“The B.C. governments secretiveness is not confined to ‘shadow tolls’. And there is genuine concern they have a lot to hide…”

***updated below, with quotes from Jeff Knight, Ministry of Transportation of Infrastructure.

Disturbing words from Stephen Rees,a retired regional planner and transportation economist, who now runs a popular local blog covering transportation issues and policy. Rees worked for over 40 years in this industry, for some time serving as an economic advisor in the UK Department of Transport,during the period when Margaret Thatcher was introducing private sector initiatives everywhere – including traffic management.

” I was responsible for the appraisal of numerous projects and policies including the use of incentivized contracts in highway maintenance.” Rees says, and until 2004, he worked for the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority on a variety of policy issues.  I talked to Stephen this week about the Sea to Sky highway deal, including the presence of  shadow tolls and other issues surrounding the secrecy of P3 projects in the province. Rees confirmed what I have been saying all along – the Ministry of Transportation is playing a game of semantics between terminology used in the agreement, and industry lingo :

” Traffic volume payments are in fact, what is referred to in the industry as a shadow toll .”  Rees states. ” Shadow tolls have been around for a while. They are simply a mechanism for determining how much money should be paid to a road ‘operator’. ”

Rees goes on to add this: : ”  The problem with shadow tolls is that they are not well related to the performance of the contractor. Unlike user charges, where the revenue risk is transferred, and the company’s fortunes rise and fall depending on their performance, if people use the road the contractor gets paid. Since we are not allowed to see the ( entire) contract we have no way of knowing if there are, in fact, performance targets, penalties or premiums. ”

This interview with Rees could not have been more timely, since the Squamish Chief newspaper published a story this morning in which they were able to contact Brian Hein, the professional engineer behind one of the presentations I posted on my site .   I was interviewed by reporter Nicole Trigg earlier this week, and Trigg talked directly to Mr. Hein:

 A shadow toll is paid to the road operator by the government instead of by the road user, and is based on traffic counts and an agreed rate per vehicle type.

Hein clearly lists a “shadow toll” as one of several factors meant to serve as “protection against loss of revenue” in his presentation on behalf of S2S at a 2009 pavement conference held by the Transportation Engineering and Road Research Alliance (TERRA) at the University of Minnesota on Feb. 12, 2009.

More precisely, “the shadow toll means no driver disincentive to use road.” And in the long run, it ensures tax dollars are used for ongoing highway maintenance projects.

Hein said this accurately reflects the current situation on the Sea to Sky Highway.

“In essence, it’s based upon availability payments,” said Hein. “The concessionaire is paid to operate and maintain the highway. As long as the highway is available to the public, the government is paying to maintain the highway.”

~ snip~

Hein concedes the province may be using another term in its publicly available contract with the concessionaire.

“It’s probably not called a shadow toll,” said Hein from his Toronto office on Monday (Nov. 1). More likely, he said, it’s called “an availability payment.”

A 2006 project report available on the Partnership BC website called “Achieving Value for Money” states the “S2S is prohibited from charging tolls.” The same report also shows “availability payments” as a method of financing.

~snip ~

And Hein’s explanation of the payment system appears to contradict the MOT’s denials.

Hein told The Chief that the Sea to Sky toll is similar to one that took effect on a highway project in New Brunswick where, in 1999, the opposition party was committed to removing the tolls on the highway from Moncton to Fredericton.

This commitment led to the opposition’s election to government and the tolls’ removal. However, Hein said, a shadow toll took their place leading to New Brunswick residents paying for the highway rather than individual users.

When asked if B.C. residents are paying for a shadow toll on the Sea to Sky, Hein responded: “In essence, that’s how most of these work”


Read the entire, brilliant article only at the Squamish Chief online, HERE

Of course, Ministry of Transportation representative, Jeff  Knight, who seems to be taking this story over from Dave Crebo, ( who was moved rather quickly to another ministry this week) denied  everything, stating that any reference to shadow tolls was ” old information”.

