“Scope changes” to South Fraser Perimeter Road fuels rumours that the project is dead – and the Liberals are out of money.

What?? You don’t say??  Are the Liberals once againover budget, and underfunded – before a project even starts? NOoooo…. say it ain’t so!!!!

A little birdie flew by my window tonight, and whispered some sweet nothings in my ear… oh so sweet… regarding that often protested and over-hyped South Fraser Perimeter Road( part of the Gateway project) we all love to hate.  I swear, I nearly had a braingasm when I heard this.

Apparently, there have been several small configuration changes already to the plans, and rumour has it that even now, after the bids have been in for several weeks, the Liberals( Ministry of Transportation)  are considering some ” scope changes ” . Which could mean there are “cash flow problems” that require a significant reduction in the magnitude of the project…..

Hmmm. Have the Liberals gone and distributed the pie before it was actually made and baked again?  Because there was already a change to the structure of construction payments done, to reduce the need to raise financing to do the project…. 

Now. Between you, and I, (and all the Public Affairs Bureau employees who are no doubt in “code red” mode right now), this information set my bullsh*t detector off like you wouldn’t believe, partly because of the way the MOT rammed the Port Mann Bride through even after the winning bidder lost their financing.  It would seem to me that the Liberals have a public procurement policy in place that seems to be rigid and besieged with rules, yet those same rules are able to be altered at a moments notice. Again- see that Port Mann link just above.

Again, as with most major transportation projects in BC, the shortlist of proponents is a who’s who of favorite BC Liberal bidders, and nary a truly Canadian company among the various consortiums.  See what I mean:

Fraser Transportation Group – includes Iridium Concesiones de Infraestructuras, S.A. of Spain and Zachry American Infrastructure of Texas as equity partners and Dragados S.A. as the lead design build contractor.   

 South River Connector – includes Babcock & Brown Public Partnerships Limited Partnership and Bilfinger Berger Project Investments Inc. as equity partners, with Peter Kiewit Sons Co. and PCL Consultants Westcoast Inc. as the design build contractors.

 The Riverway Partnership – includes the Spanish firm of Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte, S.A. and the Canadian firm of SNC-Lavalin Inc. as equity partners, with Ferrovial Agromàn, S.A. of Spain and locally based SNC-Lavalin Constructors (Pacific) Inc. as design build contractors.

With the exception of SNC-Lavelin, it seems that as usual,BC money is flowing out of the province. Nothing new there. And of course, all the same names, in all the same places. SNC is not without some .. creative employees, if you recall.

But, here is the thing about all of this. It stinks. It doesn’t make sense! What if the BC liberals have hedged a bet on what they thought was a sure thing… but got it all horribly wrong ?

Charlie Smith, of the Georgia Straight, seems to be thinking the same thing. Here is an excerpt of an article I just found that will surely make you go ” Hmmmmm…”

The B.C. Liberal government has tried to position our province to be the beneficiary of growing transoceanic trade.

Part of this strategy is the Gateway Program, which is an unprecedented, multibillion-dollar road-building exercise that includes a new Port Mann Bridge, a widening of Highway 1, and a South Fraser Perimeter Road.

Agricultural land is being sacrificed for pavement and to create space for containers coming from China.

Metro Vancouver has previously reported the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure secured approximately 110 hectares of agricultural land for the South Fraser Perimeter Road and the Golden Ears Bridge projects.

According to the theory of comparative advantage, we can rely on people in other parts of the world to grow our food because they’re better at this than we are. We’ll just trade for more of it as we need it.


This weekend, China reported its first trade deficit in six years. According to Xinhua News Agency, the country posted a $7.24 billion trade deficit in March. This will come as no surprise to anyone who read Rubin’s 2009 book, Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalization (Random House Canada).

China still has a trade surplus through the first three months of the year. And overall trade still grew, which will be cited by those who don’t see any economic transformation occurring as a result of diminishing oil supplies and climate change.

