Falcon’s follies: Gateway,SFPR and the Railgate connection.

It was a very sunny day in September 2006, when Premier Gordon Campbell arrived for the grand opening of Simon Fraser University’s Surrey campus, smack dab in the heart of Whalley. Despite the demands of his busy schedule, Campbell did make time to sit with local reporter, Tom Zytaruk… and what a revealing interview it was, indeed.

Campbell, in town to open the SFU campus on Friday, said his government is concentrating on building up this side of the river to reduce the need for commuting to Vancouver.

” It’s building a critical mass of urban commercial cultural activities here.” he said. ” There is a perception that everyone is going from here( Surrey) to there ( Vancouver). This is a perception founded in 1982. In reality, people are coming from there to here.”

 The massive Gateway  project aimed at improving the transportation of goods on this side of the Fraser through initiatives like the South Fraser Perimeter Road, says Campbell, isn’t progressing fast enough.

” I’d like it faster,” he said. ” We need to move on it. We’re further behind this year than we were last year. Every year that we wait generates additional costs,additional negative impacts.”

Of particular importance in the above excerpt is that Campbell talks about his governments concentrated efforts to build up development south of the Fraser, and the Gateway project-South Fraser Perimeter Road, in the same breath.

Why this is so important? I’ll tell you.

 Instead of winding down B.C. Rail as was the agenda of government at the time of the “sale”,former Minister of Transportation, Kevin Falcon, went on to give B.C. Rail a new mandate to develop Gateway access to B.C. ports for container rail traffic. Largely unknown to most of the general public until media reports of testimony last year in the Basi-Virk trial addressed the new mandate, what was a revelation to many, was in fact part of what many believe was part of the concentrated effort to  assist in building up development south of the Fraser River.

The  mandate and agenda presented in  the 2005-2007 service plan for BC rail appears as it was intended : the rail line and it’s subsidiaries would dispose of the bulk of its holdings over a period of time, slowing winding down. http://www.bcrco.com/2005serveplan.pdf 

After all, as the government continues to contend, BC rail was laden with debt, a massive burden to the province.

However, the 2007-2009 service plans indicates clearly Falcon’s change of mandate which orders BC rail to get in line and assist the Asia-Pacific Gateway strategy – a must read if there ever was one. In fact, the service plan states the new mandate was introduced early in 2006, which happens  also to be when former transportation minister Kevin Falcon and premier Campbell released the Gateway program information report.  

 It wasn’t until McCullough had Brian Kenning, a former BC rail board member,on the stand in the Basi- Virk trial last fall, that the  majority of the general public first heard about that change of mandate outlined above -the following from an article by Keith Fraser :

The details came out during the third day of cross-examination of former B.C. Rail board member Brian Kenning.

In 2008, five years after the Crown corporation had been largely sold off, a number of B.C. Rail executives flew to other key ports, including Hong Kong and Dubai, said Kenning, who sat on the evaluation committee for the sale of B.C. Rail and headed the audit committee.

“So B.C. Rail, in 2008, a company with [few employees], you’re saying it’s necessary for them to go on airline travel to the Far East, have I got that right?” asked defence lawyer Kevin McCullough.

“No, you haven’t got that right,” said Kenning. “What I’m saying is that we had a new mandate from the government that required us to carry out our job,” said Kenning. “We made the decision that trips to other, key, world-class ports would be helpful to us in carrying out what was a new duty tasked to us by the minister of transportation and the premier’s office.”

McCullough pressed Kenning on why B.C. Rail, which only had a small rail line at Roberts Bank and no trains by this point, would agree to such an expenditure.

“As a board member, did you not think that was absurd?” he said.

“No, it wasn’t absurd,” said Kenning. “I think it makes perfect sense, given what the government asked us to do.”

From Neil Hall:

After BC Rail was sold, Kenning recalled, the plan was to wind down the company after it sold up to $300 million of its real estate holdings, which was expected to take two years.

But he said the transportation minister at the time, Kevin Falcon, gave BC Rail an additional mandate, asking it to develop “gateway access” to ports, so executives flew to Dubai and Hong Kong for discussions with officials.

McCullough asked Kenning if he thought it was absurd that BC Rail, which was by then a small company with no trains, would send executives abroad.