I think what Jeff really means, is that this is information the Ministry did not intend for anyone in BC to see, except for those involved in the project.

It is this very secrecy that is the heart of the Sea to Sky highway story, a deal so steeped in false assertions of  integrity and creatively presented, glossy advertisements that one has to wonder what the government is really selling here.  In fact, while the Ministry will divert all questions by saying the agreement is available to the public on the web, they refuse to address, or reveal, the large number of schedules, annexes and other attachments that contain the finer details of the deal, and how payments and calculations were arrived at.

In fact, it was  only through researching this deal on the web, that I learned there was a bonus paid to the contractor, Kiewit, for meeting First Nations Employment targets. This information was found in a document containing  testimony made to the US House of Represenatives by the director of RBC Capital Markets !  Kiewit was required by the contract to hire a certain amount of  First Nations workers from the Lil’Wat and Squamish First Nations, and had an extensive training program to bring workers skill level up to productivity, as per this Kiewit document titled: A contractors perspective of VE and Risk Mitigation –  a must read for a completely different view of this project.

Now why is it that I, a taxpayer in this province, has to read testimony before the US house of representatives, and contractor publications to find out details of the Sea to Sky deal? Because every single detail pertaining to everything related First Nations was deemed confidential and  all portions, schedules and annexes have been removed from both the Request for Proposals and the final agreement.

I can understand the need for confidentiality during negotiations, but a comment from an editor in the UK I spoke with recently sums it up: ” Well the project is completed now, the details will all be public! ”

Nope, sorry to say, that is not how it works in beautiful British Columbia. Public projects, private details is the norm, despite being on the hook for nearly an entire generation. The government really has mortgaged our children’s future with these P3 project payments.

Stephen Rees says that while the issue of the shadow toll is contentious, it is not the main issue for him, and may be almost a distraction. This brings us back to that disturbing headline quote from Mr. Rees, one that harkens to an issue British Columbians should be concerned about.

 My concerns are that the current crop of design, build, maintain, operate contracts all exclude any public sector comparator. Since the private sector cannot borrow money at the same rates as governments, then their financing costs must be higher. They also have to produce profits: something government is usually constrained from doing.

Indeed in many places, before a contract is let to the private sector, a public sector comparator is examined. So far as I am aware that has not happened in BC, where the agency is more concerned with promoting P3s than regulating them.

Rees has hit on an issue that has raised alarm bells with critics of the deal, and how this project was evaluated and approved of  by the auditor general. The Sea to Sky P3 Value for Cost report – which the Ministry constantly refers anyone to who dares to question the integrity of the deal in any manner –  can not, and must not be regarded  as anything more than an end, to justify the means.

This article from the Business Examiner examines some of the very issues with P3’s that make me wonder why the provincial government has pushed so hard for something that, in most cases, provides the province with more debt, for a longer amount of time, and sends our money out of the country. In this excerpt, the author is interviewing a BC based contractor who has serious worries about P3’s :

I don’t believe these projects are cheaper,” he says. The evidence for the claim always comes from those with a vested interest, he says. No objective proof exists. The provincial government rests its case on the value-for-money studies done on each project by Partnerships BC, says Knappett. But this agency negotiates the very deals it is then tasked with evaluating. “And then Partnership BC’s executives are paid on the basis of how much money they’ve saved, based on their own value-for-money evaluation.”

The Sea-to-SkyHighway, by Partnership BC’s own evaluation, cost $46 million more than a conventional approach. By the calculation of the left-wing Centre for Public Policy Alternatives, the P3 model cost the taxpayer $220 million more. But Partnership BC’s value-for-money study was seriously stacked to produce a number more favourable to P3s. Summarized its author, Martin Shaffer, “It was an ideological, not an economic, decision.”

