George Massey Tunnel connecting Richmond and North Delta is the biggest traffic bottleneck in Metro Vancouver. (North Delta Reporter)

Federal NDP may support B.C. with major projects, Carole James says

SkyTrain Surrey extension, Massey Tunnel need Ottawa’s help

B.C.’s agreement with the B.C. Green Party shows that minority governments can be stable and effective, Finance Minister Carole James said in the wake of the federal election.

After Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals won more than 150 seats Monday to secure a minority government, he needs support of one or more other parties to pass legislation. The federal NDP were reduced to 25 seats, but that still leaves them enough to provide majority votes if they cooperate with the Liberals on issues they agree on.

James was asked Tuesday about the prospects for federal support on extending SkyTrain in Surrey, and constructing an eight-lane replacement for the four-land George Massey Tunnel connecting Richmond and Delta.

“I think it will be some time, but we also have the opportunity, if the governing party is going to work together with New Democrats,” James said. “We know the values of child care, we know the values of green transportation, and the opportunities that provides for us to address our issues around climate, are commonalities there.”

The SkyTrain project took an unexpected turn when Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum won election on a promise to replace a surface light rail extension with elevated SkyTrain technology to match the rest of the Metro Vancouver system. Federal and B.C. governments have committed $1.6 billion to extend the system towards Langley, but switching to SkyTrain adds considerably to the costs.

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The B.C. NDP government scrapped the B.C. Liberal plan for a 10-lane bridge to replace the Massey tunnel, and Metro politicians have since come together to support an eight-lane replacement tunnel instead. That requires federal fisheries permits to dredge the river bottom so tunnel sections can be floated out and put in place, a process that could put the replacement up to 10 years away. The price tag is also up in the air for a project that would require federal and provincial financing.

After being involved in the 2017 negotiations with the B.C. Green Party for a minority government, James said the task facing the Liberal minority is a delicate one.

“It will be a long week, a long couple of weeks, that’s what I also remember,” James said. “People often say minority governments have a short shelf life. I think we’ve proven here in British Columbia that when you work together, and when you focus on the people of the province, you can get great things done.”


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