Kenning said the government told the company to look at other ports with high container traffic, and that’s why executives were sent overseas

To be certain, Gateway has always been former transportation minister Kevin Falcon’s baby, as was the SFPR. It is well-known and documented  that Falcon was the driving force to make a concept that had been around for years, a reality,  and in particular he has always been vehement in his defence of the South Fraser Perimeter Road( SFPR). The rationale used to support the project always revolved around the movement of trucks carrying goods and cargo to and from Deltaport.  But to some who knew, BC rails new mandate to support the Gateway initiative and port development through the Roberts Bank Corridor was seemingly at odds with the reasoning to wind it down as a debt-ridden burden to the province.

      Of course, the  key to BC rails new mandate revolved around the rail line to Deltaport-more commonly known as the Roberts Bank Spur line, which was alleged to have been offered to Omnitrax as a consolation prize in exchange for not dropping out of the already tainted bidding process for BC Rail.  

Lawyers Michael Bolton for David Basi and Kevin McCullough for Bob Virk have repeatedly argued in court that their clients’ political superiors ordered the consolation prize be given to OmniTRAX.

The RCMP told B.C. Liberal Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon that the separate privatization process for the port subdivision had to be cancelled because it had been compromised by leaks of confidential government information.

(The article  is a must read, even more relevent now in the entire railgate affair than ever)

Of course, the line was never sold, and there was a very good reason why not. Had Omnitrax actually obtained ownership of that line, the Asia-Pacific Gateway initiative may not have transpired the way it did.

Likely realising the gem before him, former transportation minister Kevin Falcon thus changed the mandate of BC rail, which effectively halted the wind-down as previously planned. Additional staff were even required to facilitate the new activities and goals of BC Rail to support Deltaport and the gateway initiative.

In January of 2007, whispers of BC rail attempting to purchase land were making waves in North Delta coffee shops. Shortly thereafter, it hit the pages of the Delta Optimist that BC rail was making plans for a new rail yard at Roberts Bank. Although the company only owned an option to purchase a 250 foot strip along the rail line, landowners told the paper BC rail came to them asking to purchase large parcels. BC Rail claimed the landowners came to them.

 In August, 2007, B.C. Rail applied to the Agricultural Land Commission for permission to purchase, subdivide, and build an expanded right-of-way along the Deltaport rail line on 52 acres of active farmland.  The expanded right-of-way required the subdivision of nine properties in the Agricultural Land Reserve. 

 The Application (#0-37610) was NOT for exclusions but the right to subdivide farmland and build within the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Instead of purchasing just the 52 acres as approved, to date B.C. Rail has spent over 15 million taxpayer dollars to purchase over 150 acres of prime Delta farmland in the Agricultural Land Reserve.  Instead of buying portions of properties, B.C. Rail has purchased large parcels between Deltaport and a service road to the south.  

These properties were originally crown properties of the Roberts Bank Backup Lands that were expropriated by the province in 1968 and 1969 for port development. Subsequently they were sold back to the farmers between 8 and 10 years ago for very reasonable prices.

 The rationale given for the expanded right-of-way has always been the planned future Terminal 2 at Roberts Bank. The plans east of Highway 17 are to accommodate the South Fraser Perimeter Road. 

What makes all of this so interesting is that these acres and acres of farmland properties BC Rail has purchased, border  a good portion of the land that was removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve under the Tsawwassen First Nation treaty. The Tsawwassen First Nation received approximately 207 hectares (511 acres) from the ALR as part of the deal.

Some of the that land is going to be industrial development,right beside the BC rail lands. following link shows the TFN is open for business: http://www.tsawwassenfirstnation.com/TEDC_Open_for_Business_Brochure.pdf 

TEDC also issued a Request for Expressions of Interest to find a qualified partner for development of the first 100 acres of TFN Industrial Lands.On the commercial side, TEDC entered into a Letter of Intent to develop a 100 acre commercial site (on the north side of Highway 17) with Property Development Group (PDG). PDG is an experienced shopping centre developer that has developed projects on other First Nation lands.TFN was also featured in a provincial government initiative to connect foreign investment with business opportunities in BC. “

 Something tells me, that we need to go back to that interview with Campbell from 2006, where he stated his government was concentrating on building urban commercial centers south of the Fraser River…

When you consider that the SFPR began as a dedicated highway complete with interchanges to move container trucks to and from the port and it has ended up being nothing more than just another road, and a highly questionable one at that, you have to wonder why Falcon pushed so hard for this project during his time as transportation minister. Certainly,there have proven to be more than a few flaws with the project that Falcon and the Liberals never counted on, and  have had to compensate  for.

