The Provincial Government has recently posted a Request for Qualifications with the hope of identifying three contractors to develop detailed proposals to construct the South Fraser Perimeter Road.
The residents of Delta would like interested contractors to be aware of the facts that are not in the Ministry of Transportation's documents:
1. BURNS BOG PROTECTED BY COVENANT: The proposed highway route travels through Burns Bog which is protected by a legal covenant. This covenant binds the Provincial and Federal government from taking any actions that might damage the bog. Once this covenant has been upheld by the courts, those who breach it will be threatened with arrest and jail, including construction personnel and management.
2. ABORIGINAL SITES: The proposed highway route travels through 8,000 year old first nations sites that are home to the remains of villages and burial grounds. First Nations including the Squamish, the Musqueam, the Tsawwassen and the Semiahmoo bands all have land claims in the area and have not consented to the destruction of these burial grounds and archaeological remains.
3. North Delta Bluffs: The North Delta Bluffs, from River Road and Centre Street to River Road and the Surrey Fraser Docks, is an area of very unstable slopes. The railway at the bottom of the slope has to patrol this area regularly to detect slides on the tracks. The Ministry of Transportation did not include geotechnical information in their original application for the Environmental Assessment because they could not get permission from the Railway to access this land. Construction of a new 4-lane highway through these bluffs will be expensive and dangerous. There are also seven salmon-bearing streams flowing down these bluffs and Fisheries officials will be watching construction closely.
4. Courts will protect the Bog from polluters:
Linked below are some court rulings where a company and their owners
ended up with jail time because they dumped waste at
the edge of the bog - exactly where construction of the four lane
highway is planned.
5. Political Risks: The timeline for concluding this agreement with the Ministry of Transportation crosses over the date of the next Provincial Election. A lot of time and energy could be invested in developing a proposal for this highway, only to have a new government change the direction of transportation planning in favour of public transit and environmentally sensitive routes.
6. Ongoing Maintenance Challenges: The Ministry is
looking for a contractor willing to also provide ongoing maintenance for
the highway for 30 years. Challenges will include:
- Roadway settling on the bog lands
- North Delta bluffs settling and slides
- Cleanup in environmentally sensitive areas of bogs and salmon bearing streams