Here at home, Statistics Canada reported last month that the pace of Canadian exports slowed in January. Exports to the U.S. declined 0.6 percent and imports fell by 0.5 percent.

Exports to countries other than the U.S. rose 3.8 percent, whereas imports from countries other than the United States decreased 3.9 percent, led by a fall from the European Union.

For the past 25 years, the corporate sector in Canada has promoted trade as some sort of economic panacea. You’ll sometimes hear economists say that countries that trade don’t go to war.

But all might not be as well as it seems, particularly if oil prices continue rising. The current price of US $85 per barrel is relatively high on an inflation-adjusted basis.

As this chart indicates, oil prices have only surpassed this level on an inflation-adjusted basis three times before: 1980, 1981, and 2008.

The inflationary period in the early 1980s triggered the worst economic slowdown since the Second World War.

Everyone knows what happened to the world economy in 2008. International trade plummeted as a result.

It could happen again.

I’m beginning to wonder if the B.C. Liberal government and its cheerleaders in the media are looking in the rear-view mirror–and not to the future–when they promote policies like the HST that blindly assume that more international trade is inevitable.

Ahhh… I love Charlie, I really do. This is a great piece, once that should be read far and wide with the rest of this blog. Of course, I have a soft spot for Charlie since  he did this wonderful bit that contains THE video Gordon Campbell would rather you not see.

Clearly, something is amiss in Lotusland this evening, and I’m not talking about the Canucks loss in OT. This HST petition is about so much more than the HST. It is about everything this man has done to BC in his alleged Golden Decade ( of delusion) and British Columbians have focussed all of that anger, on the HST

You all need to be asking some questions tonight. When we live in a supposedly free country, why is everything such a damn secret?  Have the Liberals put themselves in a position of possible litigation again if they do not proceed with this project? Are they relying on this supposedly ” revenue neutral” tax to pay for overpriced projects deemed necessary far before the current world economic conditions existed?

It may be speculation at this point, but I have learned where there is smoke, there is usually fire. I suspect this latest news is the spark for something far bigger.

 Time for Campbell to go.

**** Update to this post HERE – Sunday May 9th/2010 : http://lailayuile.wordpress.com/2010/05/09/fraser-transportation-group-chosen-as-preferred-bidder-for-south-fraser-perimeter-road/

Bits and Bites – Wednesday April 15th, 2009

Good morning to everyone, sorry for the late posting but if you had 4 kids from 10 months to 17 years, you might understand…

I was sitting in the chair at my surgeons office yesterday afternoon, which overlooks the new Canada line along Three road in Richmond. A gorgeous sunny day, the view through his floor to ceiling windows afforded me the opportunity to see why this line is not going to make enough money to break even. The  roads and parking lots below the  Canada line are filled, bumper to bumper, with luxury cars, and within them are people who will never step onto any form of transit in their lives. The people who currently take the bus will be the same ones who take the skytrain, and rest assured, it will not entice any new users simply because it’s there. And realistically- how many people are likely to haul their luggage down into  the horrifically steep  bowels of the Burrard, Granville and Waterfront stations, to connect to this line,  when they could simply take the shuttle or a taxi? Really, the access points are not travel laden tourist friendly.  This is clearly not a case of ” If you build it, they will come.”  My question is, how long will it be before the government admits defeat on this world class, worst case scenario decision?