The global economic meltdown, for one – the fallout of which is still greatly evident in reduced container traffic through our ports, thus negating the crux of the rationale behind the SFPR. The reason why the project has been downgraded several times (possibly at great risk to drivers, with a major interchange reduced to a light controlled intersection at one crucial juncture ) we have been told is because  current and projected traffic volumes did not merit the build.

Some analysts have been saying all along that Deltaport container traffic is unlikely to ever reach the levels it once was considering the Panama Canal expansion opens only one year after the SFPR –  greatly reducing the likelihood Asia will continue to offload goods here on the west coast. With the expanded canal able to accommodate super-cargo carriers, shippers can make the more cost-effective choice of delivering goods directly to the eastern coast of the USA and Canada via the canal, rather than stopping here and then trucking or sending cargo via rail across the country.

And then let us not forget the very profitable bounty of curious land deals that have been occurring since 2005 along the current route of the SFPR – some long before specific details were known to the general public and even prior to the completion of the environmental assessments.( to be detailed in a future installment)

Add it all up and it appears there are grand plans underway to develop and industrialize hundreds of acres of lands south of Deltaport way, and the BC Rail  spur line and subsequent land aquisitions are central to it.

A note of interest at this point, is that Colliers international did a report on the real estate benefits of the SFPR, even before the project included this southern portion. From that report:

 “Colliers carried out a two phase study with reports provided in November 1999 and January 2000.  Phase I forecast the type, magnitude and rate of land development without and with SFPR.  Key findings and conclusions were:

 SFPR catchment area of South Westminster, Bridgeview, Port Mann and Fraser Heights has approximately 900 acres of vacant industrial land of which 50% is serviced.

 Without the SFPR, it is forecast that approximately 200 acres would be developed for industrial purposes by 2021.  With SFPR all 900 acres would be developed by 2021.  The incremental 700 acres of industrial development can be attributed to enhanced accessibility due to SFPR. 

Colliers conclude that this increase in demand would be reallocation from within Greater Vancouver.”

Both Gateway and the SFPR have been instrumental in allowing both government and developers  relatively unfettered access to one of the last great undeveloped tracts of land yet untouched because it sits in the agricultural land reserve -all through a series of land deals,swaps and treaties no one anticipated before it was too late.

Some say Gateway and the South Fraser Perimeter Road are two of former transportation minister Kevin Falcon’s biggest follies. Considering the number of land titles I hold in my hand from deals related to these projects, I would say they have potential to rival the land deals along the Sea to Sky highway.

Either way, I’d say perhaps Omnitrax really did  lose out on the most expensive consolation prize in history… and former transportation minister-now- liberal-leadership-hopeful Kevin Falcon has more questions to answer, since he was behind the mandate that turned BC rail into a tool for land development in Gateway.

*** BC Rail went onto a long term agreement with Kinder Morgan as a result of issuing this request back in 2006. http://www.bcrco.com/operating.pdf 

***On April 1st, 2010, BCRC was brought back into government under the BC Transportation Financing Authority,and it’s reporting will be combined with the BCTFA, as reported in the 2009 report, which is good reading.  http://www.bcrco.com/2009report.pdf

Excerpts of interest from that report:

During 2009, the Company met all its specific mandated objectives and continued to work toward its mandate of acquiring and holding railway corridors and strategic port lands and making related infrastructure investments to support the Pacific Gateway initiative.

