The City of Delta could take on replacing the George Massey Tunnel without help from the province, if it finds a suitable funding partner.
That was the conclusion of a series of meetings that Delta undertook with the federal Ministry of Transportation, as well as Ministry of Public Services and Procurement, in early June.
Mayor Lois Jackson, police chief Neil Dubord and acting city manager Ken Kunz attended the meetings to discuss the national economic importance of the river crossing, and the need for a new bridge as soon as possible. Tsawwassen First Nation’s chief Bryce Williams was also present, and commented on the importance of the crossing to his community, as well as safety concerns around the tunnel.
“All we have to do is find a funding partner,” Jackson said during council on July 16. “And it doesn’t have to be the provincial government who let us down badly.”
In September 2017, construction of the George Massey Tunnel replacement bridge was put on hold as the new NDP government undertook an independent technical review of the project.
The review was intended to look at the lifespan, safety, seismic vulnerability and current congestion of the tunnel, as well as the technical information already produced for the replacement project. The review was expected to be complete by spring 2018, but has yet to be released to the public.
Until the review is complete, the tunnel replacement will stay in a state of limbo.
According to a staff report about the meeting, it’s possible a new bridge could be federally funded under the National Trade Corridors Fund, if the city could find a funding partner to support the project.
In some ways, this could be an echo of the original plan for the bridge, which would have seen joint investment from the federal government and the provincial government. In March of 2017, Delta MP Carla Qualtrough told council the province had decided to receive low-cost financing from the feds, rather than an infrastructure investment.
“Maybe that’s our next project, looking to find a partner,” Jackson said at council. “It could be anybody. It could be another country, it could be a pension fund, it could be an investment company. Who knows? Maybe it’s even the company that’s going to build it — I don’t know.
“But that came through, and I was absolutely delighted to hear we have another option to help people from our community and the other communities.”
The federal meetings in June also included discussions with other federal ministries on topics such as cannabis legalization, local channel dredging, dikes and Canada’s national public alerting system.