Sea to Sky shadow toll story makes national news courtesy of Mark Hume and the Globe and Mail

Mark Hume of the Globe and Mail has done an outstanding job of taking the Sea to Sky highway shadow toll story to an entirely new level in the Monday edition of the paper, and managed to get some rather creative answers from both Macquarie and the BC government.

Truly,creative doesn’t even begin to describe what Nicholas Hann, managing director of Macquarie North America had to say in response  to Mark’s queries,considering he has been actively involved in teaching business students all about P3’s at UBC’s Sauder school of business for some time. He certainly didn’t have any hesitations in describing those shadow tolls in workshops and lectures!

Here is a tease :

When the Sea to Sky Highway was reconstructed for the Olympics, the government considered paying for the $600-million upgrade through a toll.

But that idea died early. Tolls aren’t popular with the public in general, and tourism operators in Whistler didn’t fancy the idea of having a toll gate looming like a barrier between Vancouver and the ski hill. So it became a toll-free highway.

Or did it?

Laila Yuile, a provocative writer and blogger who keeps a close watch on the B.C. government, has been drawing attention to documents that indicate a “shadow toll” exists on the dramatically scenic highway…

Read the rest of Mark’s column in the Globe and Mail, here: 

May I say, in the short time it has been posted tonight, discussion has been rampant, and very opposing in views of P3’s in general. Wonderfully rewarding to see the discussion and the ensuing email flood!!!  I will reply personally to everyone, in time!

Scroll down to see the latest damning contract, as well as links to the entire series!

11 thoughts on “Sea to Sky shadow toll story makes national news courtesy of Mark Hume and the Globe and Mail

  1. Hey Laila!
    I am hoping the best comes of this. it is all in how it is presented and whether people can understand. I know from trying to explain this to people that they have a hard time understanding the concept. It is though that is what the government relies on and how it goes unnoticed
    When trying to explain this to people if I simply change the word “shadow to ‘Hidden” they seem to grasp the latter better.
    It’s all in words as anything associated with politics but we must hope it is presented in a way that the public will understand and not feel intimidated by. I hope this happens!


  2. I wonder, what would be cheaper to the taxpayer:

    1)The way things used to done, homegrown labour and the paycheques that circulate back into a British Columbian economy-and the job done right.


    Secretive contracts issued in a sketchy way to foreign company(s) and those profits sent outside of this province, never to help sustain a British Columbian economy, and slip shod work so as to boost the bottom line profit margins.
    We, the taxpayer have to pay over and over again an overinflated cost to drive or use crap.
    The Canada Line was built quickly. Now they are having issues with breakdowns not to mention the sretching coming from the cars.
    The Golden Ears bridge was also built quickly that has issues.
    The No. 1 highway and Port Mann is a shit hole to drive on. The road doesn’t have a crown on it so water pools everywhere.
    Yeah, this new way of building is providing great value.


  3. I notice the Liberal trolls are at work commenting at the G&M. They are convinced every thing is wonderful, that each and every contract is a good deal. I’m not sure how anyone can say that if the important terms regarding cost are hidden from view. Seems that Laila asked for the contract schedule that holds important financial data and was told that was unavailable. Why are they hiding it?


  4. Trolls are busy these days.

    This is just one of many “shadow” deals. Let’s hope Mary et al get to the bottom of BC Rail, BVB payoffs, ROR contracts.


  5. No kidding the trolls are busy these days – I imagine PAB is having a field day! They do have a way of leaving their “mark” on their comments don’t they?

    That aside, that this story has gone national is a good thing…it shows the rest of Canada that Quebec doesn’t have a clear first place on the corruption scale. I’d say it’s a tie between BC and Quebec. MIght even be a warning to those back East thinking of making the move to the West…stay out of BC if you want respect from your government.

    Let’s hope this is only the beginning of the “outing” of corruption in BC…from the BCSC all the way down. One commentor did say something that I agree with for sure…and that’s the fact that there will be a mass exodus from BC when the debt is truly known. That is IF we have a government willing to share the truth with us.

    That leaves out the libs and the ndp.


    1. – some links are showing comments are now closed??

      And from a reader who emailed me this comment he left on the G &M site:

      “A toll by any other name would smell as sweet.

      The contract to Transtoll, a wholly owned subsidiary of Macquarie Group, the lead partner in Sea-to-Sky Investments who are the concessionaire of this project, is not “to provide traffic counting technology for the road”. It is to verify the accuracy of numbers that are being produced by an existing system supplied by iCx Technologies of California. The concessionaire provides traffic counts as one component of performance payment invoices they regularly send to the provincial government.

      iCx have installed cameras and microwave sensors (something like photo-radar), which detect vehicles and estimate their size*. The cameras capture license plate images, which can be read by special character recognition software. A network of these sensors and cameras feeds back to a control centre in Richmond, operated by the engineering partner of Sea-to-Sky Investments, Peter Kiewit & Sons.

      The character-recognition feature of the iCx system, used in conjunction with B.C.’s motor vehicle databases, would allow authorities not only to bill individual highway users at some point in the future, but also to monitor their movements.

      In uncovering the shadow toll system, Laila has also revealed a potential privacy issue.



    2. I’ve been up for a bit this morning- breakfast etc takes precendence in this house in the morning, but it’s been interesting to read the comments on the article online. The vast majority are very positive, the PAB are so bloody and Norman, you take the award for the very first comment left on that site last night! I see you were very busy and thanks for making some important points on this.

      The bottom line is this, and Leah states it well when she says there will be a mass exodus from BC when the true debt is revealed, not only on this project- from what I have seen the $75million quoted as being paid out is far,far below what is actually being paid out. Sources tell me that isn’t even close, which is why the government will not release the schedules relating to the calculations on those traffice usage payments.

      Of course, projects and infrastructure need to be paid for somehow- in the end, the taxpayer generally gets dinged via the trickle down effect. However, what is important to note that these hidden toll payments are above and beyond the so-called required payments and have nothing to do with transfering risk to the operator, but have everything to do with making a good return on the investment for the operator. Shadow tolls are not a requirement to financing a deal, they are a sweetener,nothing more.

      Think about it.


  6. You go girl! Tweeted it back out with their button.. suggest we show them there is support for actual journalism!!! (Hopefully you won’t have to always do all the leg work… maybe they will get the idea about how it is done!)


  7. Great work on this story. Unfortunately it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Pt Mann/Hwy 1 looks like it is being built “cost plus” with poor quality controls. The retaining wall on lougheed hwy is already failing and it’s not even finished. Your tax dollars at work!


  8. Whatever happened to site and construction inspections by Department of Highway officials ?
    Ah yes, Campbell has pushed deregulation, so the industry monitors itself. Hhhhhm, shoddy work, concrete failures = more money spent with little accountability.

    Let us see some sort of responsible oversight from the government – but I doubt that will ever happen as Pinocchio Gordon “THE LIAR” Campbell is still in charge – and he doesn’t take responsibility for anything and hides behind his family, whining !!!!

    Oh boy, I see lots of problems down the road regardless who is in governement, because of the despicable way Pinnochio Campbell has handled everything. Absolutely nothing up front and transparent – more time spent on coverups instead of doing it right in the first place. Definately beats out Quebec as corruption capital of Canada now !!!



  9. Although Hume did a good job in reporting this, the work continues for bloggers. We cannot rely on our “corporate” media to get the facts and truths out. I have suspicions when they start “finally” putting something in the paper. A tidbit here and there, but where have they been all these years?? We all must carrry on regardless of the mainstream media.

    Thanks Laila.


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