DELTA (NEWS 1130) – Despite saying the George Massey Tunnel replacement is a top priority, the B.C. NDP did not include any big plans for the crossing in its latest budget.
Budget 2021 includes $7.6 billion in transportation investments over the next three years — that includes the Massey replacement. However, there’s little other mention of the project, other than the province is still in the process of “obtaining a final decision on the scope, budget, delivery and schedule” for the project.
“As soon as we have a decision about the crossing – the funding has been set aside – we’ll be able to know exactly what it’s going to cost and we’ll have specific details once the decision is made and I’m hoping that will happen soon,” Selina Robinson, B.C. Minister of Finance says. “The business case was submitted this fall – the work is moving as quickly as it can.”
Robinson wouldn’t say when that business case would be finished.
The lack of certainty is not sitting well with some leaders.
“Overall, with regards to the focus they have with regards to the pandemic and recovery, I’m very supportive. On the other side, I’m very disappointed not to see any commitment to the replacement of the George Massey Tunnel,” Delta Mayor George Harvie admitted.
Harvie says the province has the full report.
The mayor has a meeting coming up with Minister of Transportation Rob Fleming, during which he hopes more clarity on the future of the Massey will be provided.
“But we need to move on this now. The useful time remaining on that tunnel is quickly approaching, and when you look at the timeline for construction, environmental assessments, you’re probably looking at 10 years,” he said.
“I get very nervous about that 10 year timeline as we continue to progress without doing anything,” Harvie told NEWS 1130.
Aside from a briefing with other mayors about the business case, he says there’s been no other details provided. He says he’s not received a copy of the review.
“I was expecting to get it months ago,” Harvie said. “It’s like somebody’s hit the pause button on this and as a collective group of mayors, and myself, and our Member of Parliament Carla Qualtrough, we need to get going on this and ensure the province has a timeline and a business plan for the replacement for it.”
Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie notes there are a number of positives in the budget. However, when it comes to the lack of mention of the Massey Tunnel replacement, he’s not surprised.
“Mention was made of the replacement for the Massey Tunnel, at least that indicates that it’s top of mind for the governing party,” he said Wednesday. “We’re disappointed — we’ve been disappointed — that no announcements have been made to choose the tunnel option over a bridge, and to go forward with it. But you take these things in steps and we’ll continue to speak to the government about that entire project.”
Brodie says he’s received word that the project is still under review, and that it remains “top of mind.”
“I can’t say that I expected to see it in the budget when that choice has not been made and there could be some critical differences there,” he said.
However, he’s optimistic that things are moving in the right direction.
Despite the delay, the NDP government has insisted last year’s election did not slow plans to replace the aging tunnel.