In fact, Partnerships BC CEO, Larry Blain, seemed to have no problem with the way he, or others involved, are paid, when contacted by that same author:

Blain also makes no bones about being remunerated on the basis of performance but notes that the value-for-money processes have been examined by the provincial auditor general and approved of. What’s more, the Partnerships BC board is independent of government and capable of assessing the executive’s performance

Clearly,everyone involved keeps going back to that Value for Cost evaluation done by Partnerships BC, the one ” reviewed and approved by the auditor general”.  And clearly, someone needs to sit down with the auditor general and demand an actual audit of this deal, because if I can see there is a problem with how the Sea to Sky project was evaluated, anyone can.

It goes right back to interest rates, and the FACT that Partnerships BC based their calculations in the evaluation, on the incorrect assumption that the governments rate of borrowing is the same as the private sectors costs, as detailed in this press release from the Centre for Policy Alternatives:

Vancouver) An independent analysis of the Sea-to-Sky highway project has found that it will cost taxpayers an extra $220 million over the next 25 years as a P3 than if the government had used its traditional financing and procurement processes.

Marvin Shaffer, an economist and author of the analysis released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, examined Partnership BC’s “Value for Money” report that estimated the costs of going with a P3 versus traditional government financing and procurement for the highway upgrade and maintenance project. The Partnerships BC report concluded that the P3 option would cost $46 million more, but it was nonetheless chosen. Shaffer’s analysis shows the price difference is actually much larger.

“Partnerships BC’s report exaggerated the cost to taxpayers under the public option and double-counted the benefits of the risks that the P3 will assume,” says Shaffer. His analysis details how the Value for Money report inflated the cost of government borrowing by over 2.5 percentage points, incorrectly assuming the cost of government borrowing is the same as the P3s cost of capital. The report also applied an inappropriately high discount rate to the future payments that will be made to the P3, giving too little weight to the tax burden British Columbians will carry in future years.

“Is this P3 worth a $220 million premium to taxpayers? Absolutely not. There may be some benefits to the P3, but there is no evidence that they total anywhere near that amount. It was an ideological, not economic decision to go with the P3.”

Shaffer says the provincial government should develop more accurate, transparent methods for estimating and reporting the costs and benefits of P3s versus traditional public financing and procurement. “Partnership BC’s Sea-to-Sky Value for Money Report simply did not provide accurate information about what the real costs to taxpayers will be.”

You can read the entire report on THE REAL COST OF THE SEA TO SKY, here:  http://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/BC_Office_Pubs/bc_2006/sea_to_sky_p3_btn.pdf

David Schrek, author of Strategic Thoughts, sums up it all up briefly in this piece from back in 2005, which is suddenly still so alarmingly relevent right now, and in the future:

It is particularly disturbing that Partnerships BC at least partially co-opted BC’s Auditor General with its Report.

The Auditor was asked to verify the assumptions used in the Report. In his covering note he emphasized that he did not audit the report, he merely reviewed it.

He concluded that: “Based on my review, nothing has come to my attention that causes me to believe that the Report prepared by Partnerships British Columbia does not fairly describe the assumptions, context, decisions, procurement processes and results to date of the Sea-to-Sky Highway Improvement Project.”

He’s right that the Report is sufficiently transparent that a careful read shows the government made significant errors in costing the project in 2003, revised its figures in 2005 and justified its preference for a P3 by creating artificial costs assigned to the public sector comparator in the form of unrealistic interest rates and tax treatment.

Perhaps the Auditor should do a real audit and comment on how the Sea-to-Sky project has affected funding for other transportation priorities, and whether he approves of backwards bidding that rewards spending millions for construction that goes beyond specified requirements.

What a trip. Secrecy. Faulty and over-exaggerated calculations favoring the highly expensive and lucrative overhaul of one of Canada’s most dangerous highways. And lucrative for whom? Certainly not  us, the taxpayers, who will be paying for this project – and others – for the next twenty to thirty years.  The William R. Bennett bridge is yet another project requiring a full and complete audit by the auditor general, and the sooner the better.

Remember –  and never forget –  that Kevin Falcon was the transportation minister responsible for all of these projects, as well as the failed Port Mann bridge project – and who will always be remembered for being the man responsible for the 990 year contract in the sale of BC rail, some of the proceeds of which were used for phase 1 of the Sea to Sky highway.

