Sunbury Neighbourhood Association

Letter to Chambers of Commerce:

March 3, 2006

Dear Chamber Members:

We all understand the importance of a proper infrastructure for the movement of goods and people. And the SFPR is recognized as an important link between two federally mandated ports, as well as connecting the Tsawwassen ferry terminal, Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands to Hwy #1. The trouble is..... the current plans for the SFPR run through an old and established neighbourhood as well as irreplaceable wildlife habitat.

The Sunbury Neighbourhood Association has put forth a tunnel proposal that is a 'win/win' situation for everybody. We have provided options that protect the environment, people's health, air quality, and livability, while saving heritage, habitat, and archaeology, as well as providing a route that saves time and fuel costs by being a straighter, more level alignment. Add to this the job creation and economic spinoffs, and we have an option that is environmentally and business friendly, costing more up front but providing for more economic benefit in the long run.  On top of this, it has the ability to start construction much sooner without any disruption of traffic. 

The attached document explains the process in more detail, and is provided to you for information purposes. We look forward to your support for this common-sense option.

Please don't hesitate to call or e-mail if you have any questions.

Don Hunt, Sunbury Neighbhourhood Association


The South Fraser Perimeter Road has been called the most important highway link in Canada, by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. This Project should be built as a legacy for the future. Built with vision...looking ahead 50 to 100 yrs, not just to 2031 as Gateway is doing. In Delta, the South Fraser Perimeter Road is being planned through Environmental Reserves, and through the sensitive North edge of Burns Bog, which house many threatened and endangered species. In most of the Lower Mainland and cities around the world, waterfront property and environmentally sensitive habitat are being protected or reclaimed. In North Delta, Gateway's plans call for the bisecting of several environmental reserves, expropriating up to 75 waterfront view homes and the eviction of pioneer families, and their heritage homes from one of the founding neighbourhoods in British Columbia. The SFPR will directly affect 24 delta parks and related areas, including seven sensitive ravines, four of which are environmental reserves. The Highway section close to the Alex Fraser Bridge would be a raised viaduct, 25 ft off the ground, blocking the river and mountain views of the houses on the hillside. Sunbury-Annieville is a quiet residential neighbourhood surrounded by federally and provincially recognized wildlife habitat. This is no place for a major highway.

Looking at all the options should not be limited by construction costs. The hidden costs of losing irreplaceable riparian habitat and Canadian heritage outweigh the added construction costs of doing the job the right way, and in the right place. The Sunbury Neighbourhood Association has proposed several tunnel options to Gateway that make for a shorter, faster, and safer route, that will not only save time, and fuel, but will pay for itself over time. Gateway’s projected costs in 2001 were $161 million for the highway section from Elevator Road to the Alex Fraser Bridge, and $400 million for the same distance in tunnel. A difference of $239 million. Gateway will tell you that the tunnel costs are more than double that of the same section of highway. We’ve spoken with engineers who say that tunneling costs for the North Delta escarpment would not be prohibitive. The material, (called Newton Till), is a clay and shale base that would be easy to dig. Factor in the fuel savings of a straighter more level route, the time savings, the health care, tax dollar and property value savings. Add to that the protection of priceless wildlife habitat and an internationally recognized archaeological site that dates back over 9,000 years and the difference between the two options suddenly favours the tunnel. Another consideration is that some of the tunnel boring machines that dug the ‘Chunnel’ between England and France were built in Richmond, BC. Tunneling here would mean job creation and related spin-offs in at least three municipalities.

The Sunbury Neighbourhood Association has looked into the concerns mentioned about tunneling: Dangerous goods: TCI International at Delta Port, reports that less than 1% of TEUs, (containers), contain dangerous goods. A lot of those are moved by train, and we think the balance could be barged around. The Fraser River is a very unused river for its size. Another concern is tunneling under residential homes. Tunneling under residential areas is being done in the Lower Mainland already. There is a train tunnel under a section of North Burnaby and most of the residents don’t even know it is there. The RAV line, now called the Canada line, will be a tunnel from Waterfront Station at Coal Harbour, under downtown and False Creek to come out at 64th and Cambie. Some will be cut & cover, but most will be a bore tunnel. The newly proposed extension of the Skytrain Line through Port Moody and Coquitlam will also be part tunnel.

