The Massey Tunnel is to be removed when it's replaced with a new bridge over the Fraser River.

More public support for fair tolls than Massey Bridge

Todd Stone claims strong backing for tunnel replacement, 44 per cent want lower tolls or tolls on all bridges

Feedback on the Massey Tunnel replacement shows substantial but qualified public support to both build the proposed new bridge and to impose tolls of some sort to pay for it.

That’s the conclusion of a report released Wednesday by the province on the latest round of public and stakeholder consultations.

The findings also suggest considerable support for tolling policy reform – potentially by tolling all bridges in order to achieve a lower toll at the Massey – and that sentiment eclipses unconditional support for the new bridge itself.

Of 874 respondents who filled out feedback forms at public meetings or online, 44 per cent gave conditional support for Massey tolling, but with either a lower toll or tolls on all bridges.

Another 13 per cent supported a standard Port Mann-type toll at the new Massey Bridge as proposed, while 22 per cent opposed tolling entirely and 14 per cent wanted other funding sources used.

RELATED:No rush on bridge toll reform debate: StoneMetro Vancouver politicians want feds to scrutinize Massey bridge plan$3.5 billion Massey Bridge will come with tolls

Vancouver residents were more likely to back tolls, while Richmond residents typically said they could accept it if all bridges were tolled at a lower rate. Tolling opposition was strongest in Delta.

Of the 664 respondents who gave an opinion on the project as a whole, 24 per cent were generally supportive, while 31 per cent indicated conditional support and 10 per cent were generally opposed, the report says.

“Many participants suggested that tolling should be applied in the context of a regional tolling policy,” the report said.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone acknowledged tolling reform is a discussion that needs to begin, but noted the Massey Bridge won’t open until 2022.

“We welcome the feedback people have about tolling, about mobility pricing,” he told reporters.

“This is not a subject that needs to be rushed in the next week or two or month,” Stone said. “We actually have about a five-year window of opportunity to have a broad based discussion with people in the region about what people want.”

The report also flags significant public concerns that the project will increase congestion at the Oak Street Bridge, a scenario Stone says is not borne out by traffic projections.

He also defended the environmental benefits of the project from reduced idling, which critics hotly contest.

Richmond Coun. Harold Steves said the province had poised to add another tunnel until apparent pressure from the port authority in 2012 led to the bridge plan.

He argues a tunnel expansion would be far cheaper.

“Why are we spending $3.5 billion for a bridge when the (previous) plan would have been about half a billion?”

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson says the notion that the port is behind the bridge plan to allow bigger ships up the Fraser River is a myth.

The new bridge would be no higher than the Alex Fraser Bridge, she said, so it would make no difference to enabling bigger ships to get to upriver industrial areas.

Upriver shipping with deeper draft vessels would also require the costly relocation of underwater sewer and water lines, she added.

Jackson recently proposed reduced tolls on all bridges and said she hopes the public response will nudge the province toward an earlier fair tolling solution.

“What it would do is allow people to use the Port Mann and the Golden Ears with more frequency rather than going around,” she said. “Think about doing this sooner than later and allow those two bridges to be used to capacity with a lower toll.”

The Tsawwassen First Nation has also come out in support of the new bridge, saying access to and from TFN lands depend on a new bridge that can handle future growth.

Chief Bryce Williams said he will expect a rigorous environmental assessment and community consultations to ensure the project minimizes impacts on the Fraser River fishery, as well as TFN territory and treaty rights.

Massey – Phase 3 Consultation Summary Report March 2016

Just Posted

Giants draw first blood in WHL playoff series vs. Victoria

Home ice advantage non-existent for Royals against arch-rival Vancouver

VIDEO: Fire shuts down 232 Street in Langley

Traffic being re-routed following Langley structure fire

No red flags in expense audit, says former Fraser Health boss who fired Murray

Wynne Powell said report showed need for tighter rules, but didn’t suggest abuse of expense claims

Eagles ride hot goaltending, soar to Cup

Langley Eagles use shootout to win final two games, capture Langley bantam Cup

Doggers take down top two teams, capture peewee Langley Cup

Langley peewee hockey team had just one loss since middle of January

Vancouver Aquarium’s resident octopus released into ocean

Staff let the Giant Pacific octopus go into the waters near Bowen Island so she can reproduce

Canucks sing the Blues as they fall to St. Louis 4-1

Berglund nets two, including the game-winner, to lift St. Louis over Vancouver

Calving season brings hope for Cariboo ranchers

Still a lot of work ahead to recover from the wildfires

Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond wins figure skating world title

The 22-year-old fwon the women’s singles crown with her Black Swan routine

Langley pool renovations completed

W.C. Blair Recreation Centre reopens on Sunday, March 25, 6:30 a.m.

B.C. pooches celebrate National Puppy Day

Check out some of the submissions from around B.C. for National Puppy Day 2018

Alberta tells B.C. to stop opposing pipelines if it doesn’t like gas prices

John Horgan said he would like to see the federal government step in to deal with high gas prices.

B.C. mother hit in truck rampage dies

Family confirms mother of four Kelly Sandoval dies almost two months after being hit.

B.C. officials failed to tell Kiwis Fraser Health CEO had been fired in 2014

New Zealand spending scandal exposes Dr. Nigel Murray 2014 exit from B.C. job

Most Read