Bridge and coal

The Liberal government wants to build a new bridge over the mouth of the Fraser River. Why should that concern us here in the Okanagan? Here’s the story.

The Liberal government recently upgraded the George Massey tunnel under the Fraser and promised to build another one for $600 million.

But wait. Coal companies in the U.S. are trying to sell as much of their dusty, dirty, greenhouse gas producing coal as they can before everyone is using renewable energy.

People in west coast American ports recognized the problem and banned coal from their ports. So the U.S. companies are shipping their coal through Vancouver and Surrey ports. But wait. The George Massey tunnel and its twin are in the way of the giant Panama-class ore carriers coming up the Fraser River to the coal ports. So the Liberal government changed its mind and now wants to build a $3 to 4 billion bridge.

Here is where it affects people in the Okanagan. The bridge is a private public partnership. Part of the agreement is if tolls from the bridge aren’t high enough to pay the private investors, (like what happened on the new Port Mann), then the provincial taxpayers, that’s us in the Okanagan, make up the difference (like what happened on the Port Mann). So we in the Okanagan, who need better bus service between our cities end up paying instead for a bridge that nobody wants, except some investors somewhere and coal producers in the U.S.

Bill Darnell