And the press thinks he is a good contender for Campbell’s position ?  As my good friend RossK pointed out… Kevin Falcon is the last remaining member of the Railgate 6

Power. Profit. Position. It has never been about the people.


*** Update:

I received an email from Nicole Trigg, the reporter who wrote the Squamish Chief article, that included some quotes from Jeff Knight, ministry of transportation. She thought I might be interested and I certainly am. Here is why:

On Monday (Nov. 1), he said (and I quote) “That’s old information.”

So I asked him when a no-shadow policy had been decided on, and he said he didn’t know but would find out then call me back with the answer.  He returned my call the following morning (Nov. 2):

“The decision was made approximately seven years ago,” he said.

“There was a number of options back then.”

“Different models were discussed.”

And that the current model “based on performance payments” was “approved 7 years ago”.

 Mr. Knight, ministry of transportation representative,  has outright lied to this reporter, Ms. Triggs.

The Macquarie document was presented to a business class at UBC, Sauder school of business, a couple of years ago,and was taught by Nicholas Hann, from Macquarie.  The power point document from Brian Hein was presented at a  conference a little under two years ago, attended by government partners and industry players. The final agreement posted on the web repeatedly mentions the basis of availability payments and traffic usage payments.

The ministry is trying very hard to cover this up, and make it go away. The question now becomes, who is going to demand answers? Will the local media cover this? Will the NDP speak out?

It is important to also realise that while Campbell’s influence is central to all these deals, he was not the one charged with personal oversight and administration of the Ministry of Transportation, nor any other ministry.

Those tasks fall to the Ministers, and those around them.In the case of the Sea to Sky, Falcon is on the hook for most of it, but Shirley Bond is the one charged with oversight now. Where is she in all of this?

She has refused to make a statement or address this growing pile of evidence that indicates the BC government is yet again, trying to pull one over on the people of BC .

I would also like to address the assertion by some that are continually suggesting that I am closely aligned with the NDP,and that because I have particular writers on my blogroll, that somehow  my work lacks credibility.

Nothing could be further than the truth. I am an advocate of  open exchange of information,and the sites on my personal list are varied and all provide unique views on politics and life in BC, and across Canada. It is up to you, who you read or who you do not.

Prior to the last election, I frequently blogged about issues I felt people should be aware the Liberals had on their agenda. Enbridge, IPP’s, and others. Post election, I considered running in the next election, and even met with Carol James at one point.

However, I have been just as critical of the NDP over the last year as I have the Liberals, most recently denouncing Carol as an effective leader and long ago, was even taken off the press release list for the NDP.

I have been quite vocal that the introduction of Moe Sihota and his direction can only be a losing prospect.

I am not a member of any political party, nor have I ever been. I fear for the future of this province, and it is, my one true loyalty.

My personal belief is that we desperately need a strong, third party in this province to pull us through – not unlike the Wild Rose party in Alberta – or a massive change in the ideologies of the NDP.

***  You can find the critical and analytical views of Stephen Rees , on his site at http://stephenrees.wordpress.com/

*** You can read the entire, front page story from the Squamish Chief,by Nicole Triggs,  at http://www.squamishchief.com/article/20101104/SQUAMISH0101/311049997/-1/squamish/document-reveals-sea-to-sky-highway-being-shadow-tolled

( another note of interest: The Squamish Chief is owned by Glacier Media, who have donated to the Liberals $100,o00 in 2009 – proving in this case at least, that corporate interest does not always trump editorial judgement as to a newsworthy story.  Kudo’s to the Squamish paper! )

Background to this ongoing story, in order of publication :

Breaking news : BC  liberals inked hidden toll into sea to sky highway deal and we all pay for the next 25 years

Shadow tolls on Sea to ‘Sly’ highway, the William R. Bennett Bridge,and the BC Rail connection

At last! The ministry of transportation responds to my questions…

29 thoughts on ““The B.C. governments secretiveness is not confined to ‘shadow tolls’. And there is genuine concern they have a lot to hide…”

  1. I was struck by a statement near the beginning of your column Laila. ‘stating that any reference to shadow tolls was ” old information”.’

