More public support for fair tolls than Massey Bridge

Todd Stone claims strong backing for tunnel replacement, 44 per cent want lower tolls or tolls on all bridges

Feedback on the Massey Tunnel replacement shows substantial but qualified public support to both build the proposed new bridge and to impose tolls of some sort to pay for it.

That’s the conclusion of a report released Wednesday by the province on the latest round of public and stakeholder consultations.

The findings also suggest considerable support for tolling policy reform – potentially by tolling all bridges in order to achieve a lower toll at the Massey – and that sentiment eclipses unconditional support for the new bridge itself.

Of 874 respondents who filled out feedback forms at public meetings or online, 44 per cent gave conditional support for Massey tolling, but with either a lower toll or tolls on all bridges.

Another 13 per cent supported a standard Port Mann-type toll at the new Massey Bridge as proposed, while 22 per cent opposed tolling entirely and 14 per cent wanted other funding sources used.

RELATED:No rush on bridge toll reform debate: StoneMetro Vancouver politicians want feds to scrutinize Massey bridge plan$3.5 billion Massey Bridge will come with tolls

Vancouver residents were more likely to back tolls, while Richmond residents typically said they could accept it if all bridges were tolled at a lower rate. Tolling opposition was strongest in Delta.

Of the 664 respondents who gave an opinion on the project as a whole, 24 per cent were generally supportive, while 31 per cent indicated conditional support and 10 per cent were generally opposed, the report says.

“Many participants suggested that tolling should be applied in the context of a regional tolling policy,” the report said.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone acknowledged tolling reform is a discussion that needs to begin, but noted the Massey Bridge won’t open until 2022.

“We welcome the feedback people have about tolling, about mobility pricing,” he told reporters.

“This is not a subject that needs to be rushed in the next week or two or month,” Stone said. “We actually have about a five-year window of opportunity to have a broad based discussion with people in the region about what people want.”

The report also flags significant public concerns that the project will increase congestion at the Oak Street Bridge, a scenario Stone says is not borne out by traffic projections.

He also defended the environmental benefits of the project from reduced idling, which critics hotly contest.

Richmond Coun. Harold Steves said the province had poised to add another tunnel until apparent pressure from the port authority in 2012 led to the bridge plan.

He argues a tunnel expansion would be far cheaper.

“Why are we spending $3.5 billion for a bridge when the (previous) plan would have been about half a billion?”

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson says the notion that the port is behind the bridge plan to allow bigger ships up the Fraser River is a myth.

The new bridge would be no higher than the Alex Fraser Bridge, she said, so it would make no difference to enabling bigger ships to get to upriver industrial areas.

Upriver shipping with deeper draft vessels would also require the costly relocation of underwater sewer and water lines, she added.

Jackson recently proposed reduced tolls on all bridges and said she hopes the public response will nudge the province toward an earlier fair tolling solution.

“What it would do is allow people to use the Port Mann and the Golden Ears with more frequency rather than going around,” she said. “Think about doing this sooner than later and allow those two bridges to be used to capacity with a lower toll.”

The Tsawwassen First Nation has also come out in support of the new bridge, saying access to and from TFN lands depend on a new bridge that can handle future growth.

Chief Bryce Williams said he will expect a rigorous environmental assessment and community consultations to ensure the project minimizes impacts on the Fraser River fishery, as well as TFN territory and treaty rights.

Massey – Phase 3 Consultation Summary Report March 2016

Just Posted

Tonight’s Surrey RCMP Classic final: Cloverdale and South Surrey school teams to battle

Elsewhere, Holy Cross boys team aims to win another BC Catholics championship on home court

Surrey RCMP asks for public’s help in finding missing 14-year-old

Police say Ali Al-Shai was last seen on Jan. 16

Province to pass $1.25-million repair bill for South Surrey overpass on to ICBC

152 Street overpass was struck by overheight truck on Dec. 4, 2017

Ex-Mountie who investigated ‘Surrey six’ murders gets conditional sentence

Derek Brassington pleaded guilty in B.C. Supreme Court on Friday

How fallen Surrey Mountie’s Stetson ended up in Europe puzzles police

Constable Terry Draginda’s hat is repatriated after being found at a flea market in Hamburg, Germany

Self serve doggy-wash poised to change dog grooming industry

Add money, start spraying to wash dog in the K9000

Giants wrap southern swing with 6-4 win in Spokane

The Lower Mainland-based hockey team defeated the Chiefs Friday night.

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Federal Liberals announce former B.C. MLA as new candidate in byelection

Richard Lee will face off against federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh

No winning ticket in $10 million Lotto Max jackpot

No win in Friday night’s draw means the next Lotto Max draw will be approximately $17 million

Scientists ID another possible threat to orcas: pink salmon

For two decades, significantly more of the whales have died in even-numbered years than in odd years

Burnaby byelection turmoil sparks debate about identity issues in politics

The Liberals still have not said whether they plan to replace Wang, who stepped aside Wednesday

B.C. woman planned to donate a kidney to her husband, then found out she has cancer

Richard Stuart needs a kidney, his wife Tracy has been diagnosed with cancer

Most Read