British Columbia

Delta mayoral candidates debate Massey Tunnel replacement as key election issue

The future of the George Massey Tunnel is still a big question mark and something all three mayoral candidates in the City of Delta are emphasizing on the campaign trail.

Each week until election day, CBC’s The Early Edition looks at a key issue in different municipalities

The future of the George Massey Tunnel has become a major election issue in Delta. (CBC )

The future of the George Massey Tunnel is still a big question mark and something all three mayoral candidates in the City of Delta are emphasizing on the campaign trail.

Each week until election day on Oct. 20, CBC's The Early Edition is looking at a key issue in different municipalities that voters want to see addressed.

"We're just in constant gridlock during rush hour trying to get north or south," said Mary Lynn Burke, a member of the Delta Seniors Planning Team who lives near the tunnel.

"If there is an accident or a stall in the tunnel, everything comes to a grinding halt."

A year ago, the NDP government cancelled the plan to replace the Massey Tunnel — that connects Delta to the rest of the Lower Mainland — with a 10 lane, $3.5 billion bridge.

So far, no concrete plans are in place to address the aging tunnel.

All three mayoral candidates — Jim Cessford (left), Sylvia Bishop (middle) and George Harvie (right) — are addressing congestion as a key election issue. (Clare Hennig/CBC)

Candidates' thoughts

"This tunnel is 60 years old," said George Harvie, a former city manager and candidate with Achieving for Delta.

"If you look up, you'll see netting —  the concrete is failing. It's a real risk to our first responders."

He said a bridge is his first option and something that requires both provincial and federal support.

Until the bridge is built, he said, other projects causing congestion should be reconsidered.

"If there is any thought of expanding the Deltaport, which there is, I don't support that until the infrastructure to support the existing volumes from the Deltaport — and how it feeds into our business and supply chain — is corrected," he said.

An artist's rendering of the proposed bridge to replace the George Massey tunnel. (CBC)

Jim Cessford, a former Delta police chief and candidate with Independents Working for You, said his plans for congestion comes from personal experience.

"From a first responder perspective, I would really, really prefer the bridge," he said, citing difficulties dealing with emergencies and evacuating injured people from the tunnel.

"We do need to act now. We have to get something going with the bridge  — we have to have a crossing and replacement for the tunnel without question."

Immediate solutions

For Sylvia Bishop, a former councillor and candidate with Team Delta, the need for an immediate solution is the most important consideration.

"Congestion at either end of the tunnel must be relieved. We cannot wait for some megaproject to be completed in five or six years from now," she said.

She plans to look at other solutions, like increasing public transportation, while the longer term infrastructure decisions are being weighed.

"We could relieve congestion by taking people out of their cars onto buses, and we could do that now while the mega project is decided on."

With files from The Early Edition.

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