 BCRC’s primary mandate is to support and facilitate the British Columbia Ports Strategy (“BC Ports Strategy”) and Pacific Gateway Strategy, by providing consulting advice, acquiring and holding railway corridor and strategic port lands, and making related infrastructure investments for the Province. – acquisition and retention by BCR Properties Ltd. of key lands which support port terminal operations. BCRC, through its subsidiary BCR Properties Ltd., has also retained ownership of port-related lands,

On April 1 2010, 100% ownership was transferred to the BC Transportation Financing Authority (“BCTFA”). From this date onwards, information reported in the BCRC Annual Report will be consolidated into the BCTFA, resulting in this being the last annual report for BCRC.
– BCRC is principally a holding company with its commercial and business activities conducted through its operating subsidiaryBCR Properties Ltd. (“BCR Properties”). This wholly owned subsidiary operates the Port Subdivision, the 24-mile railway line connecting three major railways (CN Rail, Canadian Pacific Railway, and BNSF Railway) with the port terminals at Roberts Bank. Although it does not operate its own trains on this railway line, BCR Properties maintains the track and manages all train operations, recovering its costs from the three user railways based on their respective share of traffic over the line. BCR Properties also manages the Company’s non-railway real estate portfolio. This includes retention and management of the strategic port-related lands including lands associated with Vancouver Wharves and Squamish Terminals operations.

 Benefit to the Public   The main benefit to the public of BCRC’s operations comes from its role in helping to implement the Shareholder’s BC Ports Strategy and Pacific Gateway Strategy. These strategies will add billions of dollars of economic output and more than 30,000 jobs in British Columbia by 2020 by expanding and increasing the efficiency of the province’s transportation infrastructure. While increasing the province’s capacity to serve export markets, it will also directly benefit British Columbians by improving movement of people and goods, facilitating economic growth, increasing transportation choices and enhancing connections to designated population growth areas. *****



Bits and Bites – Thursday July 23nd, 2009

*** updated 11 am, July 23rd-

Colin Hansen just announced that on July 1st, 2010, the BC government will “harmonize” the PST we pay with the Federal GST– in other words, they are going to combine the two taxes into one charge on your purchases. Read the press release HERE.  What does this mean for you ?

Currently, these are the items exempt from PST in BC, among them are: food items, drugs and medicine. Under the new combined sales tax, it appears that you will likely be paying more tax at the grocery store and in other areas, while some exemptions will remain. Oddly enough, although  the presser accentuates the virtues of the combined tax and how it is going to help us all, it goes on to mention that a credit will be issued to low income families to offset any impact the new tax will have. Meaning, this new tax will only turn out to be a good thing for the government.

Long story short ? Campbell just raised the axe again  and slashed again — in your wallets.


You know what makes running every morning at 5 am fun? Getting to see the sunrise over the hill and  feeling that cool morning air wash over me as I run. Try it, you might like it. You don’t have to run, you can walk, but just once this week, get up at 4: 45 am, get your workout gear on and head out the door to catch that sunrise. I promise you won’t regret it.

Every once in a while you read something that just blows your mind, and the first item up this morning did just that. An Ontario woman is campaigning AGAINST universal health care in the United States!! Yes, she is warning everyone- on behalf of an American organization against universal health care –  that she would have died from a growth near her brain if she had waited to be treated here in Canada. Not happy with her wait time to see a specialist, she re-mortgaged her house and flew to the US for treatment. http://news.sympatico.msn.ctv.ca/abc/home/contentposting.aspx?isfa=1&feedname=CTV-TOPSTORIES_V3&showbyline=True&date=true&newsitemid=CTVNews%2f20090722%2fhealthcare_ads_090722 

Now, Ujjal Dosanjh is running around doing damage control on American and Canadian stations, telling them that yes, sometimes we do have issues, but overall it is a far better system.  You know, I feel for this woman, I really do, but has she really thought about what she is doing? Is she aware what happens to far too many people in the US? Has she ever watched SICKO? We might have our issues, but the system here is still far better than down there.

“Not only has the criminal justice system failed my beautiful child; they have failed all of you, all Canadian citizens. There is nothing there to protect you.” These words from Sandra Martin-Toner, the mother of Matthew Martin who was killed at the age of 16, in cold blood, at Surrey Central skytrain station in 2005. She was referring to the decision to allow Katherine Quinn out on bail while she awaits a new trial after her second degree murder conviction was over turned because the judge had erred in his instructions to the previous jury.  I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again – it is time to hold our judges accountable by electing them. No more appointments, elect them all so they have to answer to the public.  Quinn, a mother of three, must remain in her parents home and is not allowed to leave except for doctor visits and court appearances. Makes me wonder how they plan to make sure she actually does this – like, is this the honour system here?  My thoughts are with Matthews mom and family this morning – may you all find the strength to see this through again.

