British Columbia

Metro Vancouver board confirms support for new 8-lane Massey tunnel

Plans for the new immersed-tube tunnel connecting Richmond and Delta include two lanes that would be dedicated to public transit.

Board also passes budget for 2020, average with $33 increase in regional property tax levy per household

The George Massey Tunnel is now 60 years old. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The Metro Vancouver board has confirmed its support for an eight-lane tunnel to replace the current Massey crossing. 

During a meeting on Friday, regional directors also voted to ask the province for plans to address congestion along the Highway 99 corridor. 

Plans for the new immersed-tube tunnel connecting Richmond and Delta include two lanes that would be dedicated to public transit. The province is expected to develop a business plan for the project over the next year.

The existing George Massey Tunnel is now 60 years old and does not meet current seismic standards.

The previous B.C. Liberal government started preliminary work in 2017 on a 10-lane bridge to replace the tunnel, but the New Democrats cancelled the $3.5 billion project shortly after they were elected.

A sub-committee of Metro Vancouver mayors recommended the tunnel option at a meeting in October.

2020 budget also passes

The board also passed its budget for the upcoming year, with expenses increasing from $836.4 million in 2019 to $890.1 million in 2020.

It means the regional levy on property taxes for the average Metro Vancouver home will increase by $33, from $535 to $568.

And, due mostly to projected population growth or planned infrastructure upgrades and sustainability initiatives, the average cost of the regional levy would go up an additional $200 in four years, to $768 by 2024. 

Several mayors and councillors expressed some misgivings about the projected increases over the next five years, but  Langley councillor Kim Richter was the only board member to vote against some sections of the budget. 

"I'm going to vote for this one, but I'm hoping in the next couple of months … that this body will engage in a very healthy discussion around alternate revenue sources," said Pitt Meadows Mayor Bill Dingwall.

Metro Vancouver Board Chair Sav Dhaliwal said they would look at ways to lower projected costs, but it would be difficult.

"The change between now and five years is enormous, but it also is keeping in line with what we project the population of the region is going to be," he said.

"It's very difficult for us to at this point make changes to the projects that we have started a few years ago." 

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