Thumbs down to Gateway
By Dan Ferguson, Staff Reporter
Delta councillors have again refused to endorse the $3-billion Gateway Program, balking at a staff report that suggested council should say it "generally" supports the program, though not without reservations about the impact of the South Fraser Perimeter Road (SFPR) on farmland, businesses and residential neighbourhoods as well as the environmentally sensitive Burns Bog.
Even that considerably qualified support was more than any member of council could vote for last Monday.
"I cannot bring myself to do that," Coun. Robert Campbell said, adding "it (Gateway) needs a sober second look at every level."
Coun. Scott Hamilton said Gateway is imposing a design that will have widespread effect on noise, pollution and views, especially in North Delta, where lobbying for an underground road has been rejected by Gateway planners.
"When I add all these up, it points to a tunnel," Hamilton said.
Coun. Krista Engelland slammed Gateway for a "top-down" process that doesn't respect local concerns.
Coun. Vicki Huntington agreed, saying, "I continue to believe there are other and better ways to move containers through this community."
It was the second attempt at reaching a consensus after a previous draft of the proposed position paper was rejected by council and sent back to be re-worked earlier this month.
In the end, council was able to approve the position paper after a quick rewrite removed any reference to support at all and said instead "should this project succeed, the following issues should be addressed," and then listed concerns about the SFPR's impact on park land, farm land, neighbourhoods and the bog.
Mayor Lois Jackson remained pessimistic about the possibility Delta will be able to change the direction of the massive transportation project.
"We can make all the recommendations we want," Jackson said, "but let us be honest, the provincial government has their mandate, and they will carry it out no matter what we say. The time for consultation is over, in my opinion.
"Gateway still has the cards and we are a side player, again."
The planned $800-million SFPR truck route would run along the south bank of the Fraser River from Deltaport to 176 Street and the future Golden Ears Bridge.
It's a major part of the $3-billion Gateway program to unclog the region's congested traffic, which also includes $1.5 billion to twin the Port Mann Bridge and widen Highway 1, and $400 million to build the North Fraser Perimeter Road through Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows and New Westminster including a new Mary Hill interchange and a new six-lane Pitt River bridge.
Surrey city council recently gave Gateway its qualified support, expressing concern about the possible impact on traffic if the planned new Port Mann carries tolls for motorists and the Pattullo Bridge doesn't.