Delta Folk fed up with being bullied
FIGHTING BACK: Council, residents ready to battle B.C. government
If a bully pushes long enough and hard enough, sometimes the one who’s bullied begins pushing back aggressively.
That’s now happening in Delta, where two B.C. government-backed infrastructure projects that have met strong public opposition are reaching a critical stage.
A recently-completed final report by B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office on the proposed $1-billion South Fraser Perimeter Road is now in the hands of Gordon Campbell’s government, which must decide within weeks whether or not to grant the project an environmental certificate.
This would give the final go-ahead for construction of the 40-kilometre, four-lane, container-truck freeway that has been designed to serve Deltaport expansion by linking it to Highway 1 in Surrey.
But the freeway’s current route will consume a significant amount of Delta farmland, seriously impact environmentally sensitive Burns Bog — aka “the lungs of the Lower Mainland” — and has already led to the expropriation of some homes and businesses.
Equally serious concerns have also been raised about the increase in particulate pollution from increased diesel-truck traffic.
A less-intrusive route option has been flatly rejected by Victoria.
Project critics, meanwhile, have more immediate concerns over what they say are serious flaws in the just-completed environmental review.
And now this group of critics includes councillors who serve on Delta municipality’s environmental advisory committee.
In a report to council last week, the committee said the environmental review left some issues not fully addressed.
It cited as an example the impact of future development by the Tsawwassen First Nation at the port, which could increase the number of trucks travelling the perimeter road.
The report also expressed concerns that a new route-realignment for part of the road near Burns Bog would not be subject to a public review, even though that realignment is “significant.”
Consequently, the committee’s report recommended that Delta ask its municipal solicitor to provide a legal opinion on whether there are sufficient grounds for a judicial review of the environmental-review process.
Last week, Delta council voted to support that recommendation, even though launching such a review can be costly.
While Delta explores its legal options, one of the neighbourhood groups that will be severely impacted by the perimeter road is preparing to do some serious pushing of its own.
In a letter to Environment Minister Barry Penner, the Sunbury Neighbourhood Association has outlined its concerns over the “incomplete and misleading” information it says is contained in the environmental review.
SNA president Don Hunt told me that his group is also talking to residents who have been fighting construction of upgraded high-voltage power lines through their Tsawwassen neighbourhood.
He says the goal is to take both issues beyond Delta’s borders.
“The individual projects may be different, but the public-policy issue is the same,” says Cec Dunn of Tsawwassen Residents Against High-Voltage Overhead Lines.
“Both environmental-review processes are a sham, and it’s this ram-it-down-your-throats approach by Victoria that we both don’t like.” If you have a noteworthy item about the Fraser Valley, e-mail