We propose a 3-bore tunnel under North Delta. Traffic lanes in two bores, relocate the train in one and take back the foreshore as a strip park with a bicycle/walking path. The bicycle path would connect the existing trail from Tsawwassen that runs along Mud Bay and the Delta Nature Reserve and currently ends under the Alex Fraser Bridge, extending it through to Brownsville, over to New Westminster, and up both sides of the Fraser River.

This is forward thinking that protects our heritage, our livability and people’s desire to have wildlife areas and bicycling/walking paths connecting all regions. Wildlife and recreational activities generate millions of dollars annually in commerce, millions of dollars in taxes, thousands of jobs and over $1.5 billion to the G.D.P.

One tunnel proposal is a 3.5 km tunnel that starts back before Grace Road, with Grace Road becoming an overpass to Elevator Road. River Road would come down out of Annieville and lie on top of the tunnel to connect up with Regal and old River Road to be maintained as a residential street with a truck ban. Zero expropriation of homes.
The tunnel, for the most part, would run under River Road, traversing under the ravine, staying quite deep and continuing under Nordel to come out at the Highway 91/Nordel Interchange. This option lines up with the gas and electric right-of-way and the SFPR as it comes along the north side of the Bog. This provides a straighter, faster, and shorter alignment; eliminating the planned S-curve and the changes in elevation along the bluffs.

We then began looking at the bigger picture and found that the entire route of the SFPR is fraught with problems. In one of these problem areas, the Bog Society has stated that the north side of the Bog is not a viable option. This position is backed by several biologists. Another option is a tunnel approximately 5 km from Grace Road to 64th lining up with the hydro right-of-way on the south edge of the Bog. It was then pointed out, that the preloading and compacting for a highway along its edge, as well as the added pollution, would adversely affect the bog.

A third option puts a 9 km tunnel from the empty land at Scott Road hill, under Scott Road to a gravel pit at Colebrook at the Hwy 91/99 interchange. This option lines up beautifully with the Hoover/Naas proposal that looks like an excellent option for South Delta (  ). Putting the rail in this tunnel would also align with the White Rock and Crescent Beach groups that want to remove the tracks from along their beaches and move them to 176th.

Combined with the Hover/Naas plan, this would eliminate well over half a million train whistle blasts each year.

We are currently waiting for Gateway to provide a cost comparison of the tunnel and highway options for the North Delta section. We intend to show that their cost estimates don’t include all the socio-economic costs. We intend to show that the actual cost difference is much less than Gateway is making out. Combined with the Hoover/Naas proposal, (which is cheaper by a couple of hundred million dollars and makes the most sense of any proposal I’ve seen for South Delta), our proposal will not be cost prohibitive.

This is an opportunity to put in a proper and safe infrastructure that the federal government has an obligation to pay for. This road is an extension of our National highway to facilitate our federally mandated ports. At the same time the federal government gets to preserve Canadian heritage, and federally protected wildlife habitat. Delta South /Richmond East MP John Cummins and Newton/ North Delta MP Sukh Dhaliwal are going to Ottawa to press the Federal Government for funding for our tunnel, and MLA Guy Gentner is applying pressure in Victoria.

What is being proposed for the North Delta Bluffs and the Burns Bog is ill conceived and without adequate forethought.

In accordance with Delta’s Official Community Plan, the GVRD’s Sustainable Region Initiative, the BC Government’s Ministry of the Environment, Environmental Stewardship Plan, and the Canadian Government’s Environmental, and Heritage initiatives……. It would be irresponsible to run the SFPR along the bluffs of North Delta, or anywhere near Burn’s Bog.

Respectfully submitted,

Don Hunt
Sunbury Neighbourhood Association
Delta, BC



Local Chambers of Commerce:

Delta Chamber of Commerce

Surrey Chamber of Commerce

Richmond Chamber of Commerce

BC Chamber of Commerce