In another development, Justice Thomas Braidwood is going to announce some preliminary findings today from the inquiry into the use of tasers by RCMP in Robert Dziekanskis death in 2007. CBC is reportingthat ” the announcement will deal only with “the use of conducted energy weapons by law enforcement agencies in B.C.,” but …may also include recommendations for severe restrictions on the use of the devices. ” Yes, take away those tasers. Cops survived decades without them, and can continue on that way in my opinion. Solicitor General Kash Heed is expected to hold a press conference immediately after the announcement to respond to the contents of the report.

( speaking of Kash Heed, looks like he never heard of the phrase: ” Loose lips sink ships…” )http://www.vancouversun.com/refuses+discuss+allegations+involving+West+child+porn+probe/1816666/story.html  

Much like our dear premier though, he usually refuses to comment on anything. Is there some sort of Liberal boot camp where new politicians get schooled on the art of obfuscating and stone walling?

 The weather is hot, but things might get a lot hotter on River Road in Delta today, where protesters plan to block the demolition of houses to make way for South Fraser Perimeter Road construction. Contrary to the Liberals mantra to reduce greenhouse gases, a report by the Livable Region Coalition found that the Gateway project would  actually increase provincial emissions by 30%!  “The BC government’s freeway expansion schemes are completely at odds with their own provincial greenhouse gas reduction targets,” says Surrey resident Tom Jaugelis. “Our planet is facing a climate crisis and the wasteful Gateway project will only make it worse.”

The project will pave over 75 homes in Delta and  portions of Burns Bog, in addition to acres of some of the best farmland in BC. The protest will start at 6:30 am at 10253 River Road in Delta. Details at http://www.gatewaysucks.org/

Enbridge will be responding to the questions of Kitimat resident Murray Minchin, as I recently detailed in this post : http://lailayuile.wordpress.com/2009/07/21/debate-rages-on-over-enbridge-northern-gateway-project/ Here is the rather anonymous response I received from someone at the Northern Gateway office:

Dear Laila,
Thank you for your email. We also received Murray’s letter as he forwarded
it to us last Friday. I have passed it on to Roger Harris as well as
Steven Greenaway, VP of Public and Government Affairs. They have
acknowledged receipt and will respond. I have also forwarded your email to
them today.

Thank you for your interest in the project Laila, we will be in touch soon.

Enbridge Northern Gateway

You see? They are actually thanking me for my interest in their project.( Which means I’m likely on a list on some PR guys desk in Texas with a big red bullseye on it.) Oddly enough though, National Public Relationshas been visiting the site again, which means either I’m somebodies work assignment or they just really like me…. hehe.

I’m thinking things must be getting a little hot for the Premier right now, and I’m not referring to the heat… no sirreee.  He’s slashed student aid, cut back on health and who knows what else is headed our way- but the biggest question everyone has for him is still: ” WHO ORDERED THE DESTRUCTION OF THOSE EMAILS ?”  I’m guessing Gordon Campbell is  ” Under Pressure” like never before …

Keep it cool everyone !

An open letter to Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon

Dear Mr. Falcon,

I  am still feeling rather confused this morning after watching your interview with CTV’s St. John Alexander on the 6 o’clock newscast last night.

In speaking with St.John about why tolls are absolutely necessary for the construction of the suddenly very expensive Port Mann Bridge construction, you told him it was because you didn’t want people in Fort St. John, or people in Chetwynd, or some people over on the island – who are never going to use that bridge – to have to pay for it.

Do you recall saying that? The link to that video is here at roughly the 5:25 min. mark : http://www.ctvbc.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20080124/BC_Vid_Newscast_080124/20080205/?hub=BritishColumbiaHome

While  it sounds incredibly generous on the part of the government  to consider( for once), the taxpayers  in the rest of BC who are unlikely to be driving that bridge anytime soon, it behooves me to reflect on why you would not also deem this to be the appropriate manner of handling the ongoing taxpayer cost in paying for the Provinces financial commitment on the Sea to Sly  Sky Highway ? ( http://www.straight.com/article-93176/developers-are-the-games-real-winners )

What about those people in Fort. St. John, Mr.Falcon ? What about them?