    We have in this province a “USER FEE” that was initiated in the province last April. When asked about these fees our MLA Donna Barnett basically stated it was old news and we needn’t talk about it.
    Is she going to get a surprise today.


  2. I think at this stage in the game they are trying to downplay the roll of Shadow tolls for the S2S because of the South Fraser Freeway. We are stuck with them for the S2S, but the South Fraser Freeway is far from a done deal and we have a chance to avoid the same error and financial burden by cancelling that project.


    1. Yes Bernadette, and that is why I am calling on the auditor general to conduct a full and comprehensive audit– not another review of what was handed to him by {artnerships BC – of all P3 projects completed, underway or planned, and for the goverment to immediately release all documents withheld in the Sea to Sky agreement, and in others. I would ask that you and others also contact the auditor general, and the opposition immediately in a concentrated effort to get this done before the premier is no longer accountable.

      The concerns are many, and serious. Can the province withstand the combined bulk of these payments over the terms of the various project agreements? Where is the revenue coming from to pay these shadow toll/ traffice usage/volume payments? Was that the real reason for the carbon tax, since other countries have used hidden gas taxes to generate revenue to pay these tolls? And moreover, why is the province continuing to deny, deny deny when clearly, the truth has been revealed? What else don’t we know? What other transportation initiatives could be paid for with the money being paid out on these shadow tolls ?

      The SFPR is a redundant project with the completion of the Panaman Canal expansion, and is going to increasinly be marketed as the free alternative to the Port Mann tolls. Sad thing is, if there are shadow tolls on that as well, it’s costing everyone of us more to have increased congestion on a road that has already been downgraded once into what may prove to be a dangerous move.


  3. Excellent work – the more we read the more questions that need to be asked.

    Campbell is showing the classical signs of a physcopath and the coverup and secrecy seem to reinforce the assertions of a mental shortcoming in the premier’s makeup. Call it what you will, but it does not show signs of being concerned for British columbians – on the contrary, all efforts seem to be directed towards secretive backroom deals favouring a few well placed corporate sponsers.

    Oh boy, how much more depressing and devious can this whole charade of the BC Liberal provincial government get ???



  4. Excellent job Laila! Here’s what I sent Minister Bond this am.

    Dear Minister Bond:

    Now that Mr. Campbell is going and the rest of you Liberals are vowing to change the way that you do business in BC and start respecting the voters, I am expecting that you will be acting on this report from Laila Yule regarding the Sea to Sky highway and William R Bennett bridge and handing the files over to the Auditor General for a full review. I also expect that you will be investigating any other highways P3’s as well as dealing with David Hahn over at BC Ferries.

    I realize that Kevin Falcon was Transportation Minister at the time, but now you are, and it falls to you to deal with it.


    Unless this government pulls up its’ socks and quits treating voters with such disrespect, you will all end up going the way of your Premier in the next year or so.


  5. Shirley Bond,
    Ditto for me. Just because your boss is leaving does not mean all of you are off the hook.We are just getting warmed up.

    Would you treat your children in the same manner you have treated British Columbians?
    None of you have the future of this province, or country central to your heart. I wonder if you are there for the network opportunities and to fill your safe with cash.
    At this point I wouldn’t nominate any one of you with a grocery list and 10 spot.
    Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
    Have you tallied up all the projects and the total of how much they were over budget?
    The lies they publically spouted that justified the over runs?
    A fresh faced outsider new liebral leader is NOT going to change the minds of British Columbians.
    I laughed out loud when campbell said politicians don’t live by polls! HA! Political parties cornered the market on polls! HA HA. Another lie….


  6. I am stunned at where this is going. I keep looking in the paper for this, but it never shows up, so I called the Sun to ask why they didn’t have this story and do you know what they told me?

    That it was not news and bloggers can’t be trusted as sources.