Talking about worst case scenarios… the reason why I was at the surgeons office again was to check on the periapical cyst in my jaw, which is still giving me grief. Despite having the best dental insurance, I’ve spent enough on this one tooth to have been able to take a long cruise, a vacation to the Bahamas, or buy a good used car-  possibly even all three. You heard me. It started with a filling that fell out of a molar ( Cha-ching$). Then, the remaining tooth was not suited to a re-fill, so I had a crown put on(cha-ching$). The root canal abcessed( cha-ching$ on meds), so another root canal had to be done ( double  cha-ching$, because Blue Cross only covers one root canal per tooth!). This lead to the episode entitled ” When Good Root Canals Go Bad…” meaning, something happened that shouldn’t have and a cyst developed around the root. So, off to the surgeon, ( Cha-Ching$) who removed the growth and part of the offending root. Despite the best efforts, that tooth continues to be a problem and the lump is back, leaving me with some options to have more surgeries – that in the end may not work ( Cha- Ching$) – or have the tooth removed and get an implant. ( BIG Cha-Ching$$)

So, in two weeks, I’m having the freaking tooth pulled out, and will be forced to go toothless back there for about 8 months while my jaw bone heals itself so that I can have the implant done. Lesson here? Sometimes it’s better to listen to your inner voice saying ” Just pull the damn thing.” rather than the dentist who needs to pay for his Mercedes…

For those of you following the BC Rail/ Basi-Virk Hearings, please go over to  blog of my dear friend BC Mary and read some riveting new posts she has up on the link between Accenture and Enron( WOW!! Who knew?) , as well as a wonderful guest blog by Paul Nettleton, the former MLA for Prince George – Omineca. In his post, Paul addresses the need for everyone to fight for honesty, openness, transparency and accountability in the government- and how that related to his own experiences with Premier Gordon Campbell… http://bctrialofbasi-virk.blogspot.com/

As many of you know, my eldest is graduating highschool this year, and with that accomplishment comes the never-ending flow of money out of my wallet to cover all associated costs. I’m lucky in two ways though. First, she is a very un-demanding and simple girl who doesn’t go for the designer gowns and expensive accoutrement’s that are likely to be worn only once. Secondly, I can afford to pay for the items she does need, like her grad gown.

So many of us take things like that for granted, but what about if you are a single parent on a limited income- or maybe, no income? Paying for even the most basic dress or suit rental would be an impossible dream. There are many, many kids out there in homes like this right now, contemplating not going to their grad gala because they have nothing to wear, and I consider this to be a shame. High school graduation is not only a wonderful achievement, it is also a right of passage for every kid, and one that should never be denied.

That is why I want to bring something special to your attention: Surrey’s Cinderella Story. This is an annual, one day, non-profit event that provides formal wear and pampering to some of Surreys high school graduates who need it most.  They are looking for donations of new or slightly used men’s and women’s formal wear, so these kids can attend their grads with pride and honour.  Specifically, they need dresses, suits, dress shirts and ties, shoes and purses and jewellery. In addition, they also need volunteers to solicit donations, help organise the event and assist students in picking their items, and be part of the post event crew.  I’m not sure what the current wish list is, or how its changed but give them a call to find out.

I urge anyone looking for a good cause to step up and help out. These young men and women deserve it. You can contact  the following people for more information:

Parm Brar: 604-595-8890  or email: brar_p@sd36.bc.ca

Laurie McMurtry: 604-614-6642 or email: mcmurtryfamily@shaw.ca


Like Hockey? Love the Canucks?  Ready for the opening round game tonight? Can you actually afford to go to tonight’s game? Not I, my friends- there is no way to justify the cost of those tickets when you have 4 kids around…. http://www.vancouversun.com/Sports/Game+Canucks+tickets+available+Wednesday/1496400/story.html Recession or no recession, beer sales will rocket during this playoff run, especially in light of all the band-wagoners out there. You know who you are. You don’t watch all season, you make fun of the devoted fans who stick through thick and thin, and now that the Canucks have actually made it this far? You suddenly go get a jersey and car flag so you don’t look like the only geek not cheering on the Canucks. But don’t worry. We still know who you are because you stick out like a sore thumb. Don’t ask how we know, we just know.

That’s it  everyone – short today because the baby is wrapped around my ankle right now, teething yet again,my four year old is trying to get his inside out underwear, back the right way out, and some Jehovahs Witnesses are knocking on my door…I think I must be on the ‘still not converted’ list this week.