CKYE (RED FM Surrey)
CKYE Harjinder Thind
Harjinder Thind: Mr Falcon, good morning.
Kevin Falcon: Good morning, Harjinder. How are you?
Thind: Very good. Thank you very much for joining us.
Falcon: Thank you. A pleasure to be here.
Thind: So what’s your feedback on Massey Tunnel expansion announcement made by the Transport minister? Yesterday he was saying it’ll take probably nine years, nine to ten years.
Falcon: I think the NDP make a lot of very, very bad decisions, not because they’re bad people, but just because they don’t know what they’re doing, but this is possibly the worst decision I have ever seen and I was Transportation minister for six years. I built a lot of bridges, I built a lot of infrastructure — SFPR, the Port Mann Bridge, the Sea to Sky Highway, the Canada Line. This is the worst decision I have ever seen and I’ll tell you why.
Let me just take a minute here. The BC Liberals had already started construction on a ten-lane bridge. They had already spent $100m on the earthworks and piling up the sand and some of the early work that you have to do. The ten-lane bridge would have had two dedicated lanes for buses, meaning that there was four lanes in each direction for commuter traffic and for our truckers. It was also designed to allow future rapid transit. But what a lot of people also forget is it would improve interchanges on both sides and it would also widen 24 kilometres of Hwy 99, and it had a very modest environmental impact.
And so that project was budgeted at $3.5b. It went through a very competitive procurement process and the winning bid was $2.6b. That’s $900m lower than the $3.5b budget. I have to tell you something, Harjinder, because yesterday on the Michael Smyth Show the minister, Rob Fleming, said, when he was pressed by Michael Smyth, about that $900m savings on the bridge they cancelled, he said that that wasn’t true, that there was no procurement or bids on that bridge. That is a completely false statement and he’s either lying or he just doesn’t understand what happened in his own ministry, because there were three groups that were bidding for that project, some of the largest companies in North America, and they did have a winning bid $900m lower. The paperwork — government has all that paperwork, I’ve seen it, and I think it’s very unfortunate that they’re just not telling the truth about something so important.
So that’s what we could have had and that bridge would have been opened by summer next year. Instead, what the NDP are going to do is build an eight-lane tunnel. What your listeners need to know is two of those lanes will be dedicated for buses and that means that there will be three lanes in each direction. Today, as we speak, there are cars and traffic going throgh the Massey Tunnel with the counterflow lane open and they have exactly three lanes, and we all know how crowded and congested the traffic is with those three lanes, but that is what the NDP is going to deliver. They’re going to deliver the same number of lanes that we have today, it’s going to be $2b more expensive, we won’t see it for almost a decade, and it’s going to have more environmental impact and it’s going to be more dangerous for our truckers that are trying to transport fuels and flammable liquids, etc. So everything about it makes absolutely no sense at all and it just, to me, is a staggering level of incompetence.
Thind: But they’re telling me that they’ve rejected your proposed bridge because there was a toll fee on it and people don’t want toll fee.
Falcon: Nonsense. They just know that’s not true. There was not a toll on that bridge, nor was a toll proposed for that bridge and remember, they also opposed the Port Mann Bridge, too. I just want to remind everyone of this. The NDP fought and opposed the ten-lane Port Mann Bridge and so I don’t want to in any way try and pretend that these are people that have made investments. They are replacing the Pattullo Bridge and they’re going to spend over $2b to replace the bridge and not add one single new lane. Can you imagine this, Harjinder? They’re going to spend $2b and we’re going to have the same four-lane bridge. I can’t even make this stuff up. It’s very, very disturbing to me.
Thind: So the public feedback taken before construction was given a green light by the BC Liberal government. Was it?
Falcon: All the environmental assessments, they’ve gone through all the consultation processes, everybody got to have their say, including the local mayors, and, admittedly, the mayor of Richmond was opposed, he preferred a tunnel, but the mayors of Surrey and Delta were very supportive of moving the project forward. And the NDP say, oh well, we’re doing tunnels because some of the mayors prefer to tunnel. Well, that’s not leadership. I can tell you some of the mayors opposed me when I was building the Canada Line because they didn’t like the route that I was going and they thought I should use different technology and they thought it should be light rail.