    I am cancelling my subskription. I am so hopping made right now I just can’t even write anything more.


  7. Thank you, Laila. Your research and conclusions are incredibly important.

    We now must build upon what you’ve discovered. Simple-minded politics of “Me good, You bad” obviously doesn’t work.

    I like the notion of “Post-Partisan” political action … in which we work together to resolve the issues. That is, issues-oriented political action, a concept like Corky Evans recently described so well.

    I hope you still have the hope in your heart, of finding a way of serving this province effectively. Blessings upon you.


  8. You are the WOman! I love you, Laila. If you lived in my neck of the woods, I would vote for YOU!

    I took a quick glance at all of the documents attached in the hyperlinks and the one that stood out for me was the BC Government roads and highways web page link.

    When I clicked on all the different tabs, I saw roads/highways upon roads/highways upon roads/highways leading to all kind of travel destinations across the province and around North America leading to America and so on.

    Then my mind went to the tragic incident where someone was beheaded on the Greyhound bus.

    Then I wondered, why did the Premier remove the tolls from the Coquihalla?

    Things that made me go hum.

    Keep up the great work!


  9. EXCELLENT submission , workforfun, and one not focused on nearly enough!
    the 5th paragraph leap out at me however, it does not name the “private” sector for whom Campbell will continue to work resignation be damned!
    His reward, in part will be now he can work quite openly for the goals of his Masters


  10. Outstanding work Laila.

    Your findings appear to be one of the key peices of the domino pile that when it is taken out will expose the rape and pillage of BC by the Gordon Campbell crime family.

    By the way, the Glacier media outfit that owns the Squamish Chief and my local paper, gave the Liebrels $250,000.00 through there various companies.

    What does that kind of money buy?

    I remember our local MLA, Kevin Kruger, telling the people of Kamloops that if the Coquihalla was not privitized and we the people that already owned it did not pay exorbinate tolls to the private contactor that our childrens grandkids would still be paying for it.

    I will forward this to him to see what he thinks now.


  11. I am pretty much speechless. Your latest update with an outright lie from that guy, is makng me think there is more being hidden here. What do you think it could be? Why is the government lying about this when you have proved it using their own information?

    So do they really think we are all that stupid? Have you sent this to the NDP?


  12. I agree with disturbed, it sounds more and more like something seriously is going on. What the heck, what do we even have the NDPers for if we never hear a squeak from them? That James ought to be all over this like a fly on crap, because thats what this is, crap!!


  13. I’m with Mary. I remember last year when you were so angry you said you would run, and I said then i would vote for you if i could and I would help from where i live! but I also think you are already serving our province when you write. So either way, i am happy about it!
    keep it up, i enjoy reading you all the way up here north island!


  14. Good ?, Don. T., I agree with you when you ask, “What the heck, what do we even have the NDPers for if we never hear a sequak from them? That James ought to be all over this like a fly on crap, because thats what this is, crap!!”


  15. “Crown Corporations

    The Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure is responsible for the following Crown corporations:

    BC Transportation Financing Authority – The BC Transportation Financing Authority is a provincial Crown corporation operating under the Transportation Act. It owns provincial highways and provides for their rehabilitation and expansion through dedicated fuel taxes and other revenues. The Authority can also acquire, hold, construct, or improve other transportation infrastructure throughout B.C.”

    Page 7 of 34

    Click to access trans.pdf


    Page 5 of 12 http://www.sbr.gov.bc.ca/documents_library/bulletins/mft-ct_005.pdf

    This is where a “picture is worth a thousand words” would come in handy……

    Dedicated South Coast British Columbia Transportation Service Region pays 15 cents at the pump for Translink

    Dedicated Victoria pay 3.5 cents a litre for Translink

    Rest of the Province (no Translink, right) Nothing

    Dedicated Motor Fuel Tax – BCTFA All motorists in BC pays 6 3/4 cents per litre

    Provincial Motor Fuel Tax ( goes into general revenue) 2 1/4 cents per litre for South Coast; the rest of the province pays 8 1/4 cents

    Carbon Tax? we all pay 5.11 cents per litre (to pay the Concessionaire’s?)