Or the people you mentioned in Chetwynd and Vancouver island who are just as likely to NOT be using the Sea to Sky anytime soon? 

You may as well add in the people in Prince George, or Vanderhoof, and God forbid, those poor souls in Mackenzie where the the mill is closed for business- they aren’t likely to be going up to whistler to ski anytime soon with their lives in ruin. I’m sure they would appreciate not having to contribute their hard-earned tax dollars to that highway project either. They need every penny they have to start fresh somewhere else.

By your own rationale for tolling the Port Mann, it seems highly unjust that the remainder of the province should have to pay for the Sea to Sky improvements either. Simple as that.

Maybe it’s just me, but try as I might, I  just cannot see the sense in this statement.  How do you pick and choose what projects we all pay for through taxes and others pay for through tolls? Rock, paper, Scissors? 

By using this same rationale, I’m extremely surprised that the Sea to Sky was not selected for tolls –  it would seem to be a cash cow for the province that you could realistically milk for years, what with the ongoing resort and residential development in that corridor. This was a very expensive  project – some say much more expensive than it could have been :  http://www.strategicthoughts.com/record2005/seatosky.html  

What tourist doesn’t want to drive out that way, winter or summer? And let’s be frank here – if you can afford to go skiing in Whistler,( parking, lift pass, meals, etc)  you can afford a $3 toll each way… why over look the opportunity to have revenue come in from a source that doesn’t include provincial taxpayers? I just can’t understand this.

My understanding from reading past information about the Sea to Sky highway project is that the commitment for paying the provinces portion is based over 25 years. http://www.partnershipsbc.ca/pdf/SeatoSkyFinal.pdf  Please correct me if this is incorrect, after all, I am by no means a transportation minister.

Can you imagine the revenue from tolls on that stretch of highway?  Imagine that.  At least then,  (much like the Port Mann project) it would be the residents , employees and tourists who live/work/play in  the Squamish-Whistler area who bear the brunt of the improvement costs, rather than people like me who never go there – or the rest of the people in BC who can’t afford that trip either. When those considerations are taken into account, it would almost seem negligent on the governments part to NOT have a toll on the highway. Unless, of course , there are considerations the public does not know about that would affect such a decision. ( http://www.straight.com/article-93176/developers-are-the-games-real-winners )

Makes perfect sense to me, but then again, I’m just an average woman who is still having issues with why these P3 options are always more expensive than the public sector counterpart – you know the old “cost for value line”  and ” risk adjustments”?   Can’t understand the math you used on CTV last night, no matter how hard I try. Can’t understand why your ministry keeps trying to make us believe that P3’s are the best option for us. We all pay in the end, no matter who shares in the project financing.

Anyways, I digress.

I would appreciate any assistance and explanation you can offer me, because with 4 kids to put through college, I also need every penny I can save.  You would seem to be the right person to talk to in this regards – after all, aren’t you the minister who was responsible for the 990 year contract in the sale of BC Rail?

Oops, sorry. Perhaps I shouldn’t have mentioned that…

Best regards,

Laila Yuile

 Ps. I really like this picture of you and Gordon. Can you  both autograph one and send it to me for posterity? One for the memory book…



Just for fun, let’s throw a couple polls in here, to see how you feel about tolls on the Port Mann and the Sea to Sky Highway


Prime Minister Stephen Harper,Premier Gordon Campbell and Stockwell Day offically launch construction on the contentious South Fraser Perimeter Road


*** reaction to this launch here: http://lailayuile.wordpress.com/2009/01/14/contrary-to-what-the-premier-and-the-transportation-minister-say-the-public-is-not-behind-the-government-on-this-contentious-issue/


( Although you would never know it, by the lack of coverage on the evening news tonight, or in the major local papers online.  Oddly enough, a reporter with CTV had both the Premier and the Prime Minister comment on the 2010 olympic village fiasco, and failed to show the SFPR story in any part. )

Despite the opposition of environmental groups, residents and business alike, the Prime Minister officially launched construction of the South Fraser Perimeter Road today in Surrey at the Fraser Port. ( Interesting how this all has occurred right at the height of the 2010 Olympic village nonsense- but I’m sure that has nothing to do with the timing) .

