Thursday, January 15, 2009

Like Santa Claus, the Harper Conservatives are checking their list..

As the Federal Government makes its plans to try and spend the nation out of the oncoming recession/depression (depending on which financial guru or writer you consult), Prince Rupert can take some solace in the idea that we've cracked the top twenty to do's for Mr. Harper and his Ministers.

The Daily News outlined our lofty place as number seventeen on their list of jobs to be done (pending financial abilities we assume) as the Phase Two portion of the Fairview Container Port marks its spot on the priority list for the Federal Government.

That would seem to be good news one would think, placing us on the radar as they say of federal funding, but interestingly enough at the moment its a similar project ranked as number forty that seems to be attracting the bulk of the cash flow, all be it from the Provincial government, as the Delta port expansion project picks up some 650 million dollars in support from Gordon Campbell's Liberal government.

This despite the call for the Prince Rupert option to be fast tracked as the priority project, such is the controversy of the expansion of Delta Port and its impact on the environment in the Surrey and Delta areas of Metropolitan Vancouver.
In a recent edition of the Tyee, the call to make Prince Rupert the gateway for BC over the Deltaport option was given a sounding with a prominent Delta critic outlining his thoughts on the idea.
With the Federal Government seeming to be prioritizing the Rupert option (it's expected that Phase Two will receive some 770 million dollars for the Phase Two plans in 2009) the Provincial Liberals are still apparently focusing on the cluttered Lower Mainland port, a process that is gathering critics with each day.

The Daily News article provides a good review of the Delta project and its controversial nature as well as the prospect of expansion for Fairview, providing the Campbell Liberal's share in the prioritization of the project.

Feds put phase two of port on their shortlist
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Page three

The Port of Prince Rupert's Phase Two is 'number 17' on the federal government's to-do list for 2009.

North Coast MLA Gary Coons thinks the provincial government needs to see that it becomes 'number one' on its port priority list.

Coons was reacting to a joint announcement by B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Surrey this week to officially launch construction on the South Fraser Perimeter Road - a four-lane expressway that will link the Deltaport to the Trans-Canada Highway.

"It's good news that infrastructure funding is coming to B.C. but again instead of massive road and environmental degradation, I believe, as does Forestry Minister Pat Bell, any federal infrastructure spending needs to be invested in to the Port of Prince Rupert," said Coons.
In December, Bell mentioned the port as a priority for the BC Liberal government but, since then, there have been no public notices regarding promised spending from either levels of senior government.

Monday, Campbell promised $650 million toward the controversial Deltaport project that has seen a lot of local opposition, most of which stems from the possible adverse effects the expanded road service to Burns Bog, an environmentally sensitive are of Southern Surrey.

In a letter dated Aug. 20, 2008 to the Metro Vancouver Chair, council members and committee members, members of the Burns Bog Conservation Society wrote that The Conservation Covenant signed in March of 2004 by four levels of government the GVRD (Metro Vancouver), Corporation of Delta, Canada and B.C. Provincial Government states it was to protect and preserve Burns Bog, has not been respected:

"It is clear that the recent environmental assessment process has not adequately addressed the protection of Burns Bog and the flora and fauna that depend on the bog."

The BBCS said that there are three main areas of concern: Bog hydrology; geochemistry of the Bog by drift of particulate matter and chemicals onto the Bog; and risks to the wildlife associated with Burns Bog.

"The evidence is that the South Fraser Perimeter Road will have adverse impacts on Burns Bog and, as such, to proceed with the South Fraser Perimeter Road as presently configured will impair, diminish, negatively affect or alter the bog from the condition described in the Burns Bog Ecosystem Review."

Coons was far more blunt than that.

"That is a vital part of our eco-system and here we are paving it over for a parking lot," said Coons.

According to information obtained by Canwest News Services, the port should expect an infusion of cash for the $770 million project from the federal government for Phase Two in 2009.
While the story claimed that the Prince Rupert port is 'number 17', it also claimed that the Deltaport is 'number 40' on the same list.

So far, however, many critics believe the B.C. government appears more focused on the Deltaport than the Prince Rupert Port.

"British Columbians see Prince Rupert as key for infrastructure, and the federal government does but the premier is missing the boat."

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