    Total Provincial Tax
    South Coast 29.11¢
    Victoria 23.61¢
    Rest of the Province 20.11¢

    South Coast (Metro Vancouver): 2,116,581
    Metro Victoria 330,088
    Rest of the Province: 1,973,305

    HST …. mustn’t forget to add to General Revenue Check out Page 12 of 12


  16. Morning everyone~ Couldn’t comment yesterday with the children here, one is getting better and the other is getting sicker so both needed tons of attention ! Hazards of a blogging mother…

    Starting at the beginning,

    Gary E. – Let me know what your MLA says Gary, it’s becoming more and more hilarious to hear the ministry flounder with their increasingly hilarious refutions and reasonings of the ministry, which have now deterioated into staunch lies.

    cheryl, great job sending that to Bond. There was a massive flurry of Leg Ip’s after this was posted, that lasted well into the night. Interesting though how the PABsters dont even try convincing the readers otherwise.

    Seriously though, there are serious questions to be answered here, the answers of which must be pressed for. Worse yet, all this P3 debt is off book- meaning because the private partner arranges financing, the province doesn’t consider it proper debt!

    Unreal or what?

    Workforfun, thank you for posting this link, because another aspect of P3’s not often thought about is the amount of work that local contractors lose out on because of these big offshore and out of country consortiums. Used to be government might split up the work into smaller contracts, where local companies had a chance of bidding on, with these P3’s it’s only the big internationals that have the pockets to bid on these jobs.

    Lynn, an economist and another fellow with the interest and background have contacted me and offered to assist in calculating and showing me what the totals are going to be, watch for that in days to come.

    However, I feel completely safe in saying that while this project was on time, it certainly could never be considered on budget, for a couple of reasons.

    One, the government kept changing the figure quoted as the budget as they went along, which is demonstrated in many articles etc.

    two, the government failed to consider rising costs involved in maintenance etc, in their total budget, nor can I see evidence of calculations of the shadow toll being included there, although it may very well be in the portions they have withheld from the public.

    BC Mary! Coming from you, these words are cherished. It is your BC Rail tenacity that sets the example for me getting to the bottom of all of this ! Thank you.

    Yes, I agree the non partisan approach is likely to appeal to most people right now. Corky Evans is such an inspiration, the passion and dedication is evident in every talk he gives.

    Hmmm. Do I have the hope in my heart of serving my province? I think I am, now, at least serving the people when I write this. A reader sent me an email today, showing me something that was written about me- it was inferred that my readers don’t matter to me because I can’t give non-stop hard hitting stories all the time.

    It bothered me, because as you know, I have 4 children, and heavy family commitment to care for them. I research and write these pieces before dawn, and late after they go to bed so I can do what I need to do during the day, and I don’t have a huge income, or investments etc, like this fellow. But I do it because I do care, deeply for my readers and the rest of the people of BC, even if they don’t know who I am,or read these blogs. Knowing something is going on that is so wrong, and the people are being deceived so completely by a government, pisses me off , frankly.

    In the end, I don’t know if I will run for a provincial position. I have a son with a condition that requires a lot of attention, which was not evident when I made that promise last year, and he needs me. I don’t have any family locally so the responsibility rests entirely with me,but if the circumstances changed where I was able to, I would still be faced with who to run with. The sad truth is independents hold little ability to change or affect policy in the ledge.

    Olga, Billy, CHGZD, thank you ! I would be very interested to see what Kevin Krueger says about this, as any Liberal MLA. I’m pretty sure they will tow the party line.

    Don, disturbed and anonymous, thank you. YES. The liberals do think we are all stupid. They think no one really wants to find out about P3’s etc, and that no one will question it because it is complicated.

    You should be asking what else they might be hiding financially because no one has looked into it.

    North Van Grumps, excellent information on what we pay out all the time!!!

