“It’s never too late to reverse a mistake that was made.” ~ Premier Christy Clark, December 16th, 2015
It was under stunning clear skies and a view of fresh snow on the North Shore Mountains Clark made the statement that most British Columbians welcome hearing.
Of course, it’s in reference to the Conservatives terribly shortsighted and frankly dangerous decision to close the Kits Coast Guard Base,which was re-opened this morning. And good on Clark for saying so – for once, I agree with the premier. ( Yes, shocking I know. )
Now lets talk about how we can apply this bit of wisdom to the rest of today’s news : the Loukidelis report and the sketchy plan for the Massey Bridge government managed to whip up in record time.
The Loukidelis Report
Forgive my incessant questions,but how much did taxpayers pay for these 71 pages? Because basically Loukidelis simply reviewed what incidents prompted the report, what Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham had recommended – in some cases, several times over years- and advised the government to follow them.
I’m not kidding. Denham has been telling government this for a very long time. In reports, in letters and in the media. But oh no, government had to appoint someone else to tell them pretty much the same thing: Don’t triple delete, comply with FOI’s, etc etc.
The gem is that Loukidelis also advises penalties for document destruction to evade an FOI – his suggestion is up to and including dismissal, but he also suggests government might consider making it an offense to do so.
Funny thing about that… and I have still yet to see this mentioned anywhere in any news clipping of this... that improperly destroying documents actually was an offense until the Liberal government removed it in May of this year– right before Tim Duncan blew the whistle on Georges Gretes intentional deletion of emails in response to an FOI.
That removal of the offense act from the legislation, means that staff would not face charges for improperly destroying documents. And that means no deterrent.
What makes it even more ridiculous,is that the Commissioner has recommended Duty to Document legislation in three separate instances since 2013, and government has ignored every request.
Why? We still don’t know,but thankfully now that Clark believes it is never too late to reverse a mistake, she’ll immediately call for Duty to Document legislation,and she’ll re-instate the Offense portion of the act her government removed, so people who intentionally destroy documents can be charged for doing so. And critics will be watching for this in January. ( But we won’t be holding our breath! )
The next Billion dollar boondoggle: Massey Bridge announcement
Of course,what do you do when you have a report coming out that you really don’t want to talk about because it brings up all sorts of nasty little incidents your government was on the hot seat for? You announce a press opportunity so contentious that hopefully it will deflect any attention from what you really don’t want to talk about.
And that’s exactly what happened today with both the Loukidelis report and the boondoggle bridge competing for press attention at the same time this morning.
Yes indeed, a 10 lane mega bridge paid for by tolls – because clearly we residents south of the Fraser love paying tolls right? – and a business plan created out of thin justifications for what is going to be another exercise in bad government decision making.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane to 2006 when then Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon announced the regions transportation plans for the next decades. This is pretty much the oldest thing I could find quickly on that: http://www.canada.com/story_print.html?id=0c3cc174-0094-4fc2-92d7-44e23b60736a&sponsor=
Twinned tunnel part of Victoria’s long-term plan
BY THE VANCOUVER SUN
The provincial government’s long-term road-building plans include a second mega-project on the scale of the $3-billion Gateway Program, studies done for the Gateway plan show.The second project would include twinning the George Massey Tunnel under the south arm of the Fraser River between Richmond and Delta, expanding Highway 99 on both sides of the tunnel from four lanes to six, and building a new four-lane expressway to connect Highway 99 with the Trans-Canada Highway.
However, there are no immediate plans to build it.
The Gateway Program calls for the Port Mann Bridge over the Fraser to be twinned, widening of the Trans-Canada Highway on both sides of the bridge and building new truck routes on both shores of the river.
The longer-term plan — dubbed “the H99 project” by British transportation consultants Steer Davies Gleave, who did the major studies for the Gateway plan — “is still in the early stages of development for possible future long-term implementation,” their report notes.
The report — not yet public but obtained by The Vancouver Sun — says the H99 project is similar to the Gateway plan “in that it assumes a widening of both the Fraser River crossing, in this case the new bore next to the existing George Massey (Deas) Tunnel, and widening of a length of the existing highway to both the north and south of the crossing.”
The project is on the back burner in part because it would put pressure on traffic bottlenecks to the north, requiring expansion of the Oak Street and Knight Street bridges into Vancouver or a new bridge into Burnaby.
Gateway Program executive director Mike Proudfoot said Wednesday the Highway 99 plan is one of many proposals for the region.
“That would be part of our longer-term strategy,” he said. “The Gateway Program corridors are the priority ones.”
Do read the entire link, because it’s always fun to look back to what was originally planned and where we are now. The tolling strategy for the region planned then, is far different than what we see now and of course now both the Golden Ears Bridge and the Port Mann are not meeting usage/revenue projections by far.
So of course it makes sense to build another monster bridge with 10 lanes paid for by tolls. I’m sure the tourists heading to the ferry terminal are going to love that.
Why aren’t we twinning the bridge?
Why did that plan, which would now include seismic upgrades and maintenance to the current tunnel I’m told by a well connected source, disappear in favour of this bridge? Richmond politicians long favoured that option – check out this link to comments by Malcolm Brodie and Harold Steves : http://www.yourlibrary.ca/community/richmondreview/archive/RR20060218/news.html
For one reason only. To allow bigger ships passage up the Fraser River. Port of Metro Vancouver recently approved the Surrey Coal Transfer Facility, which would load thermal coal coming from the US directly onto 80 Panamax ships every year. http://www.thenownewspaper.com/news/359159251.html
A revised proposal to build a new coal export terminal on the Fraser River in Surrey has received approval from Port Metro Vancouver.
The port authority on Monday issued an amended project permit to Fraser Surrey Docks that approves the company’s altered plan to load coal directly onto ocean-going ships, rather than first barging coal to a transfer site at Texada Island as originally planned.
The terminal would bring up to four million tonnes per year of U.S. thermal coal by rail through White Rock, South Surrey and Delta, adding one extra coal train per day.
“We’re very pleased with the port’s decision,” said Fraser Surrey Docks CEO Jeff Scott.
Coal opponents predict the project will never be economical, although it has reduced its expected operating costs with the move to loading directly to ships.
The shift away from barge loading removed one of the objections of opponents – that coal dust from open barges would be more prone to wafting out into neighbourhoods and the environment.
It also increased the project cost to $42 million because of the need to install a taller ship loader.
An estimated 80 Panamax-size ships would haul coal out each year, instead of 640 barge loads.
The province has been leaving Richmond out of the loop on this project for some time and Mayor Malcolm Brodie has been vocal about his displeasure over this. Interestingly enough, he wasn’t at the press conference today and some speculated on social media he hadn’t been invited. But hey, it’s never too late to reverse a mistake that was made…right?
Sometimes, you can go back and reverse a mistake that has been made…but as Harper learned the hard way, it’s better to avoid making them in the first place.
And that’s why this statement matters. Because sometimes,Ms. Clark, it is too late to fix things that sadly, can’t be fixed.
*I’ll be taking it easy over the Christmas season, but will still be around and will likely share some more relaxing, inspiring posts with you too.
See you soon!