Conservative Party candidate Tanya Corbet has committed to get the ball rolling on the George Massey Tunnel replacement project if she’s elected MP for Delta.
Speaking to about 50 supporters in her Tsawwassen campaign office Saturday morning (Sept. 14), Corbet pledged to convene a summit within 100 days of being elected to bring provincial, regional, municipal and First Nations leaders together with the goal of “reaching a clear road map for moving forward with the George Massey Tunnel [replacement project].”
“When the provincial government made the political decision to put the brakes on building a replacement for the George Massey Tunnel, they turned their back on Delta. Now, not only is the traffic bottleneck a daily frustration for commuters, the backup at the tunnel also has a negative impact on our economy because it makes it more difficult for Canadian businesses to get their product to market,” Corbet said.
“Despite the hard fought efforts of mayors, councillors, MLA’s and chiefs, there remains no cohesive plan to replace the tunnel. The federal government has done nothing to merge these efforts and to provide leadership to address the traffic conditions,” she continued. “The Trudeau Liberals have dropped the ball on this file; I will pick it up and provide the necessary federal leadership to get it moving again. Because it’s time for change, it’s time for a local leader to roll up their sleeves and work hard for the issues facing our community in Delta.”
Corbet cited her experience in community, business and local politics, specifically with the Tsawwassen First Nation, as an example of why she is the best candidate to advocate for the needs of Delta. Corbet, who is a TFN member and former elected executive councillor, has worked for the TFN government for 20 years, including holding key roles with the treaty team and the TFN Economic Development Corporation.
“We negotiated the first modern treaty under the B.C. Treaty Commission process, which set the stage for tremendous growth and economic growth, and as a result of this work our nation is becoming self-reliant and prosperous and a meaningful contributor to this regional economy. This is the type of leadership that I bring to the table, and it’s the kind of leadership Delta needs,” Corbet said.
After her speech on Saturday, Corbet told the Reporter that despite the Massey Tunnel being a provincially-owned piece of infrastructure, she believes the federal government should be providing a leadership role so as to “break through those silos and make sure that people are working together for the best interests of not just residents but also for the economy.”
“That’s definitely step one, to get people in the room, engaged, talking and trying to figure out a clear road map forward.”
Corbet stopped short, however, of saying the federal government should be involved in the replacement project itself.
“I believe it needs to be a made-local solution and not something that Ottawa imposes into the community,” she said. “It has to be a project that is built from the community and with community input, because this is in the community. But just to facilitate, to get everybody together, is important.”
Liberal Party candidate and incumbent MP for Delta Carla Qualtrough rejected Corbet’s assertion that the federal government has dropped the ball, saying the ball is instead in the provincial government’s court.
“My position on this has been very clear from the beginning: we desperately need a new crossing and we need it now. In fact, we needed it years ago. And to say that I haven’t been working on this file is completely erroneous,” Qualtrough told the Reporter Tuesday. “I have spent so much time, I have dedicated so much of my effort to this file.
“Listen, I was the mom who commuted back and forth through the tunnel every day before I was elected in 2015 and I know that feeling in your stomach of uncertainty and anxiety when you don’t know if you’re going to be home in time to pick up your kids at daycare. And so when I got elected I really focused on this very squarely. I have met with stakeholders — all stakeholders I would say, whether it’s local government, the province, transit experts, service providers, user groups, engineers — I’ve met with anybody who will meet with me about this, trying to find a way.”
Qualtrough said she arranged for the federal infrastructure minister to tour the tunnel with herself and Delta Mayor George Harvie, and sent a letter to B.C. Premier John Horgan in May that reiterated how desperately a new crossing is needed and informed him of “significant funding for infrastructure improvements” that the federal government had set aside for projects like the Massey Tunnel replacement.
“There’s money on the table from the federal government for projects just like this. Our infrastructure investment of $180 billion is focused on this exact type of project, and all the province has to do is identify it as a priority, ask the federal government for money and I’ve lined all the ducks up,” Qualtrough said. “The infrastructure minister knows the project, everybody is on board, we understand the value of this important trade corridor to our country and to our region, and also to families here in Delta.
“So it concerns me when the Conservative candidate goes so far as to say we’ve done nothing, but that’s just ego. What really matters is, for her to say that she will restart this project is dangerous, because we don’t need to waste any more time on this [and] it also risks undermining all the work that’s been done by local leaders. Whether it’s myself, or MLA Ian Paton, or Mayor George Harvie, everybody has been working really hard on this. So we need to get it done, we don’t need to have another meeting … we need the province to step up, identify this as a priority, ask for federal money and let the process begin.”
The federal election takes place on Monday, Oct. 21. So far five candidates have announced their intentions to run in Delta: Randy Anderson-Fennell (New Democratic Party), Tanya Corbet (Conservative Party of Canada), Craig DeCraene (Green Party of Canada), Angelina Ireland (People’s Party of Canada) and Carla Qualtrough (Liberal Party of Canada).