    Yes I wish that could be put into a lovely powerpoint page format for this blog!!!! WOW… we do pay a lot of taxes, dont we? Too bad we have these shadow tolls and other volume payments like on the Canada line, because thats a lot of money that could be diverted to public transportation, hint hint , like light rail out to the valley!!!


  17. Laila, thanks for your tenacity!

    I don’t know whether the legality of tolling the new Port Mann bridge was ever addressed, but for many years both provincial and federal politcians emphasized it was illegal to place tolls on any section of the Trans Canada Highway. This non-tolling issue goes back to the Waccy Bennett era, when he was upset by the lack of federal funding.

    I have not read anything about changes to this position, and certainly not since the decision was made to build a new bridge. Have I missed something, or was the prohabition of not-tolling any section of the Trans Canada Highway a fable?


  18. I am that blogger (and I say that proudly) on whose site Laila talked about running to make a difference next time ’round.

    In my opinion, it was heat of the moment stuff.

    But what impresses me most is how much of a difference she has made already in the interim.


    If she changes her mind and goes down a different, non-electoral road, so be it.

    Because she has proven she is in this thing for all the right reasons, that have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with ideology or partisanship.




    1. Well said, as always RossK. You sure have the talent to make the most impact, with the least amount of words! Thank you. I hope I have made a difference.


  19. Being completely selfish here, I would hate to see this gal go into politics, because there is no way in hell any party would let her talk like this, and I’d miss reading all her stories.

    Stay away from the dark side Laila, they have more than cookies.


    1. Haha! Yes, I bet they do have more than cookies over there ! I sure would miss blogging like this, which I doubt many parties would allow. Thank you. : )


  20. It is a given the government, any government, but the present perps perhaps especially, like to keep their subjects in the dark. Sure is illuminating to see, in the Sea to Sky instance, just how they do it. The fine print, they do it to us with the fine print. Now I fully understand capitalism’s love affair with PPPs. It really is a swindle, isn’t it?


    1. A swindle it is, Beer, wrapped in pretty PR paper comprised of blue skies, snow capped peaks and a lovely seaside drive… As I mentioned before, it’s pretty insulting when you realise that they are counting on peoples lack of knowledge surrounding the terminology and payment terms used on these projects. A wise man said once you can dress a pig up, but it’s still just a pig. You can call a shadow toll a traffic usage payment, but it’s still just a toll.


  21. Just think of the money the government, i.e. taxpayers, have spent up at Britannia cleaning it all up. Big real estate deals to be made. No wonder they didn’t want to “toll” as like “take a picture” and send you the bill. And Flurry Creek, big golf development, condos. All the way up the S2S and no toll, but the poor working man/woman south of the Fraser or east of the Port Mann, well too bad, another tax for you. Shameful, just shameful.
    Laila, thanks for all the hard work you do. You and so many others make our day. Keep on digging, there is so much at stake.


  22. Given the governments present secretiveness on the highway and bridge tolls – it goes much further and deeper than that.

    Here is a link to an article on BC Mary’s Legislative Raids – where an economist takes the Toronto Sun to task over blatant misrepresentation on Campbell’s record.


    Also take a trip to BC Mary’s blog site too for added comments not shown in the Pacific press article.

    The BC Libs, by my reckoning, have racked up something approaching approximately 100 billion dollars in long term debt. Read the article and see for your self.

    The scary part is, this is what we know of – what else is there to find. My gut instincts tell me there is a lot more to surface yet – no wonder Campbell is starting to sweat a little – and so he should,.



  23. Good grief girl, the hours you spent doing all of this, I can’t even imagine. A busy mother and all of the household to look after as well. You really deserve a medal, and the appreciation, of the BC citizens, for blowing the top off of this odious scandal. And to think, the RCMP are to investigate, a paltry, waste of time duty, to investigate duplicate signatures, on the fight HST. All I can say is, thank you God, for sending us Laila. I am getting old, so I have to keep reading it through, over and over. It really stinks. The BC Liberal party, is truly evil. They need to be kicked right off the planet. You may be just the girl, who has done it.


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