  The press moment had been kept under wraps, however, was leaked to certain individuals in the public last night by an internal source, allowing for protesters to make it to the fence outside . The Prime Minister was  joined by Premier Gordon Campbell and  International Trade Minister Stockwell Day,  and it was clear that the Prime Minister seemed pleased at the speed of which construction has begun.

 ” The South Fraser Perimeter Road is a concrete example of how two levels of government are working together to take the steps needed to protect Canada’s economy today and strengthen its foundations for the future,” he said. ” I am pleased that both levels of government were able to finalize an agreement this fall and, soon after, get shovels in the ground.”

Gordon Campbell used the moment to emphasize  how the project will assist in job creation. “The South Fraser Perimeter Road Project will create an estimated 7,000 new jobs by 2021 and will build B.C.’s economic competitiveness by streamlining the movement of goods and people and ensuring we can tap into the trade opportunities with the Asia-Pacific “.

Sure. It’s all about the jobs….

There was much speculation about who will be running this project and  H.W. Lochner, a large American firm that is a nationally-recognized authority in surface transportation infrastructure and related services seems to be the name popping up most often. From planning and consultation to implementation, they are definitely a realistic bet to get the job done.

Of course, despite the repetitive billing that the SFPR will  improve traffic safety and travel for families as well as business in the GVRD, the bottom line remains the ease at which goods will flow from port to rail, and trucking facilities to industrial yards. Construction has been rammed through despite the concerns of how this will impact the ecologically sensitive Burns Bog area, as well as the quality of life for students and residents whose homes and schools parallel the route of construction.

Stay tuned for more commentary from the most vocal protesters of this project shortly.



South Fraser Perimeter Road announcement scheduled today – no public access allowed.

******Update: See the following story on my home page here: http://lailayuile.wordpress.com/2009/01/12/prime-minister-stephen-harperpremier-gordon-campbell-and-stockwell-day-offically-launch-construction-on-south-fraser-perimeter-road/ *********

Gordon Campbell, Kevin Falcon, and Federal reps will be making an “announcement about the South Fraser Perimeter Road” at the Surrey Fraser Docks.This announcement may concern new Federal funding for the SFPR, but interestingly enough, the announcement will take place behind the fence on Port property, so public access can be controlled. Does the Premier fear the reaction of local residents?

Part of the  very contentious Gateway Project, the South Fraser Perimeter Road has been a thorn in the sides of Surrey/Delta residents since the conceptual plans for Gateway were first introduced.

The Project is a massive old-school highway-expansion plan being launched by the BC Government, spearheaded by Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon

Key points of the scheme are
-twinning of the Port Mann Bridge
-Expansion of Highway One to eight lanes between Langley and East Vancouver
-construction of North and South Perimeter Roads through Delta, Langley, Richmond and Surrey
– massive reconstruction and enlargement of the Delta shipping port

The Gateway Project is expected to cost approx. $10 billion, and there has been virtually no meaningful public consultation on this project, nor have any environmental assessments been completed. The Province has announced plans to “streamline” the environmental assessment process in order to break ground on target.

Full details from the BG governments provincial website can be found at http://www.gatewayprogram.bc.ca/

Interestingly however, to date, Gateway has found its most vocal opposition south of the Fraser, where residents are outraged by the threatened expropriation of our most fertile farmland and the tragic impact of highway-building and port expansion on the rare ecosystems of Burns Bog and the Fraser estuary, including the orca pods of the Georgia Straight. This map shows exactly where expansions are planned:

The project is being touted as a “solution to traffic congestion,” although every traffic planner knows there is NO evidence to support this approach. All evidence proves that increasing road capacity does not decrease congestion – in fact, it makes it worse.

In fact,  Gateway was never intended to ease commuter traffic – it was conceived to move goods, not people. It’s true intent is to facilitate trade with Asia. The appeal to local drivers is a simple ploy to garner votes. Sound familiar?  ” Let’s entice and appease the locals to get what we want…”

Regardless of content , todays announcement will  surely have an impact on the lives of those who inhabit the areas where  road construction is planned. Let your voice be heard by local politicians, today between  ONE and TWO pm, at the Surrey Fraser Docks on Elevator Road. Google map

For more information, check out http://www.gatewaysucks.org/  , the source of the above information.