lengthy or prohibitive environmental challenges or reviews.

The signatories also say whatever solution the province lands on must serve the needs of the region to at least 2100 and should be consistent with Metro Vancouver’s regional growth strategy and TransLink’s regional transportation strategy, the latter of which is currently being updated.

Delta Mayor George Harvie (centre-left) met with other mayors and First Nation chiefs on Feb. 21, 2019, to “achieve consensus and present a united voice to the provincial government about the need to take immediate action to solve traffic congestion at the George Massey Tunnel,” according to City of Delta press release. From left to right: Chief Wayne Sparrow (Musqueam Indian Band), former Chief Bryce Williams (Tsawwassen First Nation), Mayor George Harvie (Delta), Mayor Doug McCallum (Surrey), Mayor Malcolm Brodie (Richmond) and Mayor Darryl Walker (White Rock). (City of Delta photo)

“I am gratified that my colleagues across the region also view this as a very important issue,” Harvie said in a press release. “I hope we will be able to convince the province of the urgency of taking immediate action to resolve this terrible bottleneck.”

Harvie, Brodie, McCallum, Stewart and Walker were recently appointed to Metro Vancouver’s new George Massey Crossing Task Force, which will be responsible for reviewing project-related materials and providing feedback to provincial representatives, and considering project-related impacts to Metro Vancouver assets, plans, and infrastructure.

READ MORE: Delta mayor named to Metro Vancouver’s Massey Crossing task force

The task force — which also includes mayors Jack Froese (Langley Township), Val van den Broek (Langley City), and Jonathan Coté (New Westminster, representing the TransLink Mayor’s Council on Regional Transportation) as well as Chief Ken Baird of the Tsawwassen First Nation and Metro Vancouver board chair Sav Dhaliwal (Burnaby) — will also provide the Metro Vancouver board with advice and recommendations about the project via the organization’s finance and intergovernment committee.

On Friday, April 26, the board is set to vote on supporting the project principles and goals developed by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. Those goals are, broadly, to support the sustainability of Fraser River communities, facilitate an increased share of sustainable modes of transport, enhance regional goods movement and commerce, and support a healthy environment.

(Scroll to the end of the story for the full list of principles and goals.)

The principles and goals mark the first of three phases of engagement between the province and Metro Vancouver, TransLink, area municipalities and local First Nations, according to a report by Metro Vancouver staff. Phase two involves working with stakeholders to identify crossing options and choose one that best meets those goals. Phase two is expected to be completed by the end of November, 2019.

After that, the province will conduct a detailed assessment of the preferred option and finalize a business case for the project, expected by November 2020.

READ MORE: Replacement bridge unlikely for George Massey Tunnel, report says

SEE ALSO: George Massey Tunnel replacement could have been cheaper than expected



editor@northdeltareporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Investigators comb through Chilliwack house following standoff

RCMP say investigation involves report of an early morning shooting

Chilliwack dad rescues his two young daughters after truck plunges into Cultus Lake

“I used every single one of my angels that day,” said Dennis Saulnier

No need to get out of your car at food truck festival in Abbotsford and Langley

Annual event takes drive-thru approach during COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 business listing: Hope and area

Find out which stores are open and how to support those who are feeling the effects of the pandemic

PHOTOS: Playtime is back!

Paula Morrison of Angel Daycare Centre captured a moment of absolute joy

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

Stray dog with duct tape around muzzle spotted in Abbotsford

Pooch has been spotted over two days, but has escaped capture so far

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

White Rock council considers allowing alcohol in waterfront park

Council mulls business-boosting measures, including picnic benches

Langley woman recalls last words spoken to mother who died of COVID-19 on 88th birthday

Verna Clarke was more than a senior with dementia who died of COVID at Langley Lodge, she was ‘loved’

Federal aid for care home systems needed ahead of second wave, advocates say

Ontario Long Term Care Association calling for more action

Most Read