A long-time Gateway opponent has confirmed that he and other protesters will plant trees on Earth Day at the site where the South Fraser Perimeter Road is to be built.
“Where the road will not be built,” Eric Doherty, spokesperson for StopThePave.org, interjected eagerly during a March 29 phone interview.
On March 26, Doherty and other members of StopThePave.org, formerly the Gatewaysucks.org coalition, held a pre-action teach-in at Grandview Calvary Baptist Church at 1803 East 1st Avenue.
“We're meeting at the Annieville Supermarket [10996 River Road in Delta] at 2 p.m. on Earth Day, April 22, and we're going to occupy the site,” Doherty told the Straight at the meeting. “We're going to plant trees on dirt, where they've cut down trees to build this freeway along the banks of the Fraser River, and we're probably going to stay there for more than one day.”
Paul Landry, president and CEO of the B.C. Trucking Association, told the Straight: “We remain committed supporters of the South Fraser Perimeter Road.”
Landry believes economic activity, particularly port activity, could double in 15 years. “Those containers, at least 30 percent of them, will move by truck, and we need some capacity to do that,” he said.
Landry cited LNG—liquefied natural gas—as a potential “game changer” in the trucking industry as it moves away from its reliance on diesel fuel.
However, Doherty wants the billions invested in highway and urban road expansion nationwide to be redistributed to fund more transit and to build things like an electrified rail network across Canada.
Doherty and his colleagues believe construction of the road, tagged to cost $1.26 billion, can still be stopped. The SFPR is part of the multibillion-dollar Gateway Program, which includes the supersizing of the Port Mann Bridge.
Doherty argued: “With the price of oil soaring, and with the budget crunch, we're actually at a point now where it's much easier for the new provincial government to pull the plug on Gateway.”
Blair Lekstrom, B.C.'s new minister of transportation, would not grant the Straight an interview.