Delta mayor closing in on sending letter to Premier John Horgan about future of Massey Tunnel

Click to play video: 'Focus BC: Friday, March 22, 2019'
Focus BC: Friday, March 22, 2019
WATCH: In this edition of Focus BC, host Richard Zussman looks at auto insurance options for the province and Massey Tunnel solutions – Mar 22, 2019

Delta Mayor George Harvie says a group of mayors and First Nation leaders along the Highway 99 corridor are close to sending premier John Horgan a letter about their vision for the future of the Massey Tunnel.

Speaking on Focus BC, Harvie says the key to finding a solution for the aging tunnel and congested it creates is to work together.

“We have to respect the concerns of every city that is involved — Delta, Richmond, Vancouver, Surrey, White Rock, and of course, our First Nations,” Harvie said.

“What we have done is we are sending a letter, we are just going over the next draft of it, to the premier with our concerns. We need something that is actually going to serve the people well. We could have a 10-lane bridge here but that would just push our congestion to Vancouver.”

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The B.C. NDP released a report last year, saying the 10-lane bridge concept approved by the previous government “exceeds what is necessary for the region,” and suggests that any bridge that replaces the tunnel be built with six to eight lanes. Alternatively, it suggests an immersed tube-tunnel crossing with up to eight lanes,

Both options could also be built while keeping the existing tunnel in service, which would then be seismically upgraded to modern standards, the report suggested.

WATCH: Political reactions to Massey Tunnel report, new Pattullo Bridge (December 2018)

Click to play video: 'Political reactions to Massey Tunnel report, new Pattullo Bridge'
Political reactions to Massey Tunnel report, new Pattullo Bridge

But there are concerns from Harvie that any project touching the water could lead to significant delays.

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“We respect our First Nations, as well. They can’t have a solution that touches the water,” Harvie said. “We were back in Ottawa three or four weeks and we talked to key ministers about that. If the solution from the province touches the water in any way, it will trigger an environmental review that has a five- to eight-year timeline and could be a no. That will be a big problem for us.”

The B.C. government is currently looking through the options provided by the technical review report.

The plan is to create a new business case by fall 2020. The B.C. NDP were reluctant to continue the previous Massey replacement project because it did not have buy-in from the Mayors’ Council and it was not part of the mayors’ plan.

“I’m really looking forward to this table that has been created by all the mayors in the region to sit down and find the best solution for the people of Delta to alleviate the congestion,” MLA Ravi Kahlon said.

“The main issue for the people of my community is they don’t want to create more problems by solving one.”

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