Leadership is about making decisions. Leadership is about listening to everyone and then saying OK, I’ve heard everybody, but we’re making this decision because it’s the right decision for the public.
Thind: But they said they have listened to everybody and every mayor was opposed to it. Mayors’ council did not have the blessing for the bridge, that’s why they said they have changed. Now he told me yesterday, the minister, that now we got the blessing of the mayors’ council. How important is mayors’ council?
Falcon: Exactly. This is the problem and this is why I told the story about the Canada Line. There were many projects I did, including the Port Mann Bridge and the Canada Line, that the mayors’ councils were opposed to — many mayors, not all. The good mayors of Surrey, etc, were supportive, but there were many mayors that opposed these decisions. But the difference is I’m a leader and what leaders do is they listen to all the conversation, they listen to the mayors, but at the end of the day my job is to make a decision in the best interests of the public, the public at large, not just mayors, but the public. And that’s why we have a Port Mann Bridge today, that’s why we have a Canada Line, that’s why we have a South Fraser Perimeter Road, because all of those projects were opposed by various mayors on the mayors’ council.
Thind: In 2017, when the bridge was put on halt, how much money you guys have already spent on this project?
Falcon: That is what really, really hurts because all your listeners out there need to know that $100m was already spent on that bridge project when the NDP cancelled it. And this is very important — they cancelled it even though they had a winning bid in place that was $900m lower than the $3.5b dollar budget. It’s a level of irresponsibility that I almost have difficulty describing because not only did they waste $100m we’ll never get back on all the dirt that you see piled up along the 99 there, just prior to the tunnel, but they also left a $2.6b bid that could have had that bridge opening next year and instead we’re going to wait for almost ten years to get the same number of lanes that we have now.
So I want everyone to hear this. This is very important. If I become leader of the BC Liberal Party, that tunnel is going to get cancelled if we form government.
Thind: OK, make it clear. If your party wins that election, again, and you become the premier then you will cancel this even if the construction has started? They will make sure that prior to the next election they’ll do the same thing what Christy Clark. They probably have already $100m spent on it. Then you’re going to do the same thing, what they did?
Falcon: No. First of all, they won’t have it started because they’re incompetent and the other thing you have to know is that they are going to spend at least four years going through an environmental assessment process, and trust me, I know about environmental assessment processes. They take years and you cannot put eight tunnels into the Fraser River estuary, which is a salmon stream, which has sturgeon, which has all kinds of environmental sensibilities, without going through years worth of environmental assessment.
So they will not get this started. That’s why I feel confident. They will waste money on an environmental assessment, yes, that is true, but I want to be very clear. If Kevin Falcon becomes leader of the BC Liberal Party and becomes the next premier of the province I will kill that silly idea as quickly as I can and we’ll get back to dusting off the ten-lane bridge and get that thing built.
Thind: Kevin Falcon, thank you very much for your talk and your time and also one more thing I have on my mind. I have spoken to the Transportation minister also — is there a possibility, because you have built many bridges, like you said, you were a Minister of Transport for a long time — is there possibility of building a bridge from mainland to Vancouver Island, because in Hong Kong and other areas there are long bridges being built. If built, is it advantages or it’s a bad idea?
Falcon: That idea has been around for a long time. I actually looked at that idea while I was Minister of Transportation. You’re probably talking in the range of $15b. It’s a very expensive project and there are potential environmental impacts, there are visual impacts. We have such a beautiful, beautiful area here in British Columbia that a large bridge going across the water is something that a lot of people wouldn’t like to see.
So I think on balance it was difficult to make an economic case for doing that. So I think I would want to look at other alternatives that are more effective.
Thind: But you will cancel this tunnel in the event you